Each year, rent prices increase across the country, making it harder for some people to afford housing. Luckily, low-income housing programs can help.

But you should consider what programs you qualify for. That way, you can get the assistance you need.

Keep reading to learn more about how to get low-income housing assistance.

Who Is Low Income?

The United States has many definitions for who is low income. Pew Research Center considers anyone earning less than two-thirds of the US median income for that family size.

Another definition includes everyone earning less than double the US federal poverty line (FPL). Still, some low-income housing grants can help anyone earning up to 80 percent of the median income in that area.

Some people may qualify for certain grants and not others. If you earn a decent amount, you may still fall under the category of low income. But you may not be able to get just any grant.

Who Qualifies for Low-Income Housing Grants?

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) determines who qualifies for housing grants. Income limits vary based on the cost of living and median income in your city.

For example, someone who qualifies for low-income housing in New York City may not qualify in a smaller town. The HUD categorizes low income levels in a few ways to help distribute funds to low income individuals and families.

Income limits change yearly, but they remain at 30, 50, and 80 percent of the median income in a particular area. People with extremely low income will typically get funding first, than those with very low income.

Lastly, those with incomes between 50 and 80 percent of the median can get low-income housing grants.

Housing Choice Voucher Program

The Housing Choice Voucher Program used to be called Section 8. Now, it serves the same purpose to help provide affordable housing.

This program helps low income families afford clean, safe, decent housing. Funding can be used to rent an apartment, townhouse, or single-family home.

Under this program, you won’t receive the cash as it will go directly to your landlord. Because of this, your landlord will need to agree to your participation in the program.

You can apply for a grant from a local public housing agency (PHA). You’ll need to have low or very low income and need good housing to qualify.

Designated Housing Voucher Program

If you or someone in your family is disabled, you may qualify for the Designated Housing Voucher. It’s open to low-income disabled individuals and low-income families with a disabled member.

Non-elderly disabled vouchers come in a few types. First, there are mainstream vouchers, which are open to any age family with a disabled person.

The second type is for designated housing and is available to non-elderly people. They have to be eligible for public housing but can’t get it due to age restrictions.

Certain development vouchers are also available to those caring for a disabled family member. These families typically don’t currently have any housing assistance. The second and third vouchers help pay for rent.

State Grants

You can also get assistance from your state or city to pay for housing. Unfortunately, federal programs only help about one-fourth of people and families who need low-income housing.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) has discovered over 300 state and local housing assistance programs. Their database includes rental assistance, capital, and production programs.

You can contact the NLIHC to see if there are state or local programs available to you. If you can’t get a low-income housing grant from the federal government, state and local options may cover your financial need.

Rural Housing Grants

Perhaps you don’t qualify for other low-income housing programs but still need help. If you live in a rural area, you may be able to get a rural housing grant.

These grants are open to people with low and moderate incomes. You can get a grant for renting or owning a home, so that can be nice if you don’t want an apartment.

Rural housing grants can go toward paying for housing in open country. The grants can also help pay for homes in cities with less than 10,000 people.

Depending on your location and the funds, you may also be able to live in a city with 10,000 to 20,000 people. You can contact the HUD for more information on specifics.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Low-income housing grants can help many people pay for a decent home. However, you still usually have to pay for other things, like your energy bill.

The Low Income Home Emergency Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a program to consider. It helps low income families and individuals cover energy costs, so it can be very useful.

If you don’t get a large enough grant or can’t get one at all, LIHEAP can help you with your overall housing costs. That way, you don’t have to conserve energy just to save money.

You’re automatically eligible if you participate in other programs, like SNAP or SSI.

How to Choose Which Grant to Get

Whether you’re single or have a family, you deserve to live in suitable housing. If you make less than 80 percent of your city’s median income, you can qualify for low-income housing grants.

It can be tempting to just apply to one program. However, keep your options open. You may not qualify for the first program, or it may not cover enough of your costs.

You may also have to deal with a waitlist for the Housing Choice program. But if you can’t wait for housing, you should apply to another program to fill your needs now.

Getting a low-income housing grant may seem embarrassing. However, it can be the first step in building a good life for yourself, so getting one is worth it.

Do You Need Low-Income Housing Assistance?

Low-income housing assistance can be a useful tool to help afford a decent home. It doesn’t matter if you live in a big city or a small town.

Everyone should have access to shelter and a place to relax. Luckily, you have multiple options and ways to qualify for low-income housing.

Do you want more resources for housing and other financial topics? View our other blog posts.