How to Get Rent Assistance as a Single Parent

It can be difficult to pay for essential household costs with one income. As a result, many single parents seek out rental assistance resources. Rent assistance programs help to lower the financial burden of paying for shelter. Residents who qualify for housing assistance are able to find shelter in apartments, townhome and houses at much lower costs than regular housing. These programs are provided and funded by the U.S. Department of Urban Development (HUD).

There are a variety of housing and rental options available for single parents who qualify for rent assistance. For instance, public and subsidized housing complexes offer tenancy for families at very low rates. Moreover, the Section 8 program enables participants to choose from a wider range of apartments, while still contributing less than 50 percent of the regular rent cost. Read on to learn more about these programs and determine if you qualify for them.

Learn About Section 8 Rentals 

When you earn a low income as a single parent, finding an affordable and decent place to live can feel impossible. However, HUD offers several housing assistance options. One helpful program is the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), also known as Section 8. 

Residents who qualify for this program will receive a portable voucher that enables them to pay a lower rent at eligible apartments. Unlike other government housing assistance programs, recipients of Section 8 can choose from a wide variety of apartments rather than a small selection of government or subsidized housing. 

Essentially, beneficiaries can choose any apartment, home or townhouse to rent that is approved by HUD and accepts their housing vouchers. Moreover, they are permitted to move to other eligible dwellings if they need or wish to.

The disadvantage of this program is often the long waitlist. Many households qualify for Section 8 but there is a limited of housing available, thus they are forced to wait months or years on a waitlist to receive their vouchers. Moreover, the Section 8 waitlist is based on needs in the specific community. Thus, even if you apply early, you may not be at the top of the list to receive a voucher. However, households with dependents are typically given priority. 

How to Find Low Income Apartments

You may have been looking for more affordable rentals but have come up short. While it may require extra effort to find cheap housing, it is possible to find low-cost apartments. One simple way to find cheap housing is to conduct an online search.

Numerous websites exist with listings of apartments that are affordable for low-income parents. Both private companies and non-profit organizations provide listings, as well as additional resources for finding the right low-cost place to live. Moreover, your local public housing agency (PHA) can assist you with finding low-cost housing. 

When looking for the right low-income apartment, you should make a list of the complexes you are interested in. Taking the time to tour the apartment facilities can help you make your decision about where to live. The location of the apartment, house or townhouse may also be something that is important to you. For instance, housing that is far from your child’s school or your job may not be the best place if you are trying to limit transportation cost. 

Find Out About Subsidized Housing

Privately-owned but government-sponsored dwellings are considered to be subsidized housing. With this type of housing, tenants pay a portion of their rent to their landlord, and their local PHA pays for the rest. 

As a result, residents are able to live in privately-owned apartments but pay a much lower rent. In this type of housing, tenants may be a mix of low and median-income. However, some apartments may be designed specifically for low-income tenants. 

To qualify for subsided housing, not only do you have to meet HUD’s income requirements, but the landlord’s criteria as well. This means that you may be required to pass additional background checks, or a credit check. When applying for subsidized housing, you will be treated as any other tenant seeking to rent and subjected to the same requirements. 

In order to qualify for subsidized housing, you will first have to meet the income limits of your local PHA. Typically, limits are set according to the median income in a county or large city. Residents who are accepted must earn no more than 50 to 80 percent of the income in their area. Additionally, these limits may change each year, and it is important to update your PHA about any changes in income. 

Learn About Public Housing 

Dwellings owned and operated by the government are considered public housing. Unlike most other types of housing, in this case your landlord will be your local PHA. However, you are still required to meet HUD eligibility criteria, as well as demonstrate that you are a suitable tenant. 

Public housing rentals meet HUD standards of safety, sanitation and decency. Thus, you can rest assured that your apartment has everything you and your family need to feel safe. For instance, all government housing properties are required to have fully-operation sanitation and cooking facilities. 

They must also have refrigerators, kitchen sinks, an oven and a stove. Moreover, all rentals are required to be able to provide a healthy thermal environment, thus supplying a heater or air conditioning system. 

To qualify for public housing, you must make less than the median income of the area you live in. This is determined by your PHA, and specific income amounts can vary each year. However, the general criteria specifies that you cannot earn more than 80 percent of the area’s median income. Additionally, your household size will impact how much you are permitted to earn to qualify.

About Emergency Housing Assistance 

Many cities have numerous resources for single parents and their children who need emergency housing assistance. Homelessness and the threat of eviction both usually qualify as an emergency. Additionally, housing options and resources are available in many cities and communities for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Centers of worship such as churches and local non-profit agencies can often offer emergency housing assistance. 

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFS) is a national program administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that can provide temporary shelter if you are homeless or at risk for homelessness. 

In addition, if you are struggling to make your rental payment and at risk of eviction, you may be able to obtain financial assistance. Various local non-profit organizations may be able to provide you with a one-time grant to pay for rent or utility costs if you qualify.