Although there are no federal housing assistance programs available to Supplemental Security Income recipients, state programs are available to help people with low incomes. As of the date of publication, the monthly maximum federal SSI benefit amount for an individual is $771 and $1157 for couples. Since SSI benefits are very low, recipients generally meet the state income requirement to receive housing assistance. Funding is limited and programs vary among states.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development established public housing to provide safe rental housing to qualifying low-income-families, elderly and disabled individuals. Local public housing authorities are responsible for administering the public housing program, but HUD sets the income requirements.
Low income applicants cannot have an income greater than 80 percent of the median income for the area. Since the area median income varies depending on the location, you may qualify in some counties and not others. You can check the current income limits throughout the country by visiting HUD.gov. For example, in Fresno, Calif., the very low category is less $20,900 a year for an individual to qualify in 2018. In Dixie, Fla., the very low income limit is $18,250 per year for individuals.
Housing Choice Vouchers
Through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, qualifying individuals and families can receive monthly rental assistance towards private housing. If approved, participants are able to choose their own housing, which includes single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.
The rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety as set by the public housing authority. The tenant is responsible for paying 30 percent of the family's adjusted monthly income in rent; the voucher covers the remaining balance.
According to HUD, generally the family's income may not exceed 50 percent of the median income for area in which the family chooses to live. Under certain circumstances, the vouchers may be used to purchase a home through the Housing Choice Homeownership Program, although funding is limited. There are often waiting lists that range from a few months to several years.
HUD helps private apartment owners offer reduced rental rates to low-income tenants. Similar to public housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program, tenants pay a portion of their rent and HUD provides the rest. A list of privately-owned subsidized apartments are available on the HUD website under the Rental Assistance section. Instead of applying through the public housing agency, you must contact the apartment directly to submit an application.
Shelter Plus Care Program
If you are a homeless person receiving SSI benefits, you may qualify for the Shelter Plus Care Program. The program is designed to provide long-term housing and supportive services for people with disabilities. HUD defines a homeless person as someone sleeping in a shelter, a place not meant for human habitation, living in transitional housing or a person who has been evicted from a private dwelling within a week and having no residence or resources.
Through the program, individuals and their families receive housing assistance and rehabilitation services. Although the primary focus of the program is helping people with mental illnesses and drug addiction, other disabilities are not excluded from the program.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.