If you're living with a disability or low income, finding an affordable housing arrangement can be difficult. To help disabled people and low-income families find homes, the federal government offers several types of housing assistance. Disabled people and low-income families may also find assistance through state or local government programs.
The Section 8 program, also known as the housing choice voucher program, is a federal program that helps disabled, elderly and low-income individuals and their families afford safe, clean housing. To qualify for a housing voucher, your family's income must be no more than 50 percent of the median income in your area. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development requires that at least 75 percent of all vouchers go to families with incomes equal to or less than 30 percent of the vicinity's median income. Because the Section 8 program offers a limited number of vouchers, you may need to join a waiting list before you can apply. To apply for Section 8, contact your local Public Housing Authority (see Resources).
If you don't qualify for a housing voucher, or if you are still on a waiting list, you may qualify for subsidized housing. Subsidized housing complexes are housing providers specifically designed to provide a safe living environment for elderly individuals, disabled individuals or low-income families. While some complexes are available to any qualifying family or individual, others cater only to the disabled or elderly. Eligibility requirements for subsidized housing vary by location. To learn more about subsidized housing in your area, contact your local PHA (see Resources).
Regardless of where you choose to live, federal law offers certain protections for disabled and low-income tenants. It is illegal for any housing provider to discriminate against you because of a disability. Furthermore, if you are disabled, your housing provider must make reasonable accommodations for you when necessary, such as wheelchair ramp installation or reserved parking. Although housing providers may refuse to rent you a unit because of your low income, they may not deny low-income tenants housing because of familial status, sex, religion, color, national origin or race.
Although Section 8 is a federal subsidy program, it is administered by PHAs, which are located in individual counties. Thus, the options available to low-income and disabled individuals vary by location. In some cases, additional housing assistance for people with disabilities or limited monthly income may be available from religious or charitable organizations.
Amanda McMullen is a freelancer who has been writing professionally since 2010. She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and statistics and a second bachelor's degree in integrated mathematics education.