The high cost of rent compared to wages makes subsidized housing a necessity for many low-income earners. While subsidized housing was once thought of as a way for those on public assistance to have a home for their families, inflated rents have forced many middle-income families to seek help paying their rent as well. Qualifications will vary between the programs, especially those that are designed for middle-income working families.
Public vs. Subsidized Housing
Most people tend to lump public housing and subsidized housing into one category thinking they are the same thing. There is a very distinct difference between public and subsidized housing, namely the landlord. In public housing the housing authority owns the buildings they lease, whether they are houses or apartment buildings. The housing authority may hire a manager or private company to manage the buildings they own, but the housing authority is still the owner and landlord.
Under subsidized housing private owners have agreed to lease their properties to low- or moderate-income families. They receive a subsidy from the government in exchange for their participation in these programs. The subsidy may be in the form of an individual voucher or a subsidy for a multifamily dwelling.
You are probably familiar with individual vouchers qualified tenants receive to acquire subsidized housing. Section 8 is the program that landlords utilize that allows low- to moderate-income families to choose where they wish to live. There are approximately 130 agencies that offer Section 8 vouchers and are usually through government agencies such as the city, county, state or federal housing offices. Unlike public housing that is limited by the location of the housing authority, subsidized housing allows an individual to chose the location of his or her home or apartment. Once a person qualifies for subsidized housing they can use the voucher to go wherever they desire provided the landlord is willing to accept tenants under the voucher system.
In addition to the Section 8 individual voucher system there are also multifamily subsidies available for owners of those properties. You must apply to each property in which you are interested in living taking into consideration they may not necessarily have an opening at the time they open applications. Quite often they take applications in order to develop a list of interested tenants for the future.
It is important to not confuse multifamily subsidized housing with another program that is designed for low- to moderate-income working families. That program also falls under federal guidelines but is designed specifically for working families while multifamily subsidized housing accepts both working and non-working tenants who meet the program's guidelines.
Qualifictions for Subsidized Housing
In order to be approved for subsidized housing your income must fall below a certain amount. The amount you are allowed to make to qualify depends on the size of your family. This amount will also depend upon whether utilities are included with your rent and whether you live in a Section 8 voucher property or in a multifamily subsidized community. if you have a Section 8 voucher, you can take it with you if you choose to move out of state but the same is not true if you move from a multifamily subsidized community because the subsidy is attached to the property and not the individual tenant.
Waiting Lists and Priorities
In most subsidized housing, whether individual vouchers or multifamily subsidies, there is a waiting list. In addition to the waiting list there is also a priority list for those who meet certain criteria. This may vary according to the program and property, but it is safe to assume that those who are in homeless shelters will have priority over someone who is looking to move from a safe and sound environment, even if that may mean they are living with relatives.
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