Let’s face it, a lot of people find it hard to keep up with housing. Whether they deal with rent or a mortgage, it can be hard to handle! Certain groups of people can face more challenges when it comes to having housing that works within their budget. This includes those that are already receiving government assistance like from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). However, SNAP recipients (or those interested in getting SNAP benefits) may not realize that there are a lot of different ways that they can get affordable housing. In addition to providing assistance with purchasing food, SNAP now offers another critical resource for its recipients: funding for affordable housing. This article will explore how SNAP recipients can access funding for affordable housing and the impact it can have on their lives. We will also touch on other ways to get affordable housing other than SNAP!
What is SNAP?
Before diving into how SNAP can help with affordable housing, it’s important to understand what the program is and who it serves. SNAP is a federal program that provides assistance to low-income individuals and families to purchase food. It is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and operates in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
To be eligible for SNAP, individuals and families must meet certain income and asset requirements. Typically, households must have a gross monthly income at or below 130% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which varies depending on family size. Additionally, households must have limited assets, such as bank accounts and vehicles.
Once approved for SNAP, recipients receive a monthly benefit on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. This card works like a debit card and can purchase food items at authorized retailers, such as grocery stores and farmers’ markets. The amount of the benefit depends on factors such as household size, income, and expenses.
Understanding SNAP’s Funding for Affordable Housing
While SNAP’s primary function is to provide assistance with purchasing food, the program also offers resources for affordable housing. Specifically, SNAP provides funding for a program called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) program. This program provides job training and employment services to help SNAP recipients find and maintain employment. Additionally, SNAP E&T can provide financial assistance to cover expenses related to employment, such as transportation and work clothes.
One way that SNAP E&T can help with affordable housing is by providing financial assistance for housing-related expenses, such as rent, utilities, and security deposits. This assistance can be critical for helping families move into stable housing or avoid eviction from their current housing.
SNAP E&T’s housing-related assistance is generally provided through state agencies, which administer the program on behalf of the federal government. The availability and specifics of the assistance can vary depending on the state, so it’s important for SNAP recipients to contact their local SNAP office to learn more about the programs available in their area.
Alternative Affordable Housing Support Opportunities
So, while SNAP recipients can get some additional support when it comes to finding affordable housing, what about folks that don’t get SNAP? Well, people can still struggle to get affordable housing even if they aren’t SNAP recipients! So, it’s also important to know what other resources are out there when it comes to this issue. Some affordable housing opportunities include:
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
A lot of people are familiar with this housing assistance opportunity! Through Section 8, qualifying recipients will receive housing vouchers. These housing vouchers can be used to pay for rent at properties that allow them as a form of payment. The properties are located within the private market. This gives people the benefit of more freedom when it comes to choosing a place to live. When recipients use these vouchers, they are responsible for any rent costs remaining. Typically, this remaining amount should be no more than 30% of a person’s income every month.
This program is available through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Even though this is the program’s source at the federal level, who manages the program is a bit different. Local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) handle the management of the program (which includes the application process). Since it is managed at the local level, that means it will vary depending on the area. The Section 8 program for one state can be different from the Section 8 program for another state!
Another way that people are able to access affordable housing is through Public Housing. This government opportunity is also available through HUD. However, it operates differently than Section 8. Instead of a normal landlord in the private market, your landlord would be the government! Even though this is the major difference between the two programs, there are some similarities. That’s because Public Housing is also managed at the local level through housing agencies (HAs). On top of that, only qualifying recipients are able to benefit from this opportunity!
Local Assistance Opportunities
When we talked about alternative affordable housing options, we only discussed federal opportunities. However, there are assistance options at the state and local levels as well. That’s why it is important to check out what is available specifically near you. You may be in for a pleasant surprise to see that places right around the corner from you are providing support to those in need. One great resource to check out is 211.org. This website details assistance for affordable housing (as well as a wide range of additional support needs!).
Accessing safe and affordable housing can be a significant challenge for many low-income families. However, by providing funding for affordable housing through the SNAP E&T program, SNAP is helping to address this critical need. SNAP E&T can help families move into stable housing or avoid eviction from their current housing. While the availability and specifics of the assistance can vary depending on the state, SNAP recipients who are struggling with housing costs should contact their local SNAP office. This is a great place to learn more about the programs available in their area.
Besides SNAP recipients getting affordable housing support, there are alternative assistance opportunities out there. This includes:
- Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
- Public Housing
- Local Assistance Opportunities
Even if you are having a hard time when it comes to affordable housing, keep your chin up! There may be more hope out there than you realize.