How to Apply for Housing Assistance

How to Apply for Housing Assistance. Housing assistance is available to help people with low and moderate incomes, including the elderly and the disabled. The federal government offers housing assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD also contracts with state and local agencies to make sure everyone has access to safe and affordable housing.

Contact the local HUD office listed in the government section of the phone book. You will be directed to a local housing authority office.

Call for an appointment. Ask whether you will need to bring in any information or documentation such as pay stubs or benefits statements.

Go in and fill out an assistance application. You'll be required to answer questions about who will be living with you, your income and any special needs.

Calculate how much housing assistance programs will allow you to pay for rent. The maximum housing assistance is determined as follows: HUD awards the lesser of the payment standard minus 30% of household monthly adjusted income or the gross rent minus 30% of monthly adjusted income.

Determine whether your family size and income make you eligible for rent subsidy or other housing assistance.

Fill out an application for Section 8, a rent subsidy, if you are eligible. The housing authority office will supply the application if you meet the requirements.

Ask the office to provide a list of affordable housing properties in your area. Most of these government-subsidized housing units fall under Section 8.

Find out which properties fall under the "rental certificate program" and which fall under the "rental voucher program." These are both Section 8 housing programs.

Contact the landlords or managers of these properties to arrange a walk-through.


  • Eligibility requirements state that the family's income may not exceed 50 percent of the median income for the county or metropolitan area. Local housing authority offices can provide the area's income limits. Be prepared to document your application with a paycheck stub, tax return and birth certificate. Under the certificate program, HUD sets the level of rent. Each tenant pays only 30 percent of his or her income for rent and utilities. In the rental voucher program, owners and managers set the rent, which may be higher or lower than HUD's payment standard; HUD provides families with a set level of assistance and the percentage of income the family pays may be more or less than 30 percent. Housing authority officials can provide you with information on state or local housing assistance; state and local subsidy programs are available in many areas.


  • Don't count on immediate assistance if you don't fall under preferential guidelines. Preference is given to people who are currently homeless or living in substandard housing, are paying more than half their income on rent or have been involuntarily displaced.

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