Finding affordable housing can be a challenge for those with a low income and the disabled. Some apartment rents may be too expensive, the security deposit may be too high or the apartment may not be accessible enough for your particular condition. Georgia, along with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has established housing assistance for its residents. There are low-income apartments and vouchers to help with rent. Utility assistance also is available. You also may qualify for programs that increase your income and make more options available to you and your family.
Housing Choice Vouchers
HUD distributes federal funds to local public housing authorities in Georgia, which are spread all over the state. Each public housing authority then distributes Housing Choice Vouchers to those that are eligible. Eligibility criteria vary by locality, but in general, you need to have a low income and a limited amount of assets (savings). If you're approved for a voucher, you can use it for any rental housing that will accept the voucher, as long as the public housing authority approves it as safe and healthy. The voucher is then sent directly to your landlord, and you're responsible for any difference in cost.
You can look for affordable and accessible housing through the HUD website. You can search by area down to zip code, by number of bedrooms and you can narrow it to senior, disabled or family housing. Georgiahousingsearch.org is sponsored by the United Way and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. You can search for low-income or disabled apartments by county.
Once you've located affordable housing, you also may need to pay for utility costs. The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) provides funds to help cover the costs of heating or cooling, depending on the season. There is Energy Crisis funding for the elderly or homebound about to have their heat shut down during winter. There's also Regular Home Energy Assistance, which provides a one-time subsidy each season to help with your energy bills. To qualify, you household needs to be at or below 200 percent of the poverty level, and you can apply with your local Community Action Agency.
Low-income seniors and the disabled also should consider applying to programs that increase your monthly benefits to help pay for housing. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is for the low-income aged, blind and disabled. You qualify if you have a limited income and few assets, and you can apply with your local Social Security office. Social Security disability income (SSDI) also pays a monthly benefit. To qualify, you must be unable to work or train for new work due to your disability, and your condition must be expected to last at least one year or be terminal. If you think you may qualify, contact your local Social Security office to apply.