The COVID-19 pandemic has put many people into a low-income position that they’ve never been in before. As a result, an increasing number of people want to know how to apply for affordable housing. If you already having a rental house, then you might be able to take advantage of pandemic rent moratoriums. However, if you don’t have housing, or you’re ready to move, then it’s a great time to figure out if you qualify for affordable rental housing.
First, Check For COVID-19 Help
If you feel the need to apply for affordable housing because of how COVID-19 has impacted you, you’re not alone. But first, see if you have other options. If you like where you live, then you might be able to work out a deal with your landlord to stay where you are. There are eviction moratoriums, pandemic unemployment assistance, and other programs to consider. Weigh all of your options.
How to Apply for Affordable Housing
That said, there’s nothing wrong with trying to apply for affordable housing. In fact, it can be a very smart move. There are three common options available, which are beautifully outlined in this infographic. As you can see, you generally can apply for:
- Section 8 (Housing Choice) Vouchers. You find the home that you want to rent. The vouchers help cover the cost of that rent.
- Public Housing. You apply for affordable housing (apartments, condos, or rental homes) that are listed through the Public Housing Agency.
- Privately-Owned Subsidized Housing. You apply at a rental agency that has a certain number of apartments or housing units available for low-income affordable housing.
Requirements for Affordable Housing
When you apply, you’ll have to fill out forms answering questions that show you meet the minimum requirements for affordable housing. Those requirements include:
- Low-income status, based on income limits that are unique to your area. (In other words, what qualifies as “low-income” in San Francisco is different than what qualifies when you apply for affordable housing in Atlanta.)
- Citizenship status; affordable housing is available for US citizens as well as some eligible non-citizens. Note that non-citizens can apply for privately-owned subsidized housing but not the other two programs.
- Family status; affordable housing is available to families, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities. Note that low-income individuals can apply for privately-owned subsidized housing but not the other two programs.
- Tenancy history; in some cases the Public Housing Agency will review references from past landlords to assess whether or not to accept you into the program
If you believe that you might meet the requirements, then you should try to apply for affordable housing.
If you want to apply for privately-owned subsidized housing (for example, if you are a single individual) then you will look for an apartment building that offers that option and apply directly with them using their unique application process.
On the other hand, if you want to apply for affordable housing through one of the other two options, here’s what you do:
- Contact your state’s Public Housing Agency. (You can also contact HUD, but they will usually re-route you to the Public Housing Agency.)
- Fill out the required application for your state agency.
- Typically, a case manager will then call you to verify the information in your application. They will then check with places like your bank and employer to verify the information you have provided.
- If you are applying for Section 8 then, once approved, you will need to find the home you wish to rent. Your case manager will check out the house, make sure it meets basic health and safety standards, and complete your application.
- Then you can sign a lease.
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