Rental Assistance Programs You Need To Know

Kelly Cooke
Published Jan 12, 2024


According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, few people working a full-time minimum wage job can afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Therefore, many turn to rental assistance programs that help pay the rent and find affordable housing. Here are some of the most popular rental assistance programs:

1. Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program


The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program began in 1986 to encourage private developers to build affordable housing. The program provides tax credits used to offset the cost of construction and rehabilitation. Applicants must meet certain criteria, including providing a certain percentage of units for low-income families to qualify for the credit. The program has successfully created millions of units of affordable housing nationwide. It remains one of the most important tools for increasing the supply of affordable housing.

2. Public Housing Program


Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees the Public Housing Program, which provides safe and affordable housing for low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities. More than 1.2 million people live in public housing units across the United States. HUD provides funding to public housing agencies (PHAs) that manage and operate public housing units. PHAs use this funding to provide decent and safe housing, maintain buildings and grounds, and provide essential services to residents.

3. Project-Based Section 8 Program


The federally funded housing assistance program provides subsidies to private homeowners on behalf of low-income tenants. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers the program, and participating property owners agree to provide a certain number of units at below-market rates.

Tenants who qualify for the program pay 30% of their monthly income towards rent, with the government subsidizing the remainder. To participate in the program, property owners must submit an application to HUD and go through a screening process. Once approved, they will enter into a contract with HUD that outlines their obligations under the program.

4. Housing Choice Voucher Program


The Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, provides housing assistance to low-income families. Families who participate in the program receive a voucher for renting a qualified unit from a participating property owner. The voucher covers a portion of the rent, and the family is responsible for paying the remainder. However, families must meet income guidelines set by HUD to qualify for affordable, safe, and decent housing. For many families, the Housing Choice Voucher Program is a vital source of assistance that helps maintain stable housing.

5. Rural Housing Service Programs


The USDA's Rural Housing Service (RHS) offers various programs to help rural homeowners and renters. Some include loans, grants, and loan guarantees to help low- and moderate-income rural residents build, repair, or buy homes. The Multi-Family Housing Programs provide loans and grants to develop and preserve affordable rental housing for low- and moderate-income rural residents.

On the other hand, the Community Facilities Program provides loans and grants to help rural communities build or improve essential public facilities, including schools, libraries, healthcare facilities, public safety buildings, and childcare centers. In addition, the Housing Preservation Grants Program provides grants to help low-income families make necessary repairs to their homes. Through these programs, the RHS continues to improve the quality of life for rural Americans.

6. HOME Investment Partnerships Program


The federally funded HOME Investment Partnerships Program provides grants to states and localities to create affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income families. The program began in 1990, and its primary goal is to increase homeownership rates among low- and moderate-income households.

It provides financing for the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing units and down payment and closing cost assistance for eligible homebuyers. In addition, the HOME program also funds home improvement and repair activities, making it possible for more families to maintain their homes in a safe and healthy condition. Millions of American families have realized the dream of homeownership through the program.

7. Housing Trust Fund


The Housing Trust Fund began in the 1980s to help provide affordable housing options for low- and moderate-income families. HUD administers the program that provides grants to states and localities to build, rehabilitate, and preserve affordable housing. The fund has funded new developments, including senior citizen housing, and assists families struggling to pay their rent or keep their homes. For example, the fund supported families affected by Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and other natural disasters.

Discovering the right rental assistance program can be a daunting task, but finding the perfect fit is worth it. With the few options outlined above, it's important to research and ask around to find the best one for you. Talk to your friends, family, and neighbors to see if they have any recommendations. Once you find the best program, follow the application process carefully, and provide all the required documentation. You can find the rental assistance you need to get back on your feet with a little effort.


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