Paying rent has been a serious problem for lots of families recently. While wages remain low or unchanged for the majority of people, rents are increasing, and property values are rising due to the latest pandemic consequences. Statistics show that 4 out of every 10 low-income people in the United States are homeless or pay more than half their income for rent.
For this reason, you should be aware of the housing solutions that the federal government offers through different housing assistance programs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) helps low-income families and individuals find adequate housing through multiple housing assistance programs, such as:
- Public Housing,
- Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers program,
- Transitional Housing programs,
- Emergency Housing programs.
As a result, there are over 10 million American citizens in more than 5 million households receiving federal housing support. 69% of the beneficiaries are elderly, children, or people with disabilities.
Public housing is one type of federally subsidized housing program. Through this program, the federal government provides different forms of rentals, including apartments, a cluster of private houses, or a series of duplex houses. It depends on where you live.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development funds this program, but the local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) are the managers. In that case, you need to meet your local PHA eligibility requirements to be able to receive housing assistance under Public Housing. Once you sign the lease, it is quite similar to moving into a private unit of a regular landlord.
According to HUD, about 1.2 million people are living in Public Housing units. This is a great indication of how helpful and efficient this program is.
This program has the goal of helping low-income families and individuals get an appropriate dwelling. So, your local PHA determines your eligibility after looking at the following:
- Your annual income: it should not exceed a certain limit that each PHA sets, which means it may differ from one area to another.
- Whether you are applying as a senior, a family, or a person with a disability.
- Your US citizenship or immigration status.
If your PHA finds you qualified, they will check your references to ensure that you and your family will be good tenants and let you know. PHAs constantly reject any application of people with bad habits or harmful activities.
Important to remember that these housing units are limited. This is why long waitlists are common before a unit becomes available for a new tenant. So, it is normal to wait for a while before moving to your new house.
How Long Can Someone Stay in Public Housing?
As a general rule, you can stay in public housing as long as you follow your lease terms. Nonetheless, keep in mind that the PHA may reconsider your stay during the annual re-examination if your family’s income is sufficient to afford housing in the private market.
How Much Rent Should I Pay in Public Housing?
Rent is referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) under the Public Housing Program. It would be based on your family’s expected total annual income, minus any deductions. Actually, based on your application, the PHA representative may exclude some allowances from your annual income.
According to the official HUD website, these allowances include $480 for each dependent; $400 for senior families or people with disabilities; and some medical deductions for households headed by an elderly person or a person with disabilities.
Housing Choice Voucher Program (a.k.a Section 8)
Do you have your eye on a specific place? Go for the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV). It is an excellent solution for those who cannot afford high rents but want to live in a rental of their choice (as long as the landlord accepts vouchers as a form of payment). The Section 8 program allows you to get a dwelling unit in the private market and pays a big portion of your rent.
The program is so flexible that it allows the recipients to use the voucher even if they move to another place. This applies under one condition; if the new place also meets the requirements of the HUD just like the first one did.
Am I Eligible for the HCV Program?
It is one of the biggest successful housing assistance programs of the HUD. Yet, again, the PHAs run this program. And (yes, you guessed it right) each PHA has their own set of eligibility requirements. However, there are some basic requirements that you need to meet if you wish to apply to HCV, like:
- In general, your family’s gross income should be less than 50% of the average income in the county or metropolitan area where you want to live. If your salary does not exceed 30% of the median income in your area, your chances of receiving a voucher increase by 75%.
- The family size limits vary depending on your area. You can find more relative information in this sheet.
- Only US citizens and a few other non-citizen groups with legitimate immigration status are welcome to apply.
- One last thing, your criminal record must be clear of violent and drug-related offenses. If you have evictions and other negative habits on your record, you will most likely be unable to apply for at least three years since the previous incident.
How to Apply?
If you believe you qualify for this program and would like to apply, all you need to do is contact your local PHA. As the application process goes, the PHA will gather information about your family composition, gross income, and assets. Other parties, such as your bank, employer, and local organizations, work with the local PHA to confirm your eligibility for the assistance.
Transitional Housing Programs
Transitional Housing is a free supportive type of temporary housing for those in need. The federal government, local governments, non-profit organizations, and charities provide transitional housing assistance to homeless people in order to offer them a safe place to stay. The programs also provide training and supervision until the recipients can finally afford private housing or are eligible for one of the permanent housing assistance programs that local authorities manage.
These programs aim to help in a variety of situations, including:
- People who have lost their homes as a result of a catastrophe.
- Families or people with very low incomes who live on the streets or do not have any kind of shelter.
- Low-income single mothers who have no home.
- Refugees that do not have a place to stay.
- Domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking victims.
- People suffering from mental illness or in recovery from addiction.
The beneficiaries can settle down in temporary transitional housing until they can get back on their feet.
Different Types of Transitional Housing
There are many types of transitional housing programs; the most common include transitional housing for veterans, recovering addicts, and, of course, homeless individuals and families.
Transitional Housing Placement Program (THPP)
The THPP is a certified community care placement program for current and former foster care kids aged 16 to 18. The primary purpose of THPP is to provide young people with a safe environment in which they can live and learn until they become self-sufficient. Participants might live alone, with permission from the department, or with roommates in apartments or single-family houses with an employee.
Participants get educational tutoring, job placement aid, and assistance in reaching the emancipation objectives outlined in their Transitional Independent Living Plan throughout the THPP program.
Transitional Housing For Homeless Veterans
Veterans make up a sizable proportion of those at risk of homelessness. With this in mind, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funds multiple programs to assist veterans with getting an appropriate residence. Many non-profits, as well as government agencies, offer a variety of assistance services to help homeless veterans.
One of the most successful support approaches in this regard is the VA’s Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program. Basically, the GPD Program helps homeless Veterans by sponsoring community-based organizations that provide transitional housing and service centers.
The Transitional Living Program for Homeless Youth
Also known as TLP, this long-term housing assistance program aims to help homeless youth by providing them with adequate accommodation for about 21 months. TLP also offers a variety of training courses, such as soft and hard skill development and parenting skills for young women expecting a baby.
Emergency Housing Programs
Housing assistance during emergencies has more than one form, yet the most popular is The HUD Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP). The main goal of EHAP is to help low-income families and individuals who are looking for immediate housing.
In the same manner, there are other Emergency Housing Assistance programs, such as the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) program and the Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) program. In general, they aim to end homelessness and provide people at risk of being homeless with a secure residence.
As part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), HUD established the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) program. HUD is awarding 70,000 housing choice vouchers to local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) under this program.
Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) is a type of temporary housing that provides acceptable housing alternatives to low-income families and individuals. This program has three primary components: housing identification, rent and move-in assistance, and case management. In contrast with so many other assistance programs, this one does not require any prerequisites.
This is where people go when they need instant help, especially if they lost their home to a natural disaster or a severe financial crisis. Emergency shelters are one kind of emergency housing solution that provides assistance and temporary housing.
Still, you should keep in mind that whoever arrives first gets served first in these shelters. Some emergency shelters also have time restrictions on how long people may stay. The majority of emergency shelters provide basic housing needs, helping people to get back on their feet.
How to Apply for Government Housing Assistance Programs?
From one state to another, the application process may be significantly different. It depends on the type of program you are choosing and the eligibility standards that your local PHA determines. Some states accept online applications, while others only accept applications submitted by mail. In a few cases, your local PHA may prefer that you visit their physical office.
So, to save yourself some time, it is recommended that you contact your local PHA to find out whether you are eligible and how to apply. You can also consult them on the best program available for your situation.
Rent may be tough to handle, which might cause you to be anxious and stressed most of the time. That is why housing assistance programs have been developed. There are more resources for assistance than you may believe.
The four distinct types of housing assistance programs offered by the federal government include Public Housing, HCV program, Emergency Housing Programs, and Transitional Housing Programs. Find out what works best for you, then contact your local PHA to apply.
- Housing Choice Voucher Program Section 8 | HUD.gov / US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Transitional Housing Benefits: Why You Should Consider Sober Living
- Transitional Housing Programs for Current and Former Foster Youth.