Unemployed individuals may find themselves unable to cover the cost of their rent. Many families will fall short of their rent payments and face a possible eviction. Other families may have to move to cheaper and less safe areas. There are several federal programs available to low-income families that help them afford safe and liveable housing, or to help pay the cost of their rent during a financial emergency.
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The Department of Housing and Urban Development's Housing Choice Voucher Program allows low-income families and the unemployed to choose their own home and receive a reduced rental rate. Under the program, a family will pay 30 per cent of their income towards their rent and utility bills each month and HUD will subsidise the remainder of the rent by paying the landlord directly, according to HUD. The family must meet the low-income standards in their state to qualify and HUD requires that every rental be inspected before the family can receive a housing voucher. Families can apply at their local HUD office.
Public housing offers low-income families and the unemployed a cheaper alternative to renting. Much like a traditional private rental, qualified applicants sign a lease with their local Housing Authority and are placed into a public housing facility, such as an apartment complex or a group of rental homes. The family will then pay a monthly rental fee lower than the average cost of renting in their area. The local Housing Authority in the applicant's state sets the qualifications for renting inside a public housing complex. Some states may require an at-home interview before approval. Families can apply for public housing at their local Housing Authority office or HUD field office.
Private Affordable Housing
Private affordable housing is a privately owned apartment complex or rental property where the landlord offers discounted rental rates. In a private affordable housing scenario, the property owner receives tax credits or other financial benefits providing he offers cheaper rental housing for qualified customers. The property owner can offer reduced rates to all or a portion of his tenants as long as the tenant has a low-income. HUD provides a list on its website of private owners offering low-rent housing for each state.
Families and individuals who are unable to pay their current rent but do not wish to move to a cheaper housing facility may be able to get help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The TANF program provides qualified low-income families with a monthly cash benefit they can use to cover their cost of living, including making rent payments. Each state sets the qualifications and benefit amounts for the TANF program in their area. However, most states only provide these benefits on a short-term basis. Residents can apply for the TANF program by visiting a local Social Services office or Department of Family and Children Services office.
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