Government Housing More Affordable

No one is really happy when it’s time to pay rent. For the average Joe and Jane, rent takes up a significant percentage of our wages and salaries. With everything getting more expensive every day, rent is no exception. However, there’s no reason to struggle without exploring options that could possibly save you a pretty penny.

The federal government created several housing assistance opportunities that aim to help with the growing housing issue. These programs mainly target low- and moderate-income individuals and families. The trick to finding the right program for you is to do your research and prepare any required documents. It’s also essential to only rely on information provided by official sources. In this article, we’ll take a look at some options you might want to look into and how you can apply for them.

What Is Government Housing Assistance?

Government housing opportunities are a series of housing programs available for low- and moderate-income families and individuals. The gist of it is that the federal government can provide affordable housing for people who potentially would be homeless otherwise. However, you must remember, every program comes with different perks and every program also comes with different terms of eligibility.

Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV)

Who doesn’t like a good voucher, right? Alright, so these are definitely worth more than your average supermarket vouchers. HCV, also known as Section 8 vouchers, are meant to give low-income families access to affordable housing. To put it simply, Housing Choice Voucher holders can rent a house and only pay a fraction of the rent.

Here’s a bit of background information. So the program was created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The idea is to get low-income families to find homes that accept these vouchers. Families must also qualify as low-income, compared to the median income in their local area. Applicants must also head to their local Public Housing Authority (PHA) to start the applications. The PHA also serves as a great source of reliable information on this program, as well as other federal housing programs.

Here are a few things you should know before applying for HCV:

  • You must qualify as low-income, compared to the median income of your local city/county
  • You must find a house that accepts the vouchers on your own
  • The down payment/security deposit for the rented house is your sole responsibility
  • You must pass a criminal background check
  • Housing Choice Vouchers recipients end up paying around 30% of the rent, while the government takes care of the rest

Low-Income Individuals Can Also Get Their Own Rooms

Under Section 8 exists a program called Single Room Occupancy (SRO). It basically works the same way as the normal Housing Choice Vouchers, but for rooms, rather than full houses. The idea is to give very low-income and homeless individuals a safe room to live in. Rooms will often come as part of houses that have bathrooms, kitchens, living spaces, laundry rooms, and occasionally meeting rooms.

Transitional Housing

Starting off with what “Transitional Housing” actually means. The term refers to housing programs that aim to help individuals transition from unsafe housing/homelessness to eventual permanent housing.

Under the Continuum of Care (CoC) Homeless Assistance Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development created a variety of solutions. Each solution tackles a different set of needs and different degrees of effectiveness towards that transition we mentioned before. We’ll list the different options offered, how long occupants can use them, and how to be eligible for them.

Rapid Re-Housing

The first program we’re mentioning here has proven to be very effective in fighting homelessness. Rapid Re-housing is a program that aims to help individuals overcome the difficulties that lead them toward homelessness. These difficulties can be domestic abuse, drug addiction, mental health issues, or any other factor getting in the way of establishing a stable life.

With the help of qualified staff, individuals can work on improving their lives. The program will focus on improving individuals’ employability and social abilities. In the meantime, these individuals will have a safe space to call home, until they find their permanent homes.

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)

One can only imagine how difficult it can be to run a low-income family. Adding the factor of a disabled member, low-income families will be less likely to make ends meet. This is where PSH steps in.

Permanent Supportive Housing will provide long-term or lease housing, charging low rent rates. These housing solutions are exclusive to low-income families that include at least one disabled member. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the term “disability” refers to any physical or developmental disability. It also refers to individuals suffering from chronic mental illnesses.

Not only will PSH provide affordable housing, but will also offer supportive services, to ease the lives of those families. These supportive services focus on both the disabled member(s) and the family as a whole. Here’s the list of supportive services PSH provides:

  • Annual Assessment of Services
  • Moving costs
  • Case management
  • Childcare
  • Education services
  • Employment assistance and job training
  • Food
  • Housing search and counseling services
  • Legal services
  • Life skills training
  • Mental health services
  • Outpatient health services
  • Outreach services
  • Substance abuse treatment services
  • Transportation
  • Utility deposits

What If I Need A Place To Stay Right Now?

There comes a time in every person’s life when things can get exceptionally difficult. In some situations, these difficulties can drive a person out of their home and onto the street. Thankfully, the federal government has built shelters in every state that can take in people for the night. Some shelters can also take people in for longer, we’ll look into that further down the article.

Types Of Shelters

Different shelters will serve different purposes. Some shelters are there to support the local homeless. Other shelters are present in case of an emergency. Finally, some shelters will take people to help them stand on their own 2 feet, and live more stable lives. So let’s talk about the different kinds of shelters available, shall we?

Homeless Shelters

This is the most common type of shelter. As mentioned above, shelters are available in every state across the country. You’ll probably find homeless shelters more often than any other type of shelter. Homeless shelters are there for individuals who are living on the streets. These individuals may struggle financially, or be victims of some sort of abuse. Homeless shelters will accommodate all those who need them.

In a homeless shelter, individuals will have their own bed to sleep on for the night. They will also have access to a warm meal. Most interestingly, homeless shelters will sometimes provide psychological and/or physical guidance. Moreover, after a person stays in a homeless shelter, they will be referred to other nearby shelters in case they need them in the future.

Homeless shelters will often only take in people for 24 hours at a time. So, residents only get to spend the night, before freeing up the bed for someone else. Homeless shelters also operate on a first-come-first-serve basis. That means that whoever needs one, needs to get in line, and there is a chance beds might run out before they get their turns.

If you’re in need of a homeless shelter, check out this map. All shelters across the country will be listed, and will also be organized by state and city. The page also provides information on alternatives to homeless shelters, if need be.

Emergency Shelters

This kind of shelter acts the same way a homeless shelter would. However, there are a few differences. First, emergency shelters are only available to those going through government-declared emergencies. These emergencies can be natural disasters or potential terrorist attacks. Second, emergency shelters will not only take in individuals but also families going through the struggle.

On the other hand, the process of accessing an emergency shelter is the same as a homeless shelter. It’s also based on first-come-first-serve. Priority is given to those applying for help in person. Emergency shelters will provide temporary/brief accommodation before needing to free up space for other needy.

Transitional Shelters

Ok, so we talked about how residents of emergency shelters and homeless shelters can only stay around 24 hours. Things are different with transitional shelters. Transitional Shelters will take in residents for a period of 6-24 months. Much like Rapid Re-Housing, transitional shelters focus on helping their residents overcome difficulties. These difficulties can be the result of mental issues, addictions, or even domestic issues. During a resident’s stay, they will work with qualified staff on addressing these issues and figuring out ways to improve their lives. The aim is to help these individuals transition to a stable life and a permanent home.

Public Housing

You might think you don’t want to stay temporarily in a homeless shelter. You might also not want to search for a house that will take Housing Choice Vouchers. If so, public housing is for you. Public housing is basically a series of housing projects built by the federal government. The idea is to provide subsidized housing (most commonly in apartment complexes), that charge low rental rates for low-income families.

Public housing focuses on empowering families and protecting them from homelessness and other kinds of housing instability. By saving money on rent, families will have more money to spend on food and other necessities. Public housing projects will also be situated near schools and other services. Public housing will also allow elderly people, as well as disabled individuals, to stay.

Housing Loans

It’s safe to assume that having a permanent home leads to a more stable life, especially when it comes to families. Having a place of their own can be a deciding factor towards a stable upbringing. That’s why some low-income families and individuals will choose to buy their homes, instead of renting. As a result, the federal government created several loan programs to help families buy their homes. Every loan we’re about to mention serves a different situation and also will require different qualifications. So, do your research and find the loan program that fits you best.

Rural Homeownership Direct Loan Program

You’ll find this program also under the name Section 502. The general idea of this program is to provide rural housing for low- and very-low-income families. The program provides “payment assistance to increase an applicant’s repayment ability. Payment assistance is a type of subsidy that reduces the mortgage payment for a short time. The amount of assistance is determined by the adjusted family income.”

To qualify for this loan, applicants’ homes must meet the following criteria:

  • 2,000 square feet or less
  • Meets loan limit requirements
  • Does not have in-ground swimming pools
  • Is not be used for income-producing activities

Farm Labor Housing Loans 

This loan program will focus on financing domestic farm laborers to build their own homes. The program will help eligible candidates buy, build, improve and repair housing for farm laborers. These loans will have a 33-year payback period and a fixed 1% interest rate. Applicants for this loan should know that only the following list is allowed to live in this type of housing:

  • Domestic farm laborers, including those working on fish and oyster farms and on-farm processing (1)
  • Retired and/or disabled farm laborers
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Very low- to moderate-income households

Veteran Affairs Loan (VA Loans)

As a show of gratitude towards our country’s military personnel, the federal government created a special housing loan. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) created a program to make it easier for veterans to apply for and pay back loans. Veterans (and their spouses) may apply for housing loans from private organizations, such as banks, and the loan will be guaranteed by VA.

VA itself will require no down payment, however private lenders might. VA will also ask for very low-interest rates, as well as limited closing costs. To put the icing on the cake, there will be no need for Private Mortgage Insurance. The VA loan is also a lifetime benefit.

Bottom Line

There are a variety of different assistance options that can help. Regardless of what you are dealing with, there may be federal assistance that can provide support. If you need extra help, you will want to talk to your local PHA to see what housing options are available in your area.