It may not come to you as a surprise, but housing is an expense that many Americans overspend on. Experts recommend that families do not spend more than 30% of their gross income on housing. When families go beyond that 30%, they become cost-burdened. This may lead families to make sacrifices when it comes to other necessary things such as healthcare, food, education, transportation, and more. For that very reason, affordable housing is something that these families should work towards finding.
There’s a long list of affordable housing opportunities for those who need them. The government has numerous affordable housing options but they’re not the only ones offering such assistance. The goal of this article is to highlight some of the affordable housing opportunities people may benefit from. We’ll also focus on where they can find such opportunities.
What is Affordable Housing?
Before getting into what kind of affordable housing opportunities are available, we should look into what affordable housing means for each person. To get a better understanding of affordable housing, you’ll need to have a better understanding of your finances. For this specific discussion, your monthly income is the part of your finances that we want to focus on.
When it comes to affordable housing, we want to look at your gross income. Gross income is the money you make before paying taxes and other necessary deductions. For example, let’s assume you work 40 hours each week at $20 an hour. That would mean you make around $800 a week. There are four weeks in a month, so you should be making around $3,200 a month in gross income in that case. If affordable housing is supposed to be at 30% of your gross income, you shouldn’t be paying more than $960 a month for housing. That can prove itself to be pretty challenging, especially since the average American renter spends $1,326 a month on housing. That is where affordable housing opportunities come into play.
Where You Can Find Affordable Housing Opportunities
Let’s look at some of the affordable housing opportunities that could help you out with your situation:
If you research this program, you may come across it under another name which is Section 8 housing. This is a federal housing assistance program that provides qualifying low-income individuals and families with vouchers that help them acquire affordable housing. However, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is not the one responsible for running the program. Instead, they give the responsibility to local public housing authorities (PHAs). The idea behind this program is to help cover a portion of a qualifying applicant’s rent through these vouchers. Usually, a voucher holder will pay up to 30% of their income on their rent and use the voucher to pay for whatever is left on the bill. There are a few conditions, though. First, landlords of the homes must accept these vouchers as a form of payment. Second, PHAs will inspect these homes to make sure they meet the standards PHAs require.
A Bit Of Extra Information
The assistance program aims to help those who need it the most. That’s why being eligible for the program is essential to receive its benefits. However, eligibility terms may differ from one area to another, but there are generally four factors that your local PHA will consider: your citizenship status, your eviction history, your household size, and your income level.
It’s important to note that your income and your household size are directly connected since both of them paint the picture of your financial situation. A single person who makes $3,200 a month is not the same as a household of 5 that makes the same amount. Besides that, if you plan on applying for the program, you’ll need to hand in your application to your local PHA. Your local PHA can also answer any questions you might have regarding Housing Choice Vouchers. If your application is accepted, your local PHA will usually put you on a waitlist. These waitlists can take years, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for immediate assistance.
As we’ve already mentioned, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has several affordable housing opportunities available to those who qualify for them. Public housing is another fantastic example of such opportunities. Public housing aims to help low-income households that qualify for the program. Although HUD created the program, it’s the local housing authorities (HAs) that manage the units. Qualifying terms for the program may differ from one area to another. You can expect those qualifications to revolve around the following:
- Yearly gross income
- Family status
- Citizenship status
If an applicant qualifies for the program, they should expect their local HA to confirm their references. This is to confirm that the applicant will be a good tenant. Assuming the applicant meets all their HA’s requirements for the program, the HA still reserves the right to deny them assistance. That may happen if they deem the applicant’s habits and practices may negatively impact other tenants. If an individual or a household is interested in applying for public housing, they should contact their local HA. They can also contact their local HUD Field Office.
The government is not the only one that provides affordable housing assistance. Other organizations like nonprofits have opportunities too like supportive housing. Different forms of supportive housing include:
- Emergency Shelters
- Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
- Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)
- Transitional Shelters
In certain situations, some families may find themselves struggling with emergencies that may lead them towards homelessness. Emergency shelters are here to help those families out. These shelters aim to provide immediate assistance to achieve short-term stability for those in need. The time families can stay in these shelters may differ from one shelter to another.
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
Permanent supportive housing aims to help people who chronically deal with homelessness. For someone to be deemed as chronically homeless, they will need to live in:
- Places that are not suitable for humans to live (for at least a total of 12 months).
- Emergency shelters (for at least a total of 12 months).
- Safe havens (for at least a total of 12 months).
- Institutional care facilities (for no more than 90 days and also have lived in the options listed above before arriving at the facility).
On top of being chronically homeless, some of these people may struggle with disabilities as well. For that reason, this type of long-term housing support can be a great opportunity. Besides offering safe, stable housing, PSH provides numerous supportive opportunities. PSH is a “housing first solution” which means it focuses on providing support as soon as possible while supporting individuals in their journey towards becoming independent.
Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)
This form of supportive housing focuses on giving people immediate housing. That means it also qualifies as a “housing first solution.” RRH is meant for people who don’t usually deal with homelessness. Those individuals are known as non-chronic homeless. Non-chronic homeless individuals may find RRH and its supportive services very beneficial.
Our last entry on our affordable housing assistance list is transitional shelters. This type of shelter provides longer temporary housing to those going through hard times. Typically, these shelters will take qualifying tenants in for a period of six to 24 months. The exact amount of time tenants can stay in these shelters will differ from one shelter to another. Transitional shelters focus on taking homeless individuals in and providing them with supportive services that work on their health, employment, and more.
When individuals and families need affordable housing, they can find more assistance opportunities than they probably thought possible. Before these people look for affordable housing, they need to understand what their budget looks like. Understanding their budgets would help them have a clearer picture of the kind of assistance that would fit their situations best. Some of the affordable housing opportunities that would be worthwhile include:
While these affordable housing opportunities are great, people in need may also find help through non-profit organizations. Some of these great organizations include 211.org and Habitat for Humanity. People in need of affordable housing should always contact professionals to help them with the matter, and local PHAs are a fantastic option when it comes to that sort of counseling.