What is Low Income Housing and How Does it Work?
Low-income housing is housing for families and individuals who have a low income. It is also called affordable housing. The U.S. government spends about $40 billion each year on means-tested housing programs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD has developed an Income House Guide for Renters. It contains comprehensive data required by Americans who are dependent on Housing Programs. The national or local government uses an affordability index to decide whether an individual or family’s income is equal to or lower than the median.
There are multiple, easy to follow, HUD programs that aid low-income renters. Each application goes through three stages:
- How to apply
- Post applying
Eligibility for Low Income Housing
A Housing Agency or HA decides eligibility based on various factors. They include:
- Gross annual income
- Elderly, Disabled or Family
- S. Citizen or applicable immigration status
- Victims of Natural Disasters
- Persons with Criminal Records Guide
Contact your local Housing Authority or HA to guide you on the step-by-step process of checking your eligibility.
For more information, visit https://affordablehousingonline.com/guide
How to apply for Low Income Housing
Visit the Housing and Urban Development Website at www.hud.com for details on how to apply for affordable housing.
Post applyingThe final two steps are to locate an apartment and apply for it. If not already designated one by your local HA, here are a few ways to make apartment hunting a bit easier. Run an Affordable Housing Search on the HUD website. You can also try Find Affordable Rental Housing on https://www.usa.gov/finding-home or Apartments on
Zumper. To apply for the apartment, you will need to fill in a rental application. Details include but are not limited to – your social security number or SSN, personal information of each individual, assets, debt, income etc. Information requested will differ between authorities so make sure you understand what is required.
Low Income Housing Programs
Below is a generic list of housing programs administered under HUD. This list is not exclusive and covers a few of the more popular programs under offer.
1) Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program or HCV - It is one of the most popular programs and is run in predetermined regions, be it a county, city or multiple areas. Designated with the responsibility of governing this program, are over 2,400 Public Housing Agencies or PHAs. Also referred to as HAs. They in turn come under the jurisdiction of HUD. Accepted applicants contribute 30% of their monthly household income. The balance of the rent is paid for by the HA. Renters choose the accommodation.
2) Section 8 Project-Based Voucher program or (PBV) – Here participants have to live in designated housing. There is no choice. On completion of a year, they can make an application to transfer to the waiting list of the HCV program.
3) Total Tenant Payment program or TTP – Accepted applicants pay:
- a) 10% of their total monthly income (gross income minus exclusions) OR
- b) 30% of their monthly adjusted income (gross income minus exclusions or deductions) OR
- c) A minimum rent in the range of $0 - $50 (determined by the HA)
4) Low Income Housing Tax Credit program or LIHTC – Here, tax cuts are offered to land lords as an incentive to reduce rents. A LIHTC unit can co-exist with a market unit in what is called a tiered rent structure. It facilitates people with low-income paying less for an apartment when compared with a higher income counterpart. This program can also be linked to a Section 8 program.
5) Project-Based Section 8 Rental Assistance program – Identical to the Total Tenant Program or TTP, except that the minimum rent is set at $25
Some cities have lengthy waiting lists because there is a high demand for low-income housing. Make sure you speak with your HA to better understand what is the affordable housing situation in your locality and how to go about applying for it.
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