Saving on housing can help people afford other essential needs like medical care, food, and education. That’s why support is necessary, especially for people with low incomes. People in need can get housing support from different sources including the federal government and private organizations. These support opportunities might relieve them from the burden of expensive housing. They serve different groups of people in various ways. Some of these opportunities might even offer more services than just housing. In general, it’s important to be aware of the popular sources of support whether you’re dealing with financial difficulties or not!
Your Guide To Getting Affordable Housing
If you ask multiple individuals with different income levels about what affordable housing means, you will most likely get different answers. That’s because what’s affordable for you, might be too expensive for somebody else. For this reason, it was important to find a way to determine whether or not housing costs are affordable. In this article, you will find answers to the following questions:
- Do I Live in Affordable Housing?
- Where Can I Find Affordable Housing and How Do I Apply for it?
Do I Need Affordable Housing?
It’s easy to determine if you live in affordable housing or if you are cost-burdened. Simply put, you can see if your housing costs are more or less than 30% of your gross income. If it’s exactly 30% or less, this means it’s affordable. However, if you are spending more than 30% of your income on housing, this means you are considered cost-burdened and probably need housing support. This is according to The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) definition of affordable housing.
Generally speaking, understanding your financial situation is the first step in finding affordable housing. Let’s take an example to understand how affordable housing might seem different depending on income. If someone earns $8,000 per month, $2,400 (or less) per month going towards rent/utilities will be considered affordable. However, to a person with a monthly income of $3,000, that will be too much to pay for rent every month. Instead, they might consider rent of $900 (or less) to be reasonable.
Where Can I Find Affordable Housing and How Do I Apply for it?
According to the 30% rule we mentioned earlier, are your housing costs affordable? If not, there is no need to panic because there are quite a few housing support options available. Not all of these options provide assistance in the same way. Therefore, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how each one works. Some of these options include the following:
In some cases, a family may require accommodation immediately, regardless of cost. This is why it’s important to think about the possibility of supportive housing. Supportive housing is not a form of federal assistance but it is still an option to think about. It’s not a single program; in fact, it comes in several forms of assistance. Typical examples of supportive housing include:
- Emergency Shelters
- Transitional Shelters
- Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
- Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)
When there is an economic or domestic crisis, emergency shelters are frequently the first places people go to. They offer short-term assistance services to those who need immediate help with housing. People can usually stay at these places for a certain amount of time; however, that varies from shelter to shelter. This means that this type of housing cannot be reliable for permanent stay. Instead, it gives residents an opportunity to get out of the woods. Helping people find suitable long-term housing is a main objective of these shelters.
Transitional shelters are another type of shelter that typically provide housing and other services, including medical support and employment assistance. People who go to these shelters for assistance will probably be in need of help with these other necessities. Typically, these shelters offer the opportunity of staying for 6 to 24 months. However, each shelter will determine how long a resident can stay. These shelters are also known as “interim shelters”.
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
PSH is an example of a “housing first” approach, where the objective is to get people into permanent homes and on their feet as soon as possible. This is especially useful for those who can’t maintain a stable residence, so they deal with homelessness on a regular basis.
People experiencing what is known as chronic homelessness may benefit from Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). This is possible by offering them a wide range of programs that promote independence. As per HUD guidelines, a person is considered chronically homeless if they:
- Stay in an Institutional Care Facility for no more than 90 days, and have stayed in one of the facilities below before moving in.
- Spend at least a year in unsuitable locations for human habitation, or split that year up into four separate periods spread out over a three-year period. This time frame also applies to people who stay in Safe Havens and emergency shelters.
Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)
Non-chronic homelessness refers to situations where people do not regularly experience homelessness. This is basically what Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) deals with. Non-chronic homeless people can get the help they need with housing and other resources through RRH.
Generally speaking, it is a housing-first solution that has the goal of assisting people in need as soon as possible. Case management and financial aid are two examples of the types of assistance that are included in this housing option.
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
For people who need help with rent costs, this program might be an excellent opportunity. Some people recognize this program as Section 8, and others know it as the Housing Choice Voucher Program. This option is available thanks to the HUD, but local public housing authorities (PHAs) handle the operations and management. Families and individuals who meet the program’s requirements may receive housing vouchers.
However, these housing vouchers can’t be used in just any property. To be able to benefit from this opportunity the property should meet certain requirements. First, the landlord should be accepting these vouchers as a form of payment. The property should also pass a PHA inspection to qualify for this program. With these vouchers helping with housing costs, recipients won’t need to spend more than 30% of their income on housing. In general, there are main factors that your local PHA will look at to determine your eligibility:
- Citizenship Status
- Family Status
- Eviction History
- Income Level
However, eligibility standards may change from one area to another. This is because each state can set its own regulations.
Last but not least, Public Housing is another popular housing option that HUD offers. It’s a long-term housing program that helps thousands of families across the country.
The goal of Public Housing is to provide low-income families with safe, decent places to live at affordable prices. That’s why you need to meet specific requirements to be able to receive assistance from this support opportunity.
That being said, the exact eligibility standards you will need to meet will depend on where you apply. So, you might find out that the qualifying criteria in your state are a bit different. That’s because this federal program is managed locally by Housing Agencies (HAs), similar to the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Therefore, if you want to apply for Public Housing, you will need to contact your local HA or your local HUD Field Office.
Throughout life there are many ups and downs. Thankfully depending on your situation you could have a form of support. For those who find themselves cost burdened or unable to maintain an affordable living, the programs found above can assist in more than just a couple ways. However, it’s important to note that they each have their own qualifications and guidelines, that you might already meet. So, while you may feel like there isn’t hope when you fall behind, it’s important to remember that you can still catch up. You can lean on these various forms of support to keep a roof over your head, or even just to help with rent.