Housing is one of the most basic needs that you may have. It is difficult, if not impossible, to survive without a solid roof over your head. If you also have a spouse and children to support, finding safe, affordable housing is even more vital. However, the cost of living today is quite high. If your family income level is low, finding safe and affordable housing can seem like a daunting task. Moreover, homeownership is often a goal that you cannot accomplish without some sort of help. Fortunately, there are a few housing assistance options available.
There are various ways to obtain safe and affordable housing, even when your finances are not sufficient for you to pay for a home by yourself. To get the help you need, you may apply for some form of housing assistance. Housing assistance programs are diverse in their origins and purposes. You must select the program appropriate for your location, personal circumstances and goals. The following information can help you determine when to seek housing assistance and which type of housing assistance you can attempt to obtain.
When Housing Assistance is Necessary
There is no exact point when housing assistance is necessary. However, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides certain guidelines. For example, if you spend over 30 percent of your household income on housing costs, you are considered financially burdened. According to HUD, millions of households spend over 50 percent of the household income on mortgage, rental or other housing-related costs. If your household is within that group, it is likely that you can benefit from some form of housing assistance.
Ultimately, it is up to you and your family to decide if you want to apply for housing assistance. A small amount of temporary assistance may help you to improve your financial situation while living in a safe, comfortable home. When determining your need for housing aid, you must also consider how many working adults live in your household. If there is only one source of income, renting a home without assistance may seem daunting or even impossible. Furthermore, buying a home may be out of the question. As a general rule, the ability to afford housing itself is not the only factor taken into consideration. For instance, you must also weigh the other costs of maintaining your household, such as utilities and food. To learn more about these various types of housing assistance, read the sections below.
Types of Housing Assistance
When seeking housing assistance, the first decision you must make is what type of assistance you will require. One type of housing assistance is called rental assistance, which helps your family rent an affordable home or apartment. Several types of rental assistance are administered at the federal level by the HUD. However, certain HUD programs, such as the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), are administered by the Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) in your local community or county.
Several housing assistance programs exist to help you keep your home when foreclosure is imminent. For example, you may have difficulty making your current mortgage payments on time. In those instances, housing counseling and other programs offer the aid you may need. In general, federal, state and independent programs can help you find ways to reduce your mortgage payments on a temporary or permanent basis. Among those options are refinancing and other forms of mortgage settlements.
A third type of housing assistance helps you buy a home. Purchasing is often preferable to rental because it allows you to have something to show for your monetary investment. Homebuying assistance programs consist primarily of housing loans and grants that are particularly designed to provide you with discounted housing. Take advantage of special homebuyer assistance programs for which you may qualify. Such programs offer homeownership discounts for specific groups. Consequently, if you are a member of one of those groups, you can potentially get a home at a reduced rate. These groups include:
Federal Housing Assistance Through HUD
One of the primary sources of federal assistance for housing services is the HUD. However, many of the types of assistance that are offered by the HUD are funneled into community programs. For example, the HOME Investments Partnerships Program operated by the HUD helps states provide low-income housing for their residents. Funds from HOME also help states purchase, refurbish or build affordable housing for low-income residents seeking housing assistance. The HUD is also a resource for multiple types of information relating to housing assistance. Some of its many other programs address housing assistance for:
Federal Housing Assistance Through the USDA
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) can potentially provide you with housing assistance. To qualify for this assistance, you must reside in a rural area. One USDA program you may qualify for provides single-family housing direct home loans. Alternatively, you may qualify for monetary assistance from the USDA to help you pay for a residence in a housing complex. More often than not, these housing units are available to rent when you are elderly or disabled. You may also qualify for similar monetary assistance from the USDA to rent properties if you are classified as a low-income household.
Federal Housing Assistance Through the VA
Some forms of federal housing assistance are only available to you if you are a member of a particular demographic. One example is housing assistance if you are a military veteran. Veteran housing assistance is provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and includes monetary assistance to help you purchase a home. If you qualify, obtain funds from the VA to help you repair or adapt your home.
State and Local Housing Assistance Options
Not all housing assistance programs are administered by or originate at the federal level. Your state has housing organizations offering additional housing assistance programs. These programs range from counseling services to monetary assistance. They also offer rental and home purchasing aid. To figure out what programs are available, contact the housing agency in your municipality. You can also contact other local agencies, such as non-profit businesses, offering housing assistance.