Federal Housing Assistance for Low-Income Families and Individuals

By: Ava K., Assistancefinder
Published Apr 6, 2020 8:49:59 AM

Generally speaking, housing prices across the country continue to rise. Not all Americans can afford to purchase a home or even rent an apartment. Low-income families struggle the most in this situation. A lack of affordable housing hurts millions of people each day. Fortunately, government-run housing assistance programs have existed since the 1930s. Multiple programs are run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A Look At The Section 8 Housing Program

Most Americans know this program as Section 8, which subsidizes housing payments for families. A family in the program is required to pay 30% of their income toward rent and nothing more. Anything above that amount is covered by the federal government. These days, countless families rely upon Section 8 and other programs in order to live in a dwelling.

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Congress has added upon Section 8 numerous times since its inception. New Construction, Existing Housing, and Substantial Rehabilitation were the main categories at first. From there, Moderate Rehabilitation was added to the program in 1978. A Voucher Program (1983) and Project-Based Certificate Program (1991) came later on. Each category is used to determine whether specific landlords may participate in the Section 8 program.

Each state's Housing Authority handles matters related to Section 8. Based upon various factors, state housing authorities receive different amounts of funding each year. Section 8 is constantly evolving and changing in individual states. Congress tends to manage the overall program well by renewing funding for existing subsidies.

What About The Housing Voucher Program?

Low-Income, disabled, and elderly individuals or families will want to look into the Housing Voucher Program. In most cases, such groups of people have the most limited financial resources. This program guarantees they can find safe and clean housing without overextending their finances. Vouchers can be applied to everything from homes to apartments and townhomes based upon the user's preference.
Unsurprisingly, a number of eligibility requirements are placed upon the Housing Voucher Program. The Housing Authority places limits upon gross annual income and family size. Only US Citizens and those with eligible immigration status can apply for these vouchers. If a given person doesn't meet these requirements, then they'll have to look into other housing program options in their state.

Applicants should expect a thorough and arduous application process. During this process, the Housing Authority verifies every detail of the application. Family size, income, assets, and even immigration status will be checked in depth. Banks, family members, and even employers are contacted to verify application information. By carrying out this vetting process, subsidies are determined by the Housing Authority.

Unfortunately, the Voucher Program is in extreme demand. Approval for the program doesn't guarantee an immediate subsidy grant, either. Most approved applicants are placed on a waiting list until funds are released. Regardless of location, applicants should expect to wait a few weeks to hear from the Housing Authority, in a best-case scenario.

Rare situations may allow someone to move atop the waiting list. For instance, homeless families or those in substandard housing may receive a higher placement. The same applies to families paying a substantial amount of gross income to rent. Another common category includes individuals displaced from their homes involuntarily.

Plenty of other factors play into the Housing Voucher Program, though. It should be kept in mind that finer details of each program vary from state to state. Still, housing authorities set requirements for safety and sanitation of individual properties. Landlords are required to submit each property for official inspection. If a given dwelling receives approval, then the voucher is approved.

However, individual landlords may deny Section 8 vouchers without repercussions. Not all landlords like to work with a federal agency. Others don't understand the inner workings of Section 8 and find the process confusing. Either way, potential tenants need to verify their landlord accepts Section 8 vouchers to avoid major problems.

A Note On Changing Circumstances For Section 8 Recipients

When it comes to fraud, accidental or not, the Housing Authority is quick to penalize voucher recipients. Therefore, income changes or family size changes need to be revealed immediately. Even small changes in a recipient's living situation could lead to problems with the Housing Authority. Subsidies have been revoked for minor infractions after all.

A Less Common Housing Solution: Rural Rental Assistance

The Rural Housing Service finances a number of Farm Labor Housing (FLH) and Rural Rental Housing (RRH) projects in rural areas today. If an individual or family lives in one of these projects, then they could be eligible for a housing subsidy.

The Good Neighbor Next Door Program

With this program, law enforcement and emergency service personnel may qualify for a subsidy. Recipients could receive a 50% discount on a home within HUD's inventory. Only certain properties qualify for this subsidy. On top of that, applicants must live in that home for no less than three years as their sole residence.

Disaster Relief Assistance From FEMA

FEMA's Housing Portal helps individuals and families displaced by a natural disaster. A large collection of rental resources are pooled together in order to better serve disaster victims. At that point, they can then proceed forward and find a suitable dwelling.

Housing Loans and Grants

Finally, Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants can help homeowners repair or modernize their existing property. Low-income homeowners may qualify for this program to turn their rural property into a safe and modern home.

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