The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) helps low-income households through affordable housing programs. Additionally, HUD helps those who are homeless or about to be homeless if they meet the criteria for income and type of household. HUD recognizes three types of households -- elderly, disabled and family -- and has specific definitions for each one. HUD may classify two families, each with two elderly people and one younger person, differently.
According to HUD, you must be at least 62 years of age and meet one of the following three situations in order to qualify as an elderly household. In the first situation, you must be living alone or be the head of household or spouse of the head of household. The second situation requires two or more elderly people living together. In the third situation, an elderly person has a live-in aide. If a household has elderly people who do not meet any of the above three scenarios, then HUD does not consider it an elderly household.
Any of the following three scenarios qualify as a disabled household. The first scenario specifies that a disabled person lives alone, is the head of household or the spouse of the head of household. The second scenario specifies two or more disabled people living together. The third situation stipulates that one or more disabled people have live-in aides.
The family household does not have elderly or disabled people as the head of household or the spouse of the head of household. For example, if you bring your elderly parents to live in your home yet you are under 62 years of age and the head of household, then you are a family household. Conversely, if you went to live in your elderly parents' home and they remained as head of household, then it would qualify as an elderly household.
HUD uses the adjusted income on your tax return, rather than gross income, to determine eligibility for housing. The amount varies depending on where you live. For example, as of 2011, a family of three living in New York City qualifies for HUD assistance with an income up to $57,050 while the same family in El Paso, Texas would not qualify with an income greater than $29,800. HUD lists its low-income guidelines on its website.