How much do you usually pay for housing? Do you think your place has a fair rent rate? If not, you probably need assistance with housing costs. There are several opportunities for help available through the federal government and private non-profits. These opportunities can offer you affordable, decent, and secure housing. This way, you may be able to save some money on housing so that you can afford other needs, like child care, transportation, and more. However, you should keep in mind that not every housing assistance option will work for you. For this reason, you should review what’s available to decide which is best for your circumstances. In this article, you will learn more about the most popular assistance options and how to apply for them.
Affordable Housing Options to Consider
When looking at housing aid, it is important to remember that affordable housing is different for everyone. HUD a.k.a the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development defines affordable housing as no more than 30% of your income. So for example, a person making 4k a month, by HUD definition should be able to afford housing for $1,200. But what happens when you spend more than what you can afford and fall behind? You’ll most likely need assistance, and that’s where the following options come into play:
Though all forms of housing aid, each program is separate from one another. With each having their own application process, eligibility requirements, and ways in which they help.
This is an excellent solution for people who need immediate housing assistance. Basically, there are four common types of supportive housing, including:
- Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)
- Emergency Shelters
- Transitional Shelters
- Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)
The primary focus of RRH is to provide immediate accommodation for those in need. This applies to people who don’t sleep on the streets very often; in other words, “non-chronically homeless” people. This housing option comes with a variety of support services, such as case management and short-term financial aid. So, if you don’t occasionally deal with homelessness, RRH can assist you in finding temporary housing and other resources if you need them.
In times of disasters and emergencies, this option will be excellent for immediate housing. Families who are in urgent need of a safe place to stay should take advantage of the emergency shelters that are available. People who are temporarily homeless can receive assistance from shelters like this. They can offer them a secure place to stay as well as helpful resources to bring their lives back to normal. However, there is often a maximum limit on how long a person may stay at a shelter, but this varies depending on the place. They serve as a temporary solution and can’t be a reliable source of housing assistance for too long.
Transitional shelters offer access to helpful programs, resources, and housing support that you won’t find at your typical emergency shelter. Supportive services are available to help people in a variety of ways, including:
- Secure employment
- Obtain medical treatment
- Improve their mental health
- Other relevant services
The transitional shelter allows people to stay for a longer period of time. This period of time might range between six months and twenty-four months, depending on the area. But you can expect every shelter to serve the same purpose of providing temporary accommodation.
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
As a “housing first” solution, this option focuses on helping people who deal with chronic homelessness, or, in other words, those who don’t have a secure place to live. It has the same objective as shelters, which is to help residents get long-term housing as soon as possible.
With PSH, this group of people can find housing assistance alongside other benefits to help them get back on their feet. Since this opportunity is only available for chronically homeless people, eligibility requirements include:
- Spending at least one year or four separate instances over the course of three years, with the total time being one year in emergency shelters or Safe Havens.
- Staying in unsuitable locations for human habitation for at least a year or four separate periods spread out over three years, with the total time being one year.
- Staying in Institutional Care Facilities for 90 days at most and have previously lived in one of the locations mentioned above.
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
This housing program can provide vouchers to qualifying families. The Housing Choice Voucher Program works to help low income families find a place to call their own. However, first you must qualify in a number of categories. You’ll most likely see family status , income level , and eviction history as a section. It’s also important to note that these categories are determined by your local Public Housing authority or PHA for short. You might find difficulty locating a property that accepts housing vouchers. These vouchers are used to cover housing expenses and not every property accepts them. On top of this you may have to worry about whether the property will pass inspection, as one will have to be done by a PHA.
This federal program is administered on a local level by Housing Agencies (HAs). So, if you are interested in applying for Public Housing, you should get in touch with a local HA office. However, if you are having issues connecting with your local HA, you will want to contact your local HUD Field Office. As a general rule of thumb, have a backup plan. Even if you qualify for this program you can still be denied for various reasons. So take into account the following factors when applying and keep your options open:
- Family Status
- Income Level
- Citizenship Status
All in All
It seems that for many people, home expenses might be a pain point. You should seek help if you feel like you can’t afford this expense on your own. There are actually many options available. In general, housing payments shouldn’t exceed 30% of your monthly gross income. But if you can’t achieve that, you might want to have a look at your options. If you need any information on affordable housing, your local PHA is a great resource. Habitat for Humanity and 211.org are two more organizations that may be able to assist you. It wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot; you never know what you could find.