If you regularly struggle to pay your monthly rent, there are housing programs that help relieve that stress for qualified applicants. The Low Income Housing Guide for Renters has all the information needed for Americans who are in need of federal housing programs provided by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Applying for affordable housing can be involved and complicated, and this guide has been written to make that process easy to understand.
There are multiple HUD programs that assist low-income renters, and each have their own specific benefits, policies and procedures. Interested applicants can follow the easy to read step-by-step instructions for the entire application process - including eligibility, how to apply, and what happens after applying.
Select a housing program below to learn more:
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is a federal rental assistance program that helps low-income renters pay some, or all of their monthly rent.
The main benefit of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is that participants can choose their own rental unit (with some restrictions).
Section 8 HCV tenants pay 30% to 40% of the household’s adjusted monthly income toward rent. The rest is paid directly to the landlord by the Public Housing Agency (commonly called a housing authority) that manages the household’s voucher.
Overseen and funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are more than 2,400 HUD Public Housing Agencies nationwide that individually manage the Section 8 HCV program.
Read this guide to learn more about how the Section 8 HCV program works.
The Public Housing program provides affordable rental apartment communities and scattered homes and apartments (known as “scattered sites”) that give rental assistance to participants.
The organizations that administer this program and own the properties are called Public Housing Agencies (commonly called housing authorities), which are funded and overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There are more than 3,300 housing authorities nationwide that offer Public Housing assistance for a specific jurisdiction, whether it is a city, county, or region of multiple areas.
Called the Total Tenant Payment (TTP), program participants pay either:
Natural disasters unfortunately occur each year in many parts of the country. From earthquakes, to wildfires, to hurricanes, these disasters can result in mandatory evacuations, significant property damage, and loss of life. The most important concern for you and your family should always be safety. There are many things you can and should do before, during, and after a disaster to ensure you and your family remain properly housed.
There are housing programs in the United States that can provide affordable housing for all immigrants, including those that are undocumented. This guide will explain what federal affordable housing programs are open to immigrants, provide the eligibility requirements for these programs and describe other resources that can help immigrant households find an apartments they can afford.
The federal government makes housing affordable to low-income renters in several ways. Some affordable housing properties have federal subsidies directly attached to the apartments so that tenants eligible to live there pay 30% of their income for rent. The federal government also helps low-income renters afford apartments in the private rental market by providing vouchers allowing tenants to pay 30% of their income to rent from a private landlord, with the government paying the remainder up to the established local Fair Market Rent (FMR). Finally, the federal government has programs that reduce the cost to build affordable apartments and in return the owners agree to set rents at a level that is affordable to low-income renters in their area.
Housing authorities and other owners of federally funded affordable apartment communities are not required to report your immigration status to immigration authorities at the Department of Homeland Security when you apply for assistance. However, your immigration status can be affected by not accurately reporting it when you apply for housing that receives restricted federal funds. You will also need to have a Social Security number when applying for federal housing programs, except for those people in your household who are not claiming eligible immigrant status.
Having a criminal record makes it challenging to find affordable housing, but someone with a criminal record may still qualify for many federal low-income housing programs.
In 2016, HUD issued guidance to federal housing providers to loosen restrictions for applicants with criminal records. HUD’s concern was that a large number of low-income applicants may have criminal records, closing many off from housing assistance who may only have minor infractions.
Because of disproportionate arrest, conviction, and incarceration rates for African-Americans and Hispanics; HUD determined that using criminal records alone when rejecting an applicant violates the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The Fair Housing Act bars discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of housing and other housing-related activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin. People with criminal records are not a protected class under the Fair Housing Act, but basing application decisions solely on having a criminal record has a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities who are protected under the Act.
There are many federal housing resources available to seniors. These include affordable rental housing and supportive services to help seniors maintain independence for as long as possible. This guide will provide information about different housing resources available to seniors looking for affordable housing. Read below to find out how to get more information and apply for these programs.
There are many federal housing resources available to persons with disabilities. These include affordable rental housing and supportive services to help disabled persons maintain independence and involvement in the community. This guide will provide information about different housing resources available to persons with disabilities looking for affordable housing. Read below to find out how to get more information and apply for these programs.
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program allows voucher holders to transfer their voucher to pay rent in anew area, once certain conditions are met. This is called portability.
A HCV participant may only port out to a different area after one year of residency in their housing authority's jurisdiction (service area). If the voucher holder was a resident in the jurisdiction when they initially applied for the voucher, they may request to port out to a different jurisdiction at any time.
You can also only port your voucher to another Public Housing Agency (PHA) that also offers the HCV program. Vouchers cannot be ported to a PHA that only offers the Public Housing program.
It is important to consider any expenses involved in moving to a new location such as your current lease, rental deposit, moving and travel costs, and utility costs. Have a plan for transportation, school registration, employment, and childcare before you start the porting process to ease the transition to a new home.
Housing authorities are given a lot of leeway by HUD in their porting policy, so there may be other requirements not mentioned in this guide to port your voucher.
Low to moderate income buyers are able to purchase an affordable home; and many studies show that home ownership most likely will be cheaper and more beneficial than renting in the long run. But for some people, renting may better fit their lifestyle and situation.
Five billion dollars of American Rescue Plan funds have been allocated for the creation of the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) program to help pay rent for persons and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. These vouchers are being distributed by Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) — also called housing authorities — across the country.
Because people who are homeless or facing homelessness need more time to recover from the fallout of the pandemic, it was deemed more effective to issue long term vouchers for these families, rather than use short term aid. Also, persons fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence/dating violence/sexual assault/stalking/human trafficking are eligible for EHVs.
The funds can be used for new EHVs, renewing existing EHVs, and paying administrative and other related costs.
The Supreme Court struck down the updated moratorium on evictions policy that was created by the CDC in August, 2021. This means that renters who are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, and cannot pay rent are at risk of being evicted by their landlord.
What can you do if you don’t have the rent money, and your landlord gives you an eviction notice?
If a participant of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program gets a notice that their benefits have changed or been terminated, they can request an Informal Hearing to argue against the action taken. The Public Housing Agency administering the program must allow the completion of an Informal Hearing upon request.
There is an involved process for an Informal Hearing, and if the participant does not abide by the rules of the process, the Informal Hearing may not be granted. This guide helps explain what a PHA Informal Hearing is, and the regulations of the Informal Hearing process.