Can You Qualify for Rent Assistance?

May 7th 2016

There are many programs meant to offer rent assistance to people in need. However, the waiting times may be frustrating or the applications may seem daunting. With the right knowledge, it’s possible to receive rent assistance that will help you find affordable housing. A secure and positive place to live is something we all desire, and it’s especially important for families with children. Utilize these tools to help your search for programs that can reduce the burden of high housing costs.

HUD Administered Rent Assistance

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees several programs intended to assist low-income individuals and families in obtaining affordable housing. While the specifics are administered through local agencies, the HUD portal is a good place to start.

Subsidized Housing - Owners of privately-owned apartment buildings are offered subsidies to offset rent for low-income applicants. You can use the HUD search tool to locate a property and then apply directly.

Public Housing - These are housing units owned by government agencies that are available at below-market rents for those who qualify. Use this location tool for finding agencies to apply through. Public housing can range from large complexes to small buildings with just a few units.

Housing Choice Vouchers - This is an initiative designed to offer low -income families and individuals access to affordable housing through partial rent payments that reduce monthly expenses. Like the other programs, there are income limits. Generally, applicants cannot earn more than 125 percent of the federal poverty level for their household size. The income limits vary widely and are calculated down to the local level by state, county and sometimes city. To easily find data for any area, use this calculator.

Rent Assistance from Other Agencies and Groups

The USDA - Intended for rural areas, the Department of Agriculture offers rent assistance for rural properties, including farm labor rentals. Generally, tenant rents are set at 30 percent of adjustable income, with the USDA paying the remaining amount. Area median income is used as a base measure.

Emergency Short-Term Help -For individuals and families finding themselves in a housing crisis that is immediate and threatens to leave them without shelter, there are organizations that work to provide short-term relief. Home Forward is one example of such an agency. Based in the Portland, Oregon area, they can help find assistance for periods up to 24 months.

Private Charities - Although they operate on rules that don’t necessarily follow any established income standards, local charities can sometimes provide relief. Churches, nonprofit groups and community service organizations are worth looking into. Start with the website 211.org. Administered by United Way and the Alliance for Information and Referral Systems, the site is meant to make it easy for people in need to get help.

Security Deposit Guarantee Programs - Many states and municipalities offer assistance with security deposits in the form of guarantees. Often, large security deposits are a barrier for low-income renters who are looking to move to a more desirable property, or just get housing in the first place. This explanation of the Vermont program offers insights into how they work nationwide.

Local City - Check to see if your city has information that can help with not only finding rent assistance, but also dealing with eviction notices and substandard housing. This site from the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco is a good example.

The resources listed here can provide information to help with your search for rent assistance or provide relief when finances are not able to keep up with rent. Taking advantage of the aid available can help assure access to quality housing.

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