Updated: Jan 2
Whether you’ve fallen on hard times or considered part of a low-income bracket, the ability to afford your rent every month means security and a roof over your head. Low-Income housing is one of the best options when you need an apartment to rent and that you can afford.
To help you learn whether you can benefit from low-income housing, we take a look at what low-income housing is, what you should be earning to qualify, and how to get approved. We explore everything you should know about low-income housing, so you can make valuable and informed decisions for your loved ones and your financial future.
What Exactly is Low-Income Housing?
Low-Income housing is actually determined by a government standard. If you can afford 30% of your income on rent, you could qualify for low-income housing. According to the government housing standard, spending 30% of your paycheck on rent can place your remaining finances under strain. To avoid unmanageable debts and burdened finances, a home you can afford with all the comforts and the security can be found with qualifying low-income apartments.
I know that looking for affordable or low-income housing can be overwhelming and confusing. You may be fearful of what to expect, whether you qualify, and if you’ll feel safe and happy in your new place. My goal is to help you along your housing journey by answering some of the most pressing low-income housing questions below.
Types of Low-Income Housing
Many are confused by “low-income housing.” This includes a perception that it is only government-funded or Section 8. Unfortunately, this can lead to a missed opportunity to afford a rental without financial assistance. To determine which housing options are available to you, we distinguish between 3 prominent types of low-income housing categories:
The Section 8 program subsidizes low-income families with the government issue of a “housing voucher” to make up the difference in affordability for rent. These vouchers can only be used for properties that qualify as Section 8 housing.
A local housing company or authority governs public housing for low-income families. Qualifying criteria and rent are based on what applicants can afford.
Affordable housing is available for low to median-income families. In such instances, you must show that you can afford the monthly rent and that it does not exceed 30% of your monthly income. Rent does not include a subsidy and you are responsible for the payment of rent.
What is a Low-Income?
A low-income bracket is considered earnings of less than $40 000 compared to the upper- income bracket of $119 000 and upwards, after-tax. Median income families fall somewhere in between the high and low-income bracket. Depending on your general expenses, both low and median-income households may qualify for low-income housing.
A simple way to learn of the qualifying criteria for low-income housing is to visit our Housing Application & FAQ page. Here you will find a complete list of resources that breakdown just what you need to do to apply and to qualify for your next rental.
Do I Fall into a Low-Income Bracket?
Changing economies and the unexpected devastation of COVID-19 have thwarted our plans for major savings, purchasing a home, or even renting that 3 bedroom apartment you’ve had your sights set on for some time. No matter the reason, if you earn a wage that is considered low-income, you can still afford an apartment, you just need to know where to look and how to qualify.
To understand whether you qualify as low-income requires a closer look at your state law. In New York City, a family of 4 earning a combined income of $86 000 would qualify as affordable housing compared to the same household in Chicago earning around $72 000.
Consider checking in with the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) authority to learn of low-income limits per state. These change on an annual basis so keep up to date of these terms.
What Will I Be Paying for Rent?
An important part of low-income housing is whether you can afford the rent each month. By understanding what you will be paying, you can best manage your expenses including any outstanding debts you’re currently paying off.
If we go back to the example of the 30% housing rule, you can determine whether the cost of future rent constitutes 30% or more of your earnings. If so, you may apply for section-8 assisted housing. The amount of rent you will pay will differ based on the apartment community, the number of bedrooms, and the overall size of the apartment.
If we look at the rental costs for a low-income family of 3, the average rent is $500 - $540 per month.
For landlords, a calculation of the average income per applicant and overall affordability can influence the monthly rent.
How Do I Know if I Qualify for Affordable Housing?
You can determine whether you qualify for low-income housing by contacting your public housing or Section 8 authorities. Whether you contact your local housing authority or an affordable housing landlord, you must provide proof of income. This can include a pay stub, an IRS tax certificate, or an invoice.
Remember that every applicant will be subject to a background check. This includes eviction history, credit reports, and any criminal records. Only US citizens can apply for affordable housing programs.
How Do I Apply for Low-Income Housing?
Simply work out what your gross salary is per month. Then take your pressing living expenses off. The percentage of income remaining is the portion you can contribute to your monthly rent. Before you apply, you can determine whether you qualify for low-income or affordable apartments.
The next step of the application process is to contact the landlord or your housing authority and to learn of the application criteria. Common requirements include proof of income (including bank statements), proof of employment, and a credit check.
You can also learn how to improve your chances for a rental by checking out our apartment approval guide. We breakdown the steps you can take to improve the acceptance of your apartment application.
How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for Low-Income Housing?
Affordable housing applications work in the same way as a regular property rental application. You will send your documents to the landlord or property manager concerning the available rental within 24 to 72 hours, you should receive a response for the lease approval.
When applying for Section 8 housing, the process works a little differently. You will apply to a housing authority governing Section 8 applications and be placed on a waiting list. Depending on your earnings and the costs for rent, you will receive a voucher you can use towards monthly rentals. The HUD offers subsidized rent for low-income veterans and seniors. If you fall into these applicant categories, consult with the HUD to learn more about these options available to you.
Can I Use a Housing Voucher in My Apartment/Rental Application?
Only if you are a qualifying Section 8 applicant will you be able to use a government-issued voucher towards rent. The housing voucher only pays the difference between what an applicant can afford and the actual rent amount.
Do All Low-Income Housing Applications Have Eligibility Criteria?
Income qualifications will vary depending upon the type of property you are interested in.
Yes, every low-income housing application will have a set of qualifying criteria. The first is whether your income permits you to rent an affordable apartment. Additional factors including credit history are determined by the landlord or agency.
Second chance apartments offer the benefits of both affordability and consideration of tenants with a less than desirable credit or eviction history.
What is HUD Housing?
The HUD issues federal housing to a housing agency. These housing agencies will then determine which residents qualify for the rent according to low-income criteria. The role of the HUD is to oversee the development and management of these properties.
How Do I Qualify for HUD Housing?
Hud housing differs from affordable housing applications. If you are considered below the low-income bracket, then HUD Housing may be an applicable option for your rental needs. Families who qualify for the HUD rental will earn below the 30% affordability requirement. When you apply to the HUD, specific eligibility criteria will be considered including your annual income before tax.
Can I Use My Social Security as Low-Income for Housing?
Low-Income housing such as Section 8 will issue vouchers to qualifying applicants. These vouchers will cover the difference between the rent and what you can afford.
If you are looking to qualify for state housing, the housing authority will use your gross income to calculate the monthly rent. Federal housing will use the annual income as qualifying criteria.
For state or public housing, if you receive funds from the SSI, this could be considered part of your income. It will not be considered a part of income for federal housing.
Where Do I Find Low-Income Housing?
If you are interested in applying for a low-income rental, you can find apartments with second chance communities and the local housing agency. You can also contact the HUD to determine whether there are qualifying properties in your location.
Apartments Near Me provides affordable and quality housing services for applicants in Memphis. Simply contact us for more information.
What are the Benefits of Low-Income Housing for Families?
If you are still apprehensive about what low-income housing can do for you, let me breakdown the benefits it offers for your financial and living needs.
Affordable housing offers all the features and the comforts you will find with regularly priced apartments. The difference is the ability to afford the rent. Not only can you proudly rent an apartment for yourself or your family, but you can also work on your finances. By managing your rent and preventing constrained finances, you can save for your present and your future.
Many families who are covering the exorbitant costs of a high rental have little funds remaining for pressing expenses, let alone an unforeseen event. Affordable housing is a means of creating a savings plan or working on improving your credit rating. Even if you have experienced an eviction in the past, you can also work on improving your tenancy record with second chance apartments.
What are My Options for Low-Income Housing?
When you pursue low-income housing, it is important to consider affordable housing. Affordable apartments are growing in popularity because it offers a fairly priced rental with appealing and practical features. You can find cost-effective places to rent in a 1-, 2- or 3-bedroom space. Simply speak to your potential landlord about the apartment you are interested in renting an affordable apartment. They can help you find the right rental for your needs.