National Housing Assistance Programs

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Housing assistance programs.  National housing assistance programs in the United States aim to provide affordable housing solutions for low-income individuals, families, and specific vulnerable populations. Here’s an overview of some prominent national housing assistance programs.

Later in the century, the government devised subsidy programs to help develop low-income housingOpens in a new tab. to meet the needs of those having difficulty paying rent.

Let me address the myth that this type of housing is only for people on welfare.  Many people living in government-assisted housing are hard-working, yet their salaries are insufficient to meet their living needs.

You can rent public housing as well as private government housing. They have to provide proof of income, have no feloniesOpens in a new tab., and be law-abiding citizens—persons who violate government housing rules are subject to losing the privilege of subsidized living.

How Subsidized Housing Works

The Housing Authority partners with privately-owned housing to provide subsidiesOpens in a new tab. for needy people. It is the Housing Authorities’ responsibility to screen applicants for this housing. Once a tenant is approved, the Housing Authority signs the lease and pays the difference between the tenant’s pay and the apartment’s market rate.

The lack of available housing is why there is such a long waiting list and a tremendous need for low-income housing all over the U.S. The government is now discussing cutting some of these entitlement programs, so the future of government-assisted housingOpens in a new tab. opportunities is always subject to change. Check with your city and state for changes.

Types of Subsidies:

  • Direct Housing Subsidies: The government (often local or state) owns and operates housing units specifically for low-income residents. Rent in these units is at a fixed, affordable rate.
  • Housing Choice Vouchers (often known as Section 8): Instead of providing a specific housing unit, the government gives eligible residents a voucher. The resident can choose safe and clean housing, and the voucher covers some of the rent.


  • Income Requirements: To qualify for subsidized housing, a household’s income must fall below certain thresholds. These thresholds vary by region and are based on median area incomes.
  • Other Criteria: Depending on the specific program, there might be additional eligibility criteria related to age, disability, family size, or other factors.

Application Process

  • Applicants typically fill out a form that details their household size, income, and other relevant information.
  • Due to high demand, there’s often a waiting list for subsidized housing. Some programs prioritize applications based on specific needs or vulnerabilities.

Rent Calculation

  • In many subsidized housing programs, tenant rent is based on their income. A common approach is to charge rent as a fixed percentage of a household’s income (e.g., 30%).

 Regular Recertification

  • To ensure that only those who qualify for assistance, households in subsidized housing often need to recertify their eligibility annually. Screening involves providing updated income information and other relevant details.

Landlord Participation (for voucher programs)

  • Landlords must agree to participate in voucher programs and comply with program regulations.
  • Housing units must meet specific health and safety standards.
  • Once a landlord agrees to rent to a voucher holder, the local housing authority will pay the subsidy amount directly to the landlord, and the tenant pays the difference.


  • Government agencies usually fund subsidized housing programs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible for subsidized housing. However, state and local agencies often manage or administer the programs.


  • For tenants, the primary benefit is affordable housing, which can provide stability and improve quality of life.
  • For communities, subsidized housing can reduce homelessness and its associated costs, contribute to more diverse neighborhoods, and support local economic activity.


  • Demand vs. Supply: The need for subsidized housing often exceeds the available units or vouchers, leading to long waiting lists.
  • Stigma: There can sometimes be a negative perception or stigma associated with subsidized housing, affecting where these developments are built and how they’re received in the community.

Subsidized housing plays a crucial role in addressing housing affordability challenges, especially in areas where rents are high relative to incomes. However, the implementation and effectiveness can vary depending on the region, specific program details, and available funding.

Government Housing Assistance Programs

Public Housing

Description: Managed by local PHAs, this program offers low-income families, older adults, and those with disabilities.

Eligibility: Similar to Section 8, varies slightly by location

Section 8 – Housing Choice Vouchers

Eligibility: Determined by the local Public Housing Agency (PHA) based on annual gross income, U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status, and family size.  Section 8 Housing can include apartments, public government housing, or private homes.  

Section 202 Supportive Housing

Description: Provides subsidies to support the creation of multifamily housing for very low-income elderly persons.

Eligibility: Primarily for seniors with very low incomes

Tax Credit Apartments – Income Restricted Communities

Most people are familiar with Public Housing and Section 8 or Housing Choice programs. Affordable housing is the same thing. All three programs help low-income people by paying rentOpens in a new tab. according to their income needs. Tax Credit Housing Communities are less readily available but are more modern and easier to apply for and be approved. Click on the links below to find out in-depth info about each program.

Section 811 Supportive Housing

Description: Similar to the Section 202 program, specifically designed for low-income adults with disabilities.

Eligibility: Adults with disabilities and meager incomes.

USDA Rural Housing Service (RHS)

Description: This includes loans, grants, and guarantees for single-family homes, multifamily housing, and farm labor housing.

Eligibility: Varies depending on the specific program; generally focused on low-income individuals and families in rural areas.

Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)

Description: Provides housing assistance and supportive services for low-income individuals with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Eligibility: Based on medical diagnosis and financial need.

Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program

Description: Offers grants to support street outreach, emergency shelter, rapid re-housing, and homelessness prevention.

Eligibility: Varies by locality and specific services provided.

Homeless Assistance Grants

Description: Funds programs to assist people without housing, including Continuum of Care (CoC) and Rapid Rehousing.

  • Eligibility: Aimed at individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Applying for Government-Assisted Housing

In 1962, the U.S. Housing Act expanded the program with Section 23. Potential tenants are placed on a waiting list for housing. Many people require this service; the waiting period can be extremely long.  Single WomenOpens in a new tab. with children have priority over individual residents for obvious reasons. Children need to have a safe and comfortable home in which to live.

Qualifications for Receiving Section 8 Housing 

To receive Section 8, you must be below 50% of the area median income. The process of applying for low-income housing is free. If you encounter anyone wanting to charge you or the application, say no thanks and look further.

When looking for housing assistance programsOpens in a new tab., you can also go to www.hud.govOpens in a new tab. to locate government-assisting housing programs in your state—alternatively, housing authority agencies.

    • Call or visit the housing authority.
    • Get on the waiting list.
    • Make sure you have proper documentation.

Other Government Housing Programs

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

How to find HUD Subsidized Housing Properties?  With the assistance of HUD, those looking for subsidized housing can locate available properties that offer reduced rent options to low-income familiesOpens in a new tab..

HUD has a list of private and public subsidized housing. Go to and enter your county, city, the number of rooms, etc., to see what is available. Contact the location for further details.

For more information – 800-998-9999.  Public housing, sometimes called projects, assists the elderly, disabledOpens in a new tab., veterans, and disadvantaged families in finding affordable housing—contact number – 704-336-5183.  

Section 8 is a voucher program that issues prospective tenants with an acceptance voucher for low-income housing. You have to look for a property owner that will accept their voucher. For more information, call 704-336-5183 or visit Section 8 HousingOpens in a new tab..

Mortgage Assistance ProgramsOpens in a new tab.

This program works similarly to the other programs, except mortgage assistance helps those who need help to pay their mortgage.

How to Apply for Housing Assistance Programs

Documenting your financial status

When you apply for government-assisted housing, you must bring documentation to prove your accurate status. Please bring all the proper documentation to avoid having to come back. If you need clarification on what is required, call before you head out to prepare. To apply for low-income housing, please bring,

  • W-2, letters
  • Pay stubs from your job
  • Current proof of address
  • picture identification
  • Letter from government assistance agency
  • social security cards, birth certificates of children
  • Proof of your residency status

In Conclusion

You can wait years to enter low-income housing. Go to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to request a list of landlords taking Section 8. Be patient; if your situation changes, be prepared to bring this proof to the housing agency. Soon, they will call you and your family to move into your new affordable home.

Most of these programs have waiting lists due to high demand, and eligibility requirements can be specific and may vary by locality. It’s crucial to reach out to the appropriate local agency or organization that manages these programs to understand the available options and the application process.

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