How to Apply for Low-Income Housing

Families, senior citizens and persons with disability can apply for low-income or affordable housing, apartments or houses which rents are reduced through government funds and incentives. The rental cost is less than 30 percent of the tenant’s household income. Only eligible individuals or families can apply for low-income housing.

What is the basis for eligibility?

The basis to determine rent restrictions and income eligibility is the Area Median Income or AMI. Rents and requirements for eligibility are set so that a household income with lower percentage of the metric is qualified for homes with cheaper rentals. The following is how the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines AMI Bands:

  • Extremely Low Income – Income at or below 30 percent of AMI
  • Very Low Income – between 31 and 50 percent of AMI
  • Low Income – ranges from 51 to 80 percent of AMI
  • Moderate Income – between 81 and 120% of AMI

The phrase “affordable at 30 percent of AMI” means that the house is affordable to Extremely Low-Income households that earn at or below 30 percent of AMI.

Government Housing Programs

There are government programs that may help low-income families that need affordable rental housing. The programs are run locally by public housing agencies that use federal funds to coordinate with building owners to subsidize rent to those who are qualified.

The government gives property owners money for low-rent apartments. Anyone can apply at the property’s office if they are:

  • Within the income limit with regards to family size and location
  • Meet the property owner’s other requirements.

Here are the different government programs for low-income housing:

  • Low Income Housing Tax Credit or LIHTC – offers apartments similar to what is found in the market but with lower-than-market amenities and rent. Housing providers under this program are mandated to reduce rental fees for tenants with low and moderate income. Housing created under this program are required to be affordable for 15 years.
  • Project Based Section 8 – rehabilitates or creates housing that are income-based, hence, is often referred as income-based housing. This program targets extremely low, very low and low-income households that will pay the rent based on their income. Most rentals in this program are at 30 percent of the tenant’s income. At times, the minimum rent is set up to $50.
  • Public Housing Apartment Communities – provides locally managed housing to seniors, persons with disabilities and low-income households through federal funds. Qualified tenants pay not more than 30 percent of their adjusted monthly earnings. Minimum rent could be set by Public Housing Authorities as $25 to $50.
  • Rural Development Section 515 – provides affordable housing in rural areas. The USDA Rural Rental Housing Program creates loans to create affordable housing in rural areas to serve the population that face issues like overcrowding, disparity of income and housing costs and maintenance deficiencies. Section 521 of USDA may be used so that rental assistance for rental assistance are given to units for tenants with very low income. The rental fees for units under Section 521 Rental Assistance are not more than 30 percent of the monthly adjusted income of eligible residents.
  • Section 811 – reserves housing for persons with disabilities and their families and in some cases, live-in caretakers. It sets rental fees at 30 percent of the tenant’s income.

Those who want to apply can contact their local Public Housing Agency, fill up an application form and provide the required documents.