How Low-Income Families can Receive Assistance for Housing

By: Emily J., Assistancefinder
Published Feb 21, 2020 8:48:33 AM


The U.S. Government created its housing assistance program in response to assist low-income families during the Great Depression. The programs created in the 1930's were the beginning of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD is the government agency that currently oversees these and similar programs.

Over the years, additional programs were added to assist with the construction of low-income houses and programs to help low-income renter subsidize their monthly rent.


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Congress passed The Housing and Community Development Act in 1974. This act helped low-income families find a way to ease the financial burden of their rent payments. Also referred to as Section 8, the program requires families and individuals to dedicate 30% of their income to pay their rent. Any rental costs in excess of 30 percent gets paid to the landlord by the U.S. government.

Since its inception in 1974, Section 8 had three subcategories. These subcategories included: New Construction, Substantial Rehabilitation, and Existing Housing. Moderate Rehabilitation was added in 1978. In 1983 and 1991, the Voucher Program and a Project Based Certificate Program were added. Every category determines if the landlord qualifies for participation in the Section 8 Program.

The Housing Authority of the individual states regulates Section 8 housing. The number of units available in the program is based on the amount of funding received by the housing authority. The budgets and programs vary from state-to-state. However, Congress tends to renew funding for any previously granted subsidy.

HUD's Housing Voucher Program is unique. It offers assistance to people who are disabled, the elderly, and very low-income people. It helps individuals who are very low on resources find safe, affordable, and clean housing. Because recipients of these vouchers must find their own housing, the vouchers can be used on townhomes, single-family homes, and apartments.

The Housing Authority determines the eligibility requirements for the Voucher Program. The qualifications for the program are based on family size and gross annual income. U.S. Citizens and non-citizens can apply for this program. Non-citizens must meet certain immigration status requirements to apply.

The application process is very comprehensive. The Housing Authority verifies all the number of family members claimed on the application, assets, and the immigration status of the applications when they review the application. Family members, banks, and employers will probably be interviewed. This research will not only determine if you qualify for the program, it determines how much of the subsidy you will get.

There is no lack of demand for the Voucher Program. If approved, you will probably get placed on a waitlist until the funding is available. The wait list is common in nearly every part of the country. When the funds are available, the Housing Authority contacts you, and the voucher gets issued.
The Housing Authority can move people to the top of the waitlist based on the situation they are in at the time they filed their application. These situations can include:

• Being involuntary displaced from their home
• Paying more than 50% of their gross
• A family is homeless or living substandard and dangerous housing

The preferences are based on need, qualifications, demand and can vary from state to state. Local Housing Authorities can also affect the preferences.

Voucher recipients must pick housing that meets the Housing Authority's requirements. The home must be sanitary and safe. Landlords must also allow the local housing authority to inspect the property to ensure that it's in compliance. The voucher is granted if the housing is approved.

Some landlords may not want to participate in the program because they don't understand how it works. Landlords may not accept Section 8 vouchers because they don't want to work with a federal agency. Recipients of these vouchers need to make sure that the landlord accepts Section 8 Program vouchers.
The Housing Authority also uses its resources to prevent fraud. If you have a change in your family size or income level, you will need to stay in contact with the Housing Authority. Not reporting any changes may cause your family to lose the subsidy.

Here are some of the individual programs that HUD offers:

Rural Rental Assistance

The Rural Rental Assistance program helps to lower the rent for eligible, low-income families who live in Farm Labor Housing (FLH) and Rural Rental Housing (RRH) which is financed by Rural Housing Service. People whose monthly rental payments must be more than 30% of the household's adjusted income.

Housing Grants and Loans

The Rural Housing Grants and Loans Program offers loans and grants to homeowners who are considered very-low income. These homeowners can receive grants to modernize, improve, repair, and remove safety hazards in rural homes.

The Good Neighbor Next Door Program

Under this program, people who are teachers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, or police officers can take advantage of this program. Under this program, HUD helps people in these professions buy a home in a revitalization area. The program offers a 50 percent discount on the list of homes available in HUD's inventory. You have to live in the house for three years, and the home must be your only residence.

Disaster Relief Assistance

The FEMA Housing Portal helps families and individuals who are displaced due to a disaster find a new home. The portal provides a list of rental resources that can assist in finding available rental units in their area.

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