The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a federal agency that provides funding to local housing authorities throughout the U.S., including Pennsylvania. Housing assistance comes in two basic forms: rental assistance and home ownership assistance. Aside from funding, HUD also provides assistance to the local agencies in the form of planning and management of the local HUD programs. Low-income, elderly and disabled individuals and families may qualify for either rental assistance or home ownership assistance in Pennsylvania.
Rental assistance is offered through either public housing or the housing choice voucher program. Public housing apartments or complexes are housing units that are devoted entirely to HUD housing. The housing choice voucher program allows a voucher recipient the freedom to choose housing outside of the public housing units. The only requirement for a rental selected by a voucher holder is that the rental must be approved by HUD and the landlord must agree to accept the monthly rental amount allotted by HUD based on the rental size and area. A rental can be approved by HUD rather easily as long as the home or apartment is up to basic building codes and otherwise safe for habitation.
Rental Assistance Eligibility
Eligibility is based on family size and total household gross income. All household members must also be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens. Exact income limits are subject to change. In general, a families' total gross income may not exceed 80 percent of the median income for the area in which the family resides. The majority of the funding for HUD housing, however, is dedicated to families with incomes below 30 percent of the median income for the area. Applicants who apply as elderly or disabled may have slighter higher incomes than those who apply solely based on low-income status.
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority (PHFA) helps people achieve the dream of home ownership by providing low-interest loans as well as down payment and closing costs assistance. The program has maximum loan amounts as well as maximum income limits which vary by county and are subject to change. In most cases, the buyer must be a first-time buyer; however, in certain areas a buyer is not required to be a first-time buyer.
How to Apply
In order to apply for rental assistance, an applicant must contact the Pennsylvania Housing Authority in the area where she lives. Contact numbers can be found through the HUD Pennsylvania website. To apply for the home ownership program, an applicant must contact one of the many participating lenders found throughout Pennsylvania. The PHFA provides contact information by county on their website.