Many people seek income based housing with rent and housing costs so high, and the COVID pandemic has made this need more urgent. This article will provide information on how to find the affordable housing you need, determine if you qualify, show you how to get on a waitlist, and review what to do if you can’t get housing assistance in your area.
How to Start Income Based Housing Search
You can begin your search for income based housing in your area with the Essential Community Services Hotline; simply contact them by dialing 211. Here you get information about health, human, and social service organizations in your area that can help you with housing. By dialing 211 you can also get information about shelters, paying utility bills, food banks, and other free or low cost support services available to you.
Income Based Housing Begins With HUD
Another place to start searching for income based housing is with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. HUD sets the rules for who qualifies for income based housing, and they have information to direct you to your state and local Public Housing Authority. Your local Public Housing Authority will determine if you qualify and direct you to listings of housing options available in your area.
What are HUD’s General Criteria for Income Based Housing?
- The Annual Income of Your Household.
- You might qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family.
- Your U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status.
- Your local Public Housing Authority will also require references to make sure you will be good tenants.
How Can Someone Contact HUD?
You can contact HUD by calling their Public Housing Customer Service Center free at 1-800-955-2232, 9am-5pm EST. You can also go to the HUD Website On Public Housing which has links to all their Regional Offices and information for every state and local Public Housing Authority, which you will need to contact to determine if you qualify for public housing.
Income Based Housing And Your Public Housing Authority
Your local Public Housing Authority will be the agency to determine if you qualify for income based housing in your area. They list housing that is available and they keep updated waitlists for getting into public housing. You can get the number for your local Public Housing Authority at the Essential Community Services Hotline at 211 or by calling the HUD Public Housing Customer Service Center at 1-800-955-2322. HUD also has a national listing of Housing Authorities by state, city and region. You can access it online at Public Housing Authority Contact List
Do I Qualify For Income Based Housing?
Whether you qualify for income based housing is based on your total gross income, or the gross income of your household, who is living in the home, and where you are living. HUD sets the income limit to qualify for public housing, and your local Housing Authority determines if you qualify and how much free or low income housing you get.
How is my income used to determine qualifying for housing?
- You will need to provide documentation to the Public Housing Authority in your area to determine if you or your family qualify for income based housing. This includes birth certificates, tax returns, and verification from your employer. You should have this information for all the household members.
- You will need to sign a form to release pertinent information to the Public Housing Authority.
- If you qualify for income based housing you will be put in a category such as low income, very low income or extremely low income.
- The category that you and your family are in will determine if your rent is free or what percentage your rent is reduced.
Can You Be Disqualified From Income Based Housing?
Unfortunately, there are some situations that can cause you to be disqualified.
Disqualifications From Federal Income Based Housing
There are two things that automatically disqualify someone from Federally funded income based housing.
- If you have a lifetime registration on the sex offender list.
- If you have been convicted of the manufacture or production of methamphetamine (meth) in federally assisted housing.
- These two disqualifications would apply to any member of your household and disqualify your whole family.
- You may be disqualified for other reasons, but # 1 and #2 on this list automatically disqualify you and any one who would live with you from income based housing.
Disqualifications From State Income Based Housing
Each State has their own things that may disqualify you from income based housing. It is important to contact your local Public Housing Authority to determine what they are. Below is a list of things that may disqualify someone from income based housing. Always check with your local Housing Authority before applying.
- If you have been convicted of certain violent crimes, certain types of fraud, drug trafficking.
- If you, or a member of your household, has a history of drug abuse.
- If there is a personal or family history of poor relationships with your neighbors in your previous living arrangements- such as fighting, bullying, verbal assaults or disturbances of the peace.
- If there has been a history of failure to pay your rent. It is important to note that if you have always paid at least 50% of your rent, but have had financial difficulties, this cannot be held against you.
It is important to remember that you have rights, and only the first two items listed at the top of Section 5 automatically disqualify you from income based housing based on Federal Guidelines. Check with your local Public Housing Authority for the best information.
What Is An Income Based Housing Waiting List?
There is a high demand for income based housing all over the United States. This has always been the case, and it’s more true now with the public health crisis of COVID and people unable to pay their rent. Since there are more applicants than there are income based housing units, there is a waiting list.
How Long Is the Wait For Income Based Housing Waiting List?
If you qualify for income based housing, once you have completed the application it is important to note that there are some major things that impact the length of time you will spend on the waiting list:
- What state you are in, and how many income based housing units are available in your city or county.
- If you have all of your paperwork completed and filled out properly with your Public Housing Authority.
- Your Public Housing Authority is required to maintain, update, and advertise the waiting list. If you have questions or concerns go directly to your local Public Housing Authority to get more information. You can contact any of the numbers listed in this article.
What Things Shorten Wait Time for Income Based Housing?
You and your family may move more quickly up the waiting list for income based housing if you are dealing with something like what is listed below:
- Your family is homeless or living in a substandard housing.
- You are paying more than 50% of your income to rent.
- Your family is involuntarily displaced.
- Check with your Public Housing Authority to determine if you meet criteria that they have for placing some applicants ahead of others.
Access Affordable Housing Through Other Programs
There may be other programs in your community that can help you get referred for income based housing or help you meet your needs for affordable housing. If you contact the 211 Essential Services Community Hotline they have lists of legal aid services, community churches, and other groups like state housing alliances that can help. You can reach out to the Salvation Army in your area by calling free at 1-800-728-7825 to find out about assistance with housing and other needs.
Can’t Get Income Based Housing, What Are My Options?
If you do not qualify for income based housing there are other programs that you may qualify for to assist you with paying your rent or housing needs. Rental Assistance is available through HUD during the COVID pandemic to help people with housing needs. Call free at 877-542-9273 to speak with a housing counselor and find out if you qualify.
Also there is financial assistance available to pay for housing, food, and other bills at this U.S. Disaster Financial Assistance website.
For income based housing start with your local Public Housing Authority and HUD, there are free and low cost services out there in your search for income based and affordable housing. If you do not qualify for income based housing, do not give up, call 1-800-955-2232 to find out about other services that may meet your housing needs including rental assistance, reporting housing discrimination, getting a housing counselor and finding COVID related assistance you might qualify for.