Paying taxes in the United States provides access to a variety of government programs designed to help low-income families with housing. This guide provides information required to better understand subsidized housing solutions.
Who is in charge of government housing
Federal housing programs were created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with the purpose of providing qualified low-income households with financial assistance, and are administered by individual agencies at the federal, state and local level. In this guide, we offer an overview on all of these programs, as well as information on their unique benefits, conditions required to be eligible, how to apply, and more.
Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher
The Section 8’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) is the largest housing program of the federal government. The program provides assistance to very low-income families, senior citizens and disabled people so that they can afford decent and safe housing in the private market.
Under this program, qualified applicants are granted a housing voucher and allowed to search for housing among properties that meet the program’s requirements, not limited to those located within subsidized projects. Housing can include single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.
Public Housing Agencies (PHA) are in charge of administering the program locally on behalf of HUD. 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 local PHA based on the total annual gross income and size of the family.
Annual gross income may not exceed 50% of the median income of the area in which the household wants to live. Only US citizens and specified branches of non-citizens with eligible immigration status can apply for this program. If you are interested in applying for a Housing Choice Voucher, you can contact the local PHA.
Public housing programs in the United States provide apartment and homes for rent at affordable prices all across the country. Most of the rental arrangements for these properties are managed by the Public Housing Agencies (PHA), commonly known as the housing authorities, and which are funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). More than 3,300 housing authorities exist nationwide.
A program called the Total Tenant Payment (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 of between 0$ 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.
Low Income Tax Credit
The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is a special dollar-for-dollar tax credit available to for investments in affordable housing. Since its introduction under the broader Tax Reform Act of 1986, the LIHTC has been used to incentivise home builders to consider low-income tenants.
The program currently accounts for the vast majority of affordable rental housing available across the country today. What makes the LIHTC unique is that it’s offered to property owners instead of the tenants. The amount of subsidy will fluctuate based on the income of the families renting these units.
Project based section 8 rental assistance
The Project Based Section 8 Rental Assistance program is designed to provide low-income families with rental housing at affordable prices within privately-owned and managed rental properties. However, unlike the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), the subsidy is given to the properties instead, which means that families only enjoy the benefits of the program as long as they stay in these properties.
Most properties have a monthly rent equal to 30% of the family’s adjusted gross income, though through the Total Tenant Payment (TTP), they can instead request 10% of the monthly income or a minimum rent of 25$.
Low-income families that wish to participate in the program have to apply to the individual property they desire to rent, oftentimes through a waiting list that can be several months long. To qualify, the family must fall within the required income limit that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has set for the program.
Housing for Victims of Natural Disaster
Natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires are common across the United States. Many families have been left homeless after a natural disaster, and so the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has set up an agency called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to address these crises and offer solutions to the victims.
Families affected by natural disasters can receive support through the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP). This initiative was established in 2006 and provides survivors with a wide array of services including monetary assistance to repair their houses or rent a home. Interested parties can visit DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1 (800) 621-3362 for more information.
Housing for Immigrants
Many of the housing programs established by the federal government allow immigrants to take advantage of their benefits as long as several conditions are met. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allows mixed families composed of U.S. citizens and eligible immigrants to apply for the subsidies provided by their Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Project-Based Section 8 programs.
The Department of Agriculture (USDA), which funds low-income apartment communities in rural areas of the country, also allows immigrants to take advantage of the benefits of their programs. Though USDA initiatives require the head of the family to be either a citizen or a legal resident. Some programs use a prorated system to determine how much will be subsidized according to the number of eligible immigrants in the household.
Section 811 Housing for the Disabled
The Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities allows disabled people to enjoy good living standards by offering subsidized rental housing opportunities coupled with access to the supportive services they need to stay comfortable and healthy.
The program works in several ways. It provides interest-free capital advances, subsidizes developers who build non-profit affordable housing communities and offers project rental assistance to state housing agencies across the country.
To be eligible, interested parties must have a physical disability, developmental disability or chronic mental illness. Families that apply to the program must have at least one family member with a disability.
In both cases, the household must have an income within 50% of the median income of the area to apply for homes funded through capital advances and supported by project rental assistance contracts (PRAC), or within 30% of the median income of the area to apply for homes funded with Project Rental Assistance. Those interested in the program must submit an application in response to a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).