It may be difficult to find a suitable place to live if your income is limited. Fortunately, there are resources available to assist you with locating affordable housing options.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers two distinct programs to low-income individuals and families who meet specific criteria.
HUD created the public housing program to accommodate the housing needs of families, seniors and disabled individuals living on a limited income. The housing units provide a modest and secure residence to qualified applicants.
To be considered for inclusion in the program, you must:
- Not have an annual gross income that exceeds the income limit established by HUD (varies by location)
- Be disabled, elderly or a family
- Be a US Citizen or possess an eligible immigration status
If you meet the qualifying criteria and wish to apply for public housing, contact your local housing authority to obtain the appropriate written application.
Housing Choice Voucher
The best known form of low income housing assistance in the United States is the Section 8 rental voucher program. It enables qualifying applicants to select a property that meets appropriate standards set forth by HUD.
Participants are not confined to subsidized housing units offered under the public housing program. Instead, they can select a qualifying apartment, townhome or single-family home if the landlord accepts Section 8 as a form of payment. With these vouchers, tenants pay about 30-to-40 percent of their monthly income for their rent and the Public Housing Authority pays the difference up to what is determined to be fair market value for that particular area. All properties must be approved by the respective public housing agency before it is occupied.
Applicants must have an income that is less than or equal to 50% of the median income in their county or metropolitan area to qualify for inclusion into the program. The median income can be retrieved using the income limit database once you have entered your state and county of residence.
To apply for a Housing Choice Voucher, contact your local housing authority to obtain the appropriate written application.
Low-income individuals looking to purchase a home also have options.
Public Housing Homeownership Programs
The Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act permits the sale of public housing properties to tenants who use the property as their primary residence. Programs vary by location and property type, so contact your local public housing authority for additional information.
To be eligible for the program:
- Your income must not be greater than 80% of your area's median income
- The property must be the principle residence
- You must have adequate funds to make the required down payment
- Expenses associated with the home should be 35% or less of adjusted income
To learn more about the public housing homeownership program, visit HUD online. You will need to contact your local housing authority to retrieve an application.
Homeownership Voucher Program
Homeownership vouchers assist low-income first time homebuyers with their mortgage and corresponding homeowner expenses including:
- Principal and interest
- Mortgage insurance
- Property taxes
- Homeowner's insurance
- Standard maintenance
- Mandatory replacements and repairs
- Costs associated with making improvements to accommodate disabled individuals
To be eligible for the program, you must:
- Be a first-time homebuyer or member of a cooperative
- Have a household income that exceeds the sum of 2,000 multiplied by the Federal minimum hourly wage (for those who are disabled, income must be more than the sum of 12 multiplied by the Supplemental Security Income benefit)
- Have full-time employment status for at least one year
- Complete any required homeownership counseling
This program is only available through select Public Housing Authorities, and the amount of assistance rendered varies by family. Check with your local housing authority to find out if this program is offered in your area.
Be sure to check with your local housing authority for additional rental and homeowner programs for low-income individuals and families that are exclusive to your area of residence.