If you require housing help, it is crucial that you seek out all of the resources and assistance programs that may be available to you as funding may be limited due to the increasing demand for rental assistance. By being proactive about the government housing assistance programs and local outreach resources that may be available to you, the likelihood that you will receive the help you need will be drastically increased.
If you require emergency housing assistance and you are at risk of losing your current housing, there are several agencies that may be able to put you in touch with local community programs and resources that may be able to aid you in a crisis. Like most rental assistant programs, these resources are generally only available to low-income households. However, households may need to meet additional qualifications.
1. Learn About Section 8 Housing
Section 8 housing, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is a government assistance program that provides rental assistance to qualifying low-income families, disabled persons and senior citizens.
To ensure that the neediest of households continue to have access to safe, sanitary and decent housing, the Section 8 program provides monetary benefits directly to landlords to reduce a benefiting household’s rental obligations each month. Therefore, the benefiting family is only responsible for the difference between rental costs and Section 8 benefits.
To qualify for benefits, a household must meet eligibility requirements related to:
- Family or household composition.
- Income guidelines that are based upon the median income for an area.
- U.S. citizenship or immigration status qualifications.
- Other local factors.
You can apply for this government housing assistance program by contacting your local Public Housing Agency (PHA). If approved for benefits, you may be placed on a waiting list until funds become available, unless assistance is available immediately.
2. Find Out About the Public Housing Program
You may qualify for housing assistance through the Public Housing Program, which is designed to provide affordable housing opportunities to low-income families, seniors and disabled individuals. While similar to the Housing Choice Voucher Program, this program offers qualifying households with affordable housing at a rental cost that is far lower than surrounding properties.
Like Section 8, you must meet specific eligibility requirements to receive benefits. Qualifications are related to:
- Household income.
- Household or family composition.
- Local factors.
- U.S. citizenship or immigration status requirements.
While the Public Housing Program has income guidelines, these guidelines allow for a higher amount of income in comparison to the Section 8 program.
To apply for benefits, you must contact your local PHA. Similarly to the Housing Choice Voucher Program, you may be placed on a waiting list, unless housing is available immediately.
3. About Local Emergency Housing Assistance Programs
Emergency housing assistance opportunities can help you remain in your current home and avoid evictions due to nonpayment. However, the opportunities and resources that may be available to you will depend on your local community.
It is common for communities to have several outreach programs, including those through local organizations, nonprofits and church communities. In addition to rental assistance, many of these programs can provide other necessities, such as food or sanitary items.
You can learn about assistant programs within your local community by contacting your local:
Additionally, it is worth taking the time to contact your local food bank to obtain referrals to any additional resources that may be available to you.
4. How to Get Housing Help with Utility Costs
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) offers housing help towards the cost of utilities and minor weatherization projects. Therefore, this program is crucial in avoiding utility shut-offs due to nonpayment. Overall, LIHEAP helps reduce monthly utility costs, thus reducing a household’s monthly expenses.
LIHEAP eligibility requirements vary by state, but you must be considered low-income to qualify for monetary benefits or weatherization assistance. Generally, benefits are only available during certain times of the year until funding has been exhausted. It is estimated that only 20 percent of all eligible households receive assistance from LIHEAP. Therefore, it is essential that you apply for assistance as soon as possible to receive the help you need.