Mothers have a mountain of challenges to face from child-rearing issues to being the sole financial provider for their families and everything in between. Often housing is single biggest expense a single mother has. Finding housing that is affordable, safe and provides adequate shelter for her and her family is sometimes akin to Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain only to have it roll down again and again. Finding suitable housing is indeed daunting at best. Fortunately, the Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD has put together an assistance program for those who the help with their housing arrangements.
Through HUD, those with low to moderate incomes including members of groups including the elderly, disabled and single mothers can apply for housing assistance. State and local agencies also work with HUD to make affordable housing available to everyone. If you could use some help finding housing or need assistance paying for housing, you should be applying for HUD assistance.
A little background
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in the “sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” In 1989, the act was expanded to include discrimination against families with children under 18 or pregnant women. It is HUD’s responsibility to administer the requirements of this act and to work with states and local agencies to make housing available to tall those in need.
Those, like single mothers and the elderly, with low incomes can obtain housing in a number of ways through HUD agencies. Public HUD housing developments and rent subsidies are two of the more common ways in which the needy can find housing assistance. Applicants must fall beneath a specified income level for their family size to qualify for assistance.
Types of HUD housing assistance you can apply for
A HUD housing development is owned and operated by the government. In larger, urban areas, these can be huge apartment complexes. In smaller communities, they can be much smaller apartment buildings. Sometimes these buildings are constructed with the intent of helping a specific group of people such as single mothers, disabled people, recovering drug addicts or those who have endured homelessness. It is also built and supplied in areas where a disaster such as a hurricane or tornado has occurred to provide housing for those who are waiting for their homes to be reconstructed.
Renters can also get subsidies from HUD to help pay their rent. This type of assistance is commonly referred to as Section 8 assistance. Recipients receive vouchers from HUD which are then passed on to landlords as part of their rent payment. This allows single mothers and others to look for housing outside the government housing complexes that is more suitable for their needs. As long as a landlord can be found who accepts, section 8 payments can be found, this gives renters more freedom and independence in their housing options.
Applying for HUD housing
Because HUD housing varies from state to state and within municipalities within each state, it is always a good idea to check with the housing authority where you live or where you wish to live. Basically, the two most important factors in determining qualification are the applicant’s citizenship status and income. Other factors that may come into play depending on the type of housing assistance you are applying for could be the size of the family, whether or not the applicant is elderly, disabled, a single parent, etc. Once these basic parameters are identified and met, the applicant is then assessed for character.
There are two different programs available to applicants: the public housing program or the Section 8 program. Each has different requirements for meeting the income qualifications. The limits are set by the housing authority in the area where the housing is made available and are linked to the median income for that area.
With public housing, the local housing authority manages multi-family rental buildings and units are leased to families at reduced rates. An applicant’s income cannot exceed a specified percentage of the median income set for that area in order to be eligible.
Section 8 housing uses a voucher-based system. The renter receives a voucher to be used to pay rent on a rental unit available to the open market. The landlord agrees to cooperate with Section 8 and must undergo a property inspection before being approved. The landlord must not charge rent which exceeds the fair rental amount as set by HUD. The income level of the applicant must not exceed a specified percentage of the median income set for that area in order to be eligible. IF these parameters are met, the applicant may rent from the Section 8-approved landlord and receive rent assistance.
The citizenship qualification is the other point to contend with. Anyone who is a U.S. citizen is eligible. Eligible immigrants and non-citizens who have legal resident alien status would also qualify under the citizenship requirements. These requirements apply to both the public housing and Section 8 programs.
Once the citizenship and income requirements have been met, the local HUD office must verify the character of the applicant. This may include background checks, checks for criminal history, credit checks and will require you to submit personal references who will be contacted with regards to verifying your personal character.
The idea of finding suitable housing for you and your children may have seemed like an impossible dream. It doesn’t have to be. By applying for HUD housing assistance, you have options. In some areas there are even options for buying single family homes at affordable rates. You may be able to work with Habitat for Humanity to get a brand new home for free. Start by talking with your local HUD agency. They can put you in touch with other organizations or help you find local affordable housing, qualify for rent assistance or maybe even buy a home of your own. Safe, affordable housing for you and your children is within your grasp.