County housing authorities and the federal government, through the United States Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency, govern low-income housing. Assistance is provided through public housing assistance programs. Housing can be in the form of an apartment, single or multi-family house, town home or condominium. There are also programs that provide assistance for families and individuals to become homeowners of HUD-qualified and approved low-income homes for purchase.
Applicants must meet low-income qualifications set by HUD. In most instances, this means that the annual income of the applicant or family cannot exceed 50 percent of the median annual income for families in the area. The government will determine the amount of rent you will be required to pay. Typically, the government will provide somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of the monthly rent. Income qualifications can be lower for applicants who are elderly, retired, veterans or disabled. County housing authority agencies govern and provide specific information about income requirements, and qualifications are reset each year.
Subsidized Apartments and Homes
A person who qualifies for low-income housing can search for apartments and homes available for rent in his county. The apartment complex must meet inspection requirements by HUD and the housing authority, and be on the approved list of apartments. The HUD website is a convenient source to search online for apartments. Written lists are also available from respective county housing authorities.
Public housing is also an alternative for those who seek low-income housing. In addition to HUD and county housing authorities, county agencies that govern family and children’s services can provide information and applications. Waiting lists can often be long, so it is best to apply in advance of need and inquire frequently on waiting list status.
Tenant Based Housing Choice Vouchers
In an effort to assist individuals and families with low-income housing needs, HUD and county authorities offer the tenant-based Housing Choice Voucher Program. This program is commonly referred to as Section 8. Once approved, applicants are able to independently search for housing in an apartment building or home, which in many instances can help gain housing quicker. However, the property owner of the home or apartment building must be willing to apply for approval by HUD and the county housing authority, and pass a housing inspection if the property does not already have Section 8 approval.
The federal government typically pays a minimum of 60 percent of the monthly rent amount. The balance is due and payable each month by the tenant. In addition, the monthly rent cannot exceed the fair market rent maximum set by HUD, unless the tenant wants to pay the difference.
HUD also operates low-income housing programs to assist families in becoming homeowners. To qualify, family members cannot have been a homeowner within the last three years. The combined income of adult family members must be more than the federal minimum hourly wage, multiplied by 2,000 hours. At least one adult family member must demonstrate more than one year on the job with the same employer. There are income exceptions and different calculations for families with disabled members. It is best to contact HUD for more information because rules and qualifications are subject to change.