The cost of rental housing can pose a serious financial challenge to low-income families. For that reason, both state and federal agencies work to provide support for those in Georgia faced with challenging housing costs. These programs are means-tested, and available only to those qualified by their income level. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, for example, is available to renters who earn no more than 50 percent of the median income for their particular area.
Housing Choice Vouchers
Georgia's Housing Choice Voucher Program assists low-income families seeking assistance in the private housing market. Applicants first check the status of a local waiting list by calling the Department of Community Affairs at 888-858-6085, or 404-327-7912 in the Atlanta area. If the waiting list is open, the DCA office will mail out the application. After returning the completed form, candidates who meet income guidelines are placed on a county-wide waiting list. When they reach the top of the list, the DCA provides them with a voucher that covers a portion of their rent. After an applicant chooses a home or apartment, the DCA must inspect and approve the residence. The landlord then signs a contract with the DCA to provide housing and receive housing assistance payments.
Continuum of Care Groups
Under the Continuum of Care programs, various organizations band together in nine Georgia communities, as well as in a statewide program, to combat homelessness. Their makeup is different in every locality but may include housing programs, victim service agencies, faith-based groups, mental health agencies, veterans groups, law enforcement, and schools. The Georgia Coalition to End Homelessness in Marietta, for example, provides Emergency Solutions Grants, which helps qualified tenants with one-time grants to pay back rent and avoid eviction. Applicants should first call the group at 877-243-1576 for information on the process and to request forms.
Salvation Army Programs
The Salvation Army runs two programs that can assist families with rent costs in limited and temporary circumstances. An individual or family facing an emergency and unable to pay rent can apply to Project SHARE, which is supported by tax-deductible donations to the Salvation Army. A similar program is Project Hope, which helps in the case of a natural disaster, illness, fire or layoff. The first step in seeking out these programs is to contact the Salvation Army, where a case worker verifies information and processes applications for assistance.
Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
A Tenant-Based Rental Assistance program provides 24 months of financial help to eligible applicants, who must be part of a Georgia program known as Money Follows the Person. Designed for elderly or disabled individuals, MFP helps those in institutions like group homes or assisted living facilities to find an apartment or home of their own. Applications are available online at the DCA's Forms and Documents Library, or by calling the DCA.
Rental Assistance for the Elderly
Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Georgia also takes part in the Section 202 program, which assists renters aged 62 and above. This program does not provide vouchers or provide funds to individuals. Rather, the federal grants fund charitable and not-for-profit groups that provide low-income elderly residents with housing and other services, which may include housekeeping, meals, and/or transportation. The program requires a contribution from renters of up to 30 percent of the cost of their housing.
- GA Department of Community Affairs: Applying to the Housing Choice Voucher Program
- HUD.gov: Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program
- NeedHelpPayingBills.com: Georgia Salvation Army Financial Assistance
- Georgia DCA: Georgia Balance of State Continuum of Care (BoS CoC)
- NeedHelpPayingBills.com: Georgia Eviction Prevention and Homeless Assistance.
- DCA: HOME Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA): Forms and Documents Library
- Photo Credit Goodluz/iStock/Getty Images
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