Learn About Rent & Housing Assistance Programs

When someone has been stuck in a tough economic situation for quite some time, it’s natural to feel like there is no help available; but, it’s simply not true.

The United States has plenty of federal assistance programs that can help alleviate some of the burdens regarding economic woes.

These federal programs were essentially created for those who need an extra push in times of need, and many candidates qualify for multiple benefit programs.

Housing is a large expense for many Americans. Households must often contribute 50 percent or more toward their housing costs.

As a result, residents with low incomes struggle to afford other basic needs. However, the government offers several housing and rental assistance programs for those struggling to pay their bills.

These assistance programs enable residents to save money on their housing costs so they can purchase other necessities.

There are different types of housing and rental assistance options that Americans can apply for. Some residents may be able to obtain low-cost government housing while others can receive assistance for their rent payments.

Moreover, some households may qualify to obtain financial assistance in paying for heating and cooling costs.

However, all interested residents must apply to receive housing assistance and earning a low income is only one factor in the application process. Depending on the program, applicants must meet other eligibility criteria.

Learn About Public Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides several housing assistance options for eligible residents.

Many Americans we earn very low-incomes qualify to live in public housing. Exact income amounts vary depending on the median income of a given area. However, qualifying incomes are usually 50 to 80 percent of an area’s median income.

In addition, public housing is reserved for the most vulnerable populations. Besides low-income residents this includes those who are dependents, elderly or disabled.

Public housing is owned and managed by the government. All public housing units are maintained at a certain standard of cleanliness and safety because housing assistance is meant to provide Americans with decent and sanitary living conditions.

In return, public housing tenants are required to comply with their lease agreements. Furthermore, residents will be required to make rent payments depending on their incomes. However, some will not be required to contribute rent.

Learn About Housing Help Through Section 8

The housing choice voucher program, often referred to as ‘Section 8,’ is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the disabled and the elderly afford decent, sanitary and safe housing in the private market.

Housing assistance can be provided on behalf of an individual or a family. A family that receives benefits for housing is issued a housing voucher, and is responsible for finding appropriate, suitable housing.

Just as with public housings, residents must meet certain criteria to receive housing assistance under Section 8.

This includes income and household size and composition requirements. In addition, Section 8 tenants are often required to undergo a background check and a review of their past rental history.

This is because Section 8 tenants must demonstrate that they are in fact good tenants and will comply with a lease agreement.

However, residents are often on long waiting lists before they are given a voucher. These waiting lists are based on need, not who applied first. Different types of applicants are given preference in different areas.

However, families, seniors and residents with disabilities are often given preference once Section 8 units become available.

Learn About Subsidized Housing

Subsidized housing is similar to the HCV program because it is housing owned by private landlords instead of the government.

But unlike the Section 8 program, beneficiaries of subsidized housing assistance must choose to live in certain buildings or properties that were built for low-income tenants.

Section 8 properties may house residents of various incomes, but subsidized properties only house low-income residents.

However, Americans renting in private, subsidized housing are still able to find safe, sanitary and decent housing because of HUD’s standards.

They will also be required to contribute a portion of their income toward rent while their public housing authority pays for the rest directly to the landlord.

Furthermore, applicants must qualify as low or very low-income to obtain subsidized housing. The exact amount of income is determined local housing authorities and is based on the median income in a given area.

Qualifying applicants typically earn 30 to 80 percent of the median income. In addition, applicants must meet their landlord’s requirements before they be granted a unit on a particular property.

Learn About Rural Rental Assistance

While HUD assists low-income households in urban and suburban areas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers housing assistance programs for Americans living in rural areas.

This program operates in a similar way to HUD programs: new or existing rural properties are partially paid for by the USDA on the behalf of tenants. Tenants are only required to pay a small percentage of their income toward rent.

Some may be able to have the entire sum of their rent paid for by the USDA.

Eligibility is primarily based on the percentage of income that residents’ rent payment consists of.

Rent must be 30 percent or more of a household’s income in order to receive rural rental assistance. Moreover, recipients must be willing to relocate to an approved rental property or already be living on one to receive assistance.

Learn About Other Government Program Benefits That May Be Available

The end-goal of these comprehensive government assistance programs is to empower individuals and families to get back on their feet.

There’s no shame in needing assistance, and the team at FamilyNutritionInfo.com understands that it’s never easy for participants to admit they need help, but these government programs can make all the difference.

Some applicants may feel guilty participating in multiple government assistance programs, but keep in mind that these federal programs were specifically designed with criteria for those that really need it; if a candidate qualifies for multiple federal programs, he or she will most likely greatly benefit from the added assistance.

Becoming a recipient in these federal programs can mean forming a strong foundation for the life of a participant and his or her family, and can lead to participants finding economic independence and stability.

Learn About Receiving TANF Assistance

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a government program designed to provide temporary cash assistance to families in need. TANF is still commonly referred to as ‘welfare.’

States have broad flexibility when deciding how to carry out this program, which is why the team at FamilyNutritionInfo.com urges candidates to research specific TANF requirements according to the states in which they reside.

TANF recipients must either be pregnant or responsible for at least one child under 19 years of age. The applicant must be a U.S. national, a citizen, a permanent resident or a legal alien.

Applicants must also have very low income and be under-employed (working for low wages), unemployed or close to being unemployed. This program can offer childcare assistance, job training and work assistance.

Recipients can receive TANF benefits for a maximum of 60 months in their entire lifetimes.

Learn About Food Assistance With SNAP and WIC

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are two excellent options for those in need of food assistance.

The WIC food assistance program provides basic foods like eggs, milk and bread to ensure that mothers, infants and children are getting the nutrition needed to maintain healthy lifestyles.

The team at FamilyNutritionInfo.com found that SNAP offers a more comprehensive and flexible program. While the WIC program still distributes vouchers for food items for recipients to use, SNAP has implemented an EBT card that works exactly like a debit card.

The card has an allocated amount of money that can be spent per month. Both programs have different requirements, but those who qualify for both can receive benefits from SNAP and WIC.

Candidates who already qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or other assistance programs are most likely eligible for SNAP and/or WIC.

Learn How to Obtain SSI

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a component of the Social Security program that provides additional assistance to elderly, disabled or blind citizens. Candidates who are already receiving Social Security can still qualify for SSI.

Generally, people who qualify for SSI are adults over 65 years of age, blind adults or children who meet certain criteria and disabled adults or children who meet certain criteria.

In most states, SSI beneficiaries can also get medical assistance to pay for hospital stays, doctor bills, prescriptions and other health costs.

Learn About LIHEAP

Some Americans have a difficult time paying for certain utilities even if they can afford their rents.

This is especially true in exceptionally hot or cold areas of the U.S. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists families with home energy costs.

The program is able to offer residents assistance in several ways. Primarily, the program directly pays heating and cooling vendors for the cost of residents’ energy. The amount that the program pays is determined by applicants’ incomes.

In addition, certain tenants can receive emergency financial assistance if they are at risk of their utility shut off.

Eligibility varies by state. However, many residents who already receive other government assistance such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) usually qualify to receive energy assistance.

Moreover, applicants must have limited resources and assets to be accepted into the program.