Housing Assistance, What Exactly Is It?

Housing assistance is one thing that virtually every low-income single mom has heard about, but it can seem impossible to actually get it. That is because, quite frankly, almost everyone who is eligible seems to want it, and there are just not enough places to go around.

The Different Types of Housing Aid

There are three primary types of aid to choose from. They are Public Housing, the Housing Choice Voucher Program, and Privately Owned Subsidized Housing.

Public housing provides apartments to low-income families, disabled persons, and the elderly, based on their ability to pay and other factors. This housing is often what people are most familiar with, due to the often uniform appearance of the buildings. You can contact your local public housing office to apply.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides a little more anonymity than other types of aid. This is because when you receive one of these vouchers, you are then free to take it to landlord that accepts a voucher. This includes houses, apartments, condominiums or mobile homes, as long as the housing meets the current requirements. Although paid for with federal funds, this is administered on a local level and you will have to apply at your local public housing agency.

Privately owned subsidized housing works by helping apartment owners to offer affordable rent. This is done by the government paying a portion of your rent, and you paying a paying another part of your housing cost. This may or may not include any or all of your utilities, so you should make sure of what’s covered under your lease before you sign it.

Waiting Lists… Tips To Get Around It

If you’ve ever tried to apply for housing assistance in a big city, you may have been faced with what I was a few years ago. How is a waiting list closed? It’s just a long piece of paper, or a computer program! It’s very simple, actually. In many areas, it is quite common for waiting lists to be as long as two or three years. When this happens, the waiting list will typically close until a specific date in the future. This future date will often relate to the date that the office itself receives more funding, and therefore will actually be able to help more families.

If you are able to arrange transportation and you don’t mind a bit of a drive, you may find that applying in smaller towns is what works best for you. I found out only a few years ago that although the waiting list in the state capital was incredibly long, two small towns about 30 minutes away had housing assistance available. In fact, one had three units that had been available for months and no-one who was eligible had applied at all in that time period.

Another good idea is to apply at every housing agency, for every type of low-income housing in the area. Unless you have to live in a particular apartment, or you’re really needing to stay in the place you are, you might not care very much about where you live. That is, of course, as long as it’s safe and your kids go to a decent school.

Applying For Housing Assistance

Although, there may be additional qualifications in your area, you should assume that you will have to provide a few basic items. Typically, these will be:

  • Birth certificates and social security cards for each member of the household
  • Proof of all earned income
  • Divorce or child support records, as well as grant or loan money
  • Picture ID for all adults

One important thing to consider is that if an applicant has a history of criminal charges that involve any type of drug use or sales, she might not be eligible for hosing assistance for anywhere from one to four years, or even longer in some cases. Some areas will also deny you if you have a violent felony in the last few years.

Attention to detail and accurate record keeping are vital if you want to receive housing assistance. Single moms are very likely to be looking for this help, so it’s important to make sure that your application is complete, and that you call back to check on its status at the appropriate time.

Housing assistance has the potential to change your life. During this time period when your living expenses are lower than they would be otherwise, you might want to consider looking into going to school. Some recipients have found long-term success by taking an internship position that doesn’t pay much now, but eventually led to a better paying job in the future. There are many ways that housing assistance can help you, and although lower rent is the most obvious one, it may not even be the best one.