Many Americans out there cannot afford housing expenses. Before the pandemic in 2019, approximately 44 million homes were struggling to pay for housing. After the pandemic, there have been more people struggling than there were in 2019. The Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) defines affordable housing as when a person only spends 30% or less of their wages on housing each month. To put things in perspective, if you earn $2,000 per month, you should not spend more than $600 on housing. Thankfully, there are a lot of housing support options that can help you with your housing situation!
Available Housing Support Options
When housing costs get too expensive, a lot of people can lose hope. If you feel the same way, you are not the only one suffering. However, there might be more hope than you think! There are a lot of assistance options and other support out there that could help you manage your housing costs. This would include:
- Public Housing
- Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
- Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program
- Rural Homeownership Direct Loan Program
- Rural Rental Housing Loans
- Farm Labor Housing Loans
- Mixed-Income Housing
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with Aids (HOPWA)
Public housing is a popular housing support option that supports over one million families across the United States. This option can offer private homes, duplexes, and more. Qualifying recipients will receive housing for free through public housing. The HUD offers the funds for the public housing program and the local public housing authority (PHA) is responsible for managing the program. It’s important to keep in mind that there are many who are eligible for public housing but are unable to receive it. This is because the program could be short of available units. Approved or not, waitlists are a big possibility and it could take a while before you actually get the help you need.
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
Another common housing support option is the housing choice voucher program (also known as Section 8). Qualifying applicants will receive housing vouchers from the Section 8 program to use for housing in the private market. How much the voucher holds for a family depends on the information they present on their application. This includes information about the family’s size, how much they earn, and so on. However, housing vouchers are only applicable for properties that accept this type of payment.
The government works on promoting landlords to accept housing vouchers through tax incentives. Sadly, even with the government’s efforts, the program is still short of units. That is why this housing support option also has waitlists, similar to public housing. Also, your local PHA is responsible for offering assistance. You can benefit a lot from talking to your local PHA since they are the ones responsible for managing this opportunity.
The federal government recognizes that senior citizens could suffer through different challenges because of their age. This would include working, having more medical debt, health issues, and so on. That is where the Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program comes into play. This program can support qualifying seniors who are at least the age of 62 to receive housing support.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) works on offering housing support to people who are residing in rural locations. That is why the Rural Housing Service (RHS), a USDA agency, offers this support option for loans. Created by the RHS, loans are disbursed to qualifying families with restricted income to help with building, fixing, or improving their homes in rural areas. The money can also support households moving to a property in a specific rural location!
Even though the title of the program says rental, this program offers mortgage loans to qualifying people. These loans are competitive and direct, which could benefit households in getting affordable homes. Despite the fact that these loans are usually used for mortgages, recipients can use these loans to buy land, renovate land, or to fix necessary utilities such as water and waste disposal systems.
Farm Labor Housing Loans
Farm laborers that require additional money to purchase, build, fix up, or renovate their homes should consider farm labor housing loans. However, they need to make sure they qualify for a loan first. This type of loan is not only for land farmers. Actually, farmers that work with fish or oysters (aqua farmers) can qualify for these loans too!
Mixed-Income Housing might not be traditional when it comes to what you think of housing assistance. However, this is a great way for individuals to find affordable housing. Mixed-income housing comes from properties that are owned privately by landlords or property management companies. This type of housing provides a certain number of housing units at a reduced rental price. The rental price could vary based on your income, or it could be a set price. This depends on which complex you go to!
Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)
HOPWA is a housing support option that assists individuals with housing and more! For example, the HOPWA could offer treatment for chemical dependency, treatment for mental health, services to help with nutrition, employment training, placement assistance, and helping people with their daily lives. This support option is meant to help those who have HIV/AIDS and meet other eligibility conditions too!
If You Do Not Qualify for Housing Support, What Can You Do?
Sometimes, you might find that you need housing support, but do not qualify. In that case, things might start looking a little tough. If that happens to you, then you should consider other ways to get affordable housing. You could always:
- Consider a Roommate
- Think About Moving
- Look for Another Income Source
Consider a Roommate
Getting a roommate could help split the costs of housing and it would make it more affordable. Let’s say that you pay rent each month for an apartment with two bedrooms of $2,000. Rather than dealing with the bill on your own, you can split the cost in half with a roommate. That way, you would only pay $1,000 for housing. This is way more cost-effective than renting out an apartment with one bedroom that costs $1,300. Your roommate could also be able to help you with other housing expenses such as food, utility bills, and so on.
When you look for a roommate, you need to make sure that they are reliable and that you can trust them. First, the best place to look for a roommate is with your friends and family. If none of them are interested, you can go online and look for candidates there. Make sure they give you a background and credit check so you know who you are potentially living with.
Think About Moving
If you are living somewhere that costs too much, you should think about moving. As an example, the average price of rent in Los Angeles, California for a place is $2,734 (as of September 2022). On the other hand, the average rental price for a housing unit in Mobile, Alabama is $1,083 (as of September 2022). You can see the difference, right? Despite the fact that the example offers two very different locations, you should think about moving to an area that is close to your old apartment but way more affordable. There is a possibility that an apartment that is 30 minutes away from your old town could cost a couple of hundred less than your current apartment.
Look for Another Income Source
If there is no way for you to reduce your housing expenses, then maybe you should try it the other way around and increase your income. You can think about getting either a part-time or full-time job that has flexible hours. There are many online jobs that you can consider. This includes virtual assistants, translators, and so on. You should want a job that does not affect your schedule but offers more income to improve your financial and housing situation.
The Bottom Line
Many American households are suffering from the high costs of housing. You are not the only one going through it. On the other hand, there are many things that you can do for affordable housing. Even if you cannot qualify for any of the available support options, you can consider getting affordable housing through a roommate, moving to a new place, or getting another job. Do not lose hope: your housing situation can get better!