Housing affordability is a major concern for many individuals and families, and finding affordable rental housing can be particularly challenging. For those who rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to make ends meet, the task of finding affordable rental housing can be even more daunting. However, there are ways SNAP recipients can help secure affordable housing. Not only can SNAP recipients benefit, but other people are able to take advantage! In this article, we will explore just what’s out there to consider.
Understanding SNAP When It Comes to Affordable Rental Housing
SNAP is a federal nutrition assistance program that provides eligible individuals and families with financial assistance when it comes to groceries. The program is designed to help low-income households access healthy food and improve their overall nutrition. SNAP benefits are distributed through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, which work like a debit card and can be used at participating places. To be eligible for SNAP benefits, individuals must meet certain requirements. It is important to note that SNAP benefits are not intended to cover all of a household’s food costs, but rather to supplement them. The amount of benefits a household receives depends on factors such as income, family size, and expenses.
What Does It Mean to Have Affordable Rental Housing?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines affordable housing as housing that costs no more than 30% of a household’s income. This means that if a household earns $1,800 per month, their affordable rent should not be more than $540 per month.
Having affordable rental housing is crucial for many households (but low-income ones especially!). This is because housing costs can often take up a significant portion of their monthly income. Without access to affordable housing, families may find themselves cost-burdened. This means they can struggle to pay for other expenses, such as:
- Medical Care
For individuals and families who receive SNAP benefits, having affordable rental housing can be especially important. Like we said earlier, SNAP benefits are designed to supplement a household’s food costs, but the program does not provide enough support to cover all of a household’s expenses. By finding affordable rental housing, SNAP recipients can reduce their housing costs and free up more funds for other essential expenses.
There are a variety of programs and resources available to help individuals and families find affordable rental housing. By taking advantage of these resources and programs, SNAP recipients can find safe, affordable housing that meets their needs and allows them to maintain their health and well-being.
How to Find Affordable Rental Housing?
You want to make sure you have a clear understanding of your financial situation when you begin your search for affordable rental housing. That’s because you need to know what is determined to be affordable for what you’ve got in the bank. Once you know this, you can begin your search! There are lots of options to consider for rental housing that fits your budget, including:
- Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
- Public Housing
- Talk to your current landlord
- See if there is local support
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
One popular way that people try to get affordable rental housing is through Section 8. This program provides housing vouchers to recipients that qualify. Even though this is a program available from HUD, management and administration of the program takes place at the local level. This is done through Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). Since they handle the management of the program, this is where you would turn if you want to apply. The vouchers that recipients get can go towards finding affordable housing in the private market. If a landlord accepts these vouchers as a form of payment, then recipients will only be responsible for the remaining portion which should amount to 30% of their income on a monthly basis. Even though this is a helpful opportunity, there are still limitations. For example, not every landlord has to accept these vouchers as a form of payment. On top of that, there can be long waitlists before actually receiving the vouchers, even if you receive approval!
HUD provides a variety of affordable rental housing opportunities. Another popular option is Public Housing. Unlike Section 8, this housing doesn’t involve the private market. That’s because the landlord in this case, would be the government. Whether you move into a home, or an apartment, there are a variety of properties to consider. Similarly to Section 8, it is managed locally through Housing Agencies (HAs). This will be where you can begin the application process and get more information.
Talk to Your Current Landlord
When people think of getting affordable rental housing, they usually think that they need to look for other options. However, the solution may be right where they are already at! If you are currently renting, talk to your landlord. They may be more flexible than you think! You can explain why you are facing financial hardship. This could result in a successful negotiation where you are paying a more affordable rent! Not every landlord will be open to negotiating, but you won’t know until you try.
See if There is Local Support
While we discussed federal opportunities above for affordable housing, you want to be mindful of more specialized options. There are support opportunities at both the local and state level. At the state level, residents can access state-specific opportunities. On the other hand, local support opportunities usually aim to help people within the community they are servicing. So checking out what’s available may be able to provide some options that you didn’t know were available!
In conclusion, finding affordable rental housing with SNAP benefits may require some effort, but there are resources and programs available to help. Not only can SNAP recipients benefit from the opportunities above. Options like the following can provide people with rental housing that’s more affordable:
- Government resources
- Negotiations with your current landlord
- Local resources
Affordable rental housing may be more in reach than you realize! You just need to know where to turn and what options are out there.