Year after year, the cost of living in the United States has been on the rise. However, your salary may not have increased enough to keep up. Otherwise, you may be struggling with unemployment. When your total household income is low, it is difficult to afford basic necessities, and one of the most common everyday necessities is affording a home. If your budget is already low, renting a home or apartment is often cheaper than buying a property.
Regardless of whether or not you are struggling financially, every resident needs a place to live. That is why many types of rental assistance programs have been set up to help low-income residents. For instance, some of these programs are operated by federal organizations such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Other initiatives are operated by states or local agencies. The following descriptions of renting assistance programs can help you identify the rental aid resources that are most likely to assist you properly.
Short-Term Versus Long-Term Renting Assistance
Before applying for rent assistance, you must determine the general type of aid you need. Short-term and long-term renting assistance programs are available in every state. In general, long-term renting assistance programs offer the opportunity to rent low-income housing for a year or more. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, better known as Section 8, is an example of a long-term renting assistance program.
Alternatively, short-term renting assistance is designed to potentially help you in two ways. One reason to apply for it is to obtain assistance while you recover from a short period of financial instability. You may need help after a member of your household unexpectedly loses a job. Most forms of short-term rental assistance only last for a few months.
Another use for short-term rental assistance is when long-term help is not immediately available. Limited amounts of long-term low-income rental housing are available in each state. Consequently, applicants are often put in waiting lists. If you cannot be placed on a waiting list or expect to be waiting for a significant amount of time, short-term rentals can help you live comfortably at least temporarily.
Tenant-Based and Project-Based Renting Assistance
When seeking renting assistance, you must understand the difference between tenant-based and project-based rental programs. A tenant-based program is ideal if you may want to move at some point in the future. Such a program issues rental vouchers to you or on your behalf. Then, you can use the funds provided by the voucher to pay a portion of your rent at a participating location. This means that you can opt to move at any point if your new landlord participates in the program. Section 8 is one of the most well-known nationwide forms of tenant-based housing assistance. However, because Section 8 and similar programs are very popular, you may deal with:
Alternatively, project-based renting assistance is much less flexible. If you qualify for it, you must live in a designated housing complex or on a particular property. This type of assistance will stay with the property when you leave. Thus, you must reapply at a new property if you need assistance at your new destination and it is a participating location. This includes a location participating in a state, local or federal project-based assistance program. Additionally, you cannot qualify to live in certain project-based assistance properties because some of them are designated for certain groups, including:
Rural Renting Assistance
Various forms of rental assistance are designed to help you if you live in heavily populated urban areas. However, certain forms of rural renting assistance are available to help you specifically if you live in a rural area. These different types of assistance may be operated by federal and state agencies or private organizations. One such program, called the Rural Rental Housing (RRH) program, provides rental housing if you opt to live in specific rental housing projects in rural areas. You may apply for RRH assistance directly through the housing project manager at the location of your choice.
More than 250,000 rural housing units are subsidized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nationwide. If you qualify for such housing, the USDA will provide you with assistance through vouchers. While these USDA vouches will cover a significant portion of your rental costs, the exact amount depends on factors such as your household income. In any qualifying case, you must pay no more than 30 percent of your household rental costs out of pocket.
Additional State or Local Renting Assistance Options
Many forms of renting assistance are not offered through the federal government, as some are offered by state agencies. Furthermore, certain assistance programs are offered by non-profit organizations. In any case, you may qualify for immediate assistance programs in the event that you are in imminent danger of being evicted from your home. A state agency or non-profit organization offer such programs as a safety net to prevent homelessness.
Another form of state or private rental assistance for which you may qualify is a one-time monetary rental assistance payment. Such payments can help you rent a home by providing the initial funds you need. If you have enough money to pay monthly rent but do not have the funds to pay a security deposit or multiple months of rent upfront, this type of aid will offer you the coverage you need. This one-time assistance program acts as a springboard to help you better assist yourself in the long run.
You can receive secondary renting assistance from state and local agencies. Certain agencies even offer free counseling services to help you learn how to financially manage a household. Simple tips learned through those services help you save more money and make you better able to afford the cost of rent. Furthermore, Social Services and Housing Authority offices in your state offer additional resources that help you find and afford low-cost housing.