4 Federal Programs That Will Pay Your Rent
As housing prices rise, many families are forced to seek financial assistance to cover rent payments. To address this growing issue, the federal government operates several housing grant programs that provide funding to families who need it most. This includes low income households, senior citizens and people with disabilities.
There are several housing grant programs people can choose from depending on their circumstances. Low income families who want to rent a property can apply for the Housing Voucher Program. Victims of sexual abuse or other federal crimes can receive money to cover all expenses, not only rent and utility bills. In this article, we explain how some of these programs operate and how to submit an application.
What is a housing grant?
Housing grants are a form of financial assistance that the federal government gives to families who cannot afford to purchase a home or rent a property on their own. Unlike mortgage loans, housing grants need not be repaid, and the money is often given directly to the landlord. There are several different housing grant programs, each available according to the circumstances of each particular household.
Housing grants are usually awarded based on income. In general, the annual gross income of a family must be well below the Federal Poverty Line, or FPL, to qualify for a housing grant. However, if a family includes one or more senior citizens, or a person with a disability, the income requirements may be relaxed. In some cases, households will be required to enroll in other federal programs too while receiving housing funds.
Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher
The Section 8’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) is the largest housing program of the federal government. It provides financial assistance to very low-income families, senior citizens and disabled people so that they can rent an affordable house in the private market. Under this program, eligible families are granted a housing voucher, which can be used to search for properties. Unlike other housing programs, families with a housing voucher can search for properties that do not belong to a subsidized project. They can either choose a single-family home, a townhouse or an apartment.
The Housing Choice Voucher program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and managed by local Public Housing Agencies (PHA). Under the HCV program, landlords are paid the housing subsidy directly by the agencies, while participating families are only required to pay the difference between the subsidy and the actual rent.
Eligibility to this program is determined by the Public Housing Agency, and is based on the total annual gross income and size of the family. In general, annual gross income should not exceed 50 percent of the median income of the area in which the household wants to live. For example, if the median income of a three-member family is $33,000, housing voucher candidates must earn below $16,500 to qualify. However, some local PHA offices are given broad authority to extend or restrict eligibility. This is because, in general, HCV recipients are not meant to pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent. Only US citizens and legal residents can apply for this program.
To apply for a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, families must first visit a local PHA office and request information about local income requirements. Eligible families must then submit a Section 8 application form requesting the voucher. In areas with high demand, PHA offices often manage waiting lists were new applications are placed until housing units become available. Families must wait until they are approved to start looking for housing that meets the requirements. HCV recipients must also make sure that the landlord accepts housing vouchers, otherwise the benefit will not be applied.
Total Tenant Payment
A program called Total Tenant Payment, or TTP, allows low-income participants to choose one out of three different methods to handle their monthly rent payments. They can pay 10% of their monthly income, 30% of their monthly adjusted income or a minimum rent amount between zero and $50 determined by their local PHA. However, they are mandated to live within the specific community they applied to be a part of, as well as to participate in community service.
Housing for Victims of Natural Disasters
Natural disasters are common across the country. Hurricanes and wildfires, for example, have forced many low income families into homelessness. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide assistance and offer solutions to the victims.
Families affected by natural disasters can receive money to cover their housing expenses through the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP). This initiative was established in 2006 and offers disaster survivors financial assistance to repair their house or rent a home.
Transitional Housing Grant Program
The Transitional Housing Grant Program was created by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to help victims of stalking, sexual assault or domestic violence. Through the program, eligible individuals are awarded a sum of money to help them get back on their feet. This usually includes a full subsidy of rent and utility bills, as well as other living expenses. In some cases, the grant will also cover any legal expenses when necessary.
To apply for a Transitional Housing Grant Program, victims of stalking, sexual assault or domestic violence must visit their local Office for Violence Against Women (OVAW) or Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). There, they must provide paperwork that confirms their eligibility to the program before they can receive any benefits. Eligibility is determined by analyzing whether the applicant meets the definition of victim of a federal crime or elderly abuse. In some cases, local agencies are given additional authority to award benefits to victims who do not qualify under such definitions.