Local Rent Assistance Programs

May 7th 2016

Sometimes life gets in the way, and we need a little help taking care of the things that matter. For this reason, government programs exist to help alleviate some of the burden. Programs are available through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Housing Choice Voucher Program and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that provide rental assistance, security deposits, guaranteed housing for low-income recipients, help with housing expenses and help paying utilities to those who meet minimum income and employment requirements. The list below includes the benefits available and restrictions you’ll need to keep in mind.

Benefits Available for Rent Assistance

  • Affordable Housing: Affordable public housing is granted through federally operated HUD programs and is available to assist low-income families with security deposits and guaranteed housing.
  • Homeownership and Tenant Vouchers: This program offers lower rates on housing and grants vouchers for renters and homeowners who meet minimum income requirements, employment requirements and demonstrate financial need. Minimum rent payments under these vouchers are posted at 30% of total monthly income. These vouchers can be obtained through the Housing Choice Voucher Program, and if you don’t meet minimum requirements, additional or emergency circumstances can be applied to your case.
  • Vouchers for Veterans, those with Disabilities and the Elderly: This program offers vouchers and development programs similar to the Homeownership and Tenant Vouchers.
  • Energy Assistance: This program provides vouchers for low-income families for heating and cooling energy costs. Every state has its own program through LIHEAP, and additional programs exist to ensure your heat will stay on through the winter by agreeing to minimum payments at a fraction of the original rates.

Things to Keep in Mind about Rent Assistance

It’s true that not every situation will fall within the requirements for rental assistance or help with housing expenses, which is why you should do your research and stay on government and federal websites that offer legitimate programs. Also, pay special attention to state-operated websites as these provide community-based resources and additional programs that might not be available in all states.

Keep in mind that these programs exist to help people in need, and sometimes it just involves a little digging on your part to find them. In fact, many programs exist at the community level that won’t be available elsewhere, so if you’re having trouble finding a program that fits your criteria, contact your local community action agency by looking in your phone book or by searching the Community Action Partnership. Also, be sure to check out HUD’s Local Renting Information Page, which has links by state to community sponsored programs only available through local applications.

These programs are focused on creating more sustainable communities and work hard to assist low-income families by providing resources and development programs to increase income and self-sufficiency. There are also links to homeowner’s assistance programs through Making Home Affordable that provide payment modifications, lower interest rates and programs for the unemployed on a community level to provide tools and mortgage relief to those who qualify.

You might also find that certain situations impact the rules in such a way that your family meets the guidelines, and you’re eligible for more assistance than you realized. But you have to act fast; state agencies and government programs only have a certain amount of money to award during the given fiscal period, and once that money is exhausted, you’ll have to wait until the next period to apply.

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