With all the economic setbacks brought by the pandemic, affordable housing has become one of the most pressing concerns. Are you one of the many individuals looking for affordable properties or low income apartments for rent? Here’s everything you need to know.
Affordable housing commonly refers to homes and apartments with reduced or subsidized rents. This is made possible through government funding and incentives for housing providers. For instance, Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) apartments are cheaper than market rents and amenities similar to what you find in a market rate apartment community. Housing providers taking part in this program must charge reduced rents for low- and moderate-income tenants. Low income housing created through the LIHTC program is enforced to remain affordable for 15 years and may extend for 30 to more years for many agreements in practice. By law, a federally funded low income housing project (including LIHTC) may not refuse to rent to a Section 8 voucher holder.
Section 8 is a federal program that was created under President Lyndon B. Johnson to help people with low income to pay for rent. Also known as the Federal Housing Choice Vouchers Program, it is maintained by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
These most well-known affordable housing programs use the Area Median Income (AMI) as a metric to determine income eligibility and rent restrictions. Rents and eligibility requirements are set relative to the AMI, so that a household earning a lower percentage would be eligible for homes with cheaper rents.
The project-based Section 8 program creates or rehabilitates income-based rental housing for low-, very low-, and extremely low-income households. With the tenant-based Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, the rental assistance is tied to the individual apartment.
The Effects of Today’s Unemployment on the Housing Market
Unemployed individuals will really have a tougher time for the next few years. In fact, many experts predict another strong housing market in 2021, with forecasts on the increased demand from buyers who delayed purchasing homes because of COVID-19. Existing homeowners also need larger spaces to accommodate parents working from home and children attending online school. Condo owners are then seeking to escape multifamily buildings to lessen exposure to the virus.
According to the Washington Post, young adults fueled the increase in home sales last year. It is the millennial generation who made up the largest share of home buyers at 38%. Top earners that were not affected by the pandemic’s financial repercussions accounted for higher home sales in 2020. By contrast, first-time owners and renters are likely to face enormous obstacles in 2021. They need more money than ever before to afford to house.
According to a report by Attom Data Solutions, affordability worsened in the United States in the fourth quarter of last year because median home prices were up at least 10 percent in most of the nation. The report found that 55% of the analyzed counties were less affordable than the past averages. The opposite side of this will mean the continued decline of housing affordability and will limit future homeownership and renting opportunities for young adults if housing supply is not increased.
The home buyer tax credit would also help cover down payment costs. It is likely firmer assurance of government guarantees to mortgages. However, rising mortgage rates and higher prices will make affordability a renewed challenge throughout the year. You should expect an expansion of the low-income housing tax credit and housing vouchers being made an entitlement.
How to Find Low Income Apartments for Rent
Having trouble finding low income apartments for rent in your area? This might pose a challenge, especially if the area you need to live in is in high demand.
Take note that low-income tenants can receive rental assistance from federal, state, and local government programs. These programs in place seek to help families and individuals find a place to live, which comes in handy given the effects of the pandemic in the job and housing markets.
Applying for Low Income Housing Assistance
Applicants of low income apartments are eligible to apply for low income housing assistance at any city or county housing authority. If you wish to apply for this low income housing assistance, you may visit your state or local government websites to gather more details on how to qualify.
What does this involve? You need to make a series of appointments to walk through the properties that meet your voucher criteria. Once you’ve chosen a property, you may then turn in your application to the property manager, who would then notify you of their decisions within a few days.
Online Guides for Low Income Apartments for Rent
On the other hand, there are a number of websites that offer easy-to-use search and navigation tools to help those looking for low income apartments for rent—in no time. These sites have access to thousands of government-assisted housing listings, allowing low-income apartment hunters to fully refine their search.
One such website is Apartment Guide, which aims help your search for apartments within the area where you live or are planning to reside. It also boasts of a range of apartment hunting tips for every city, season, and situation. You can also check out its expert advice on avoiding rental scams, providing in-depth city guides, and shedding light on best times to rent. If you are going for the best yet affordable candidate of your choice, the following website will end the search.
Types of Low Income Housing Programs
There are three basic types of government-funded housing that make rents more affordable for low- and moderate-income people and families. These are public housing, vouchers, and multifamily subsidized housing. Within these three, there are various housing programs, each having their own rules, income limits, and affordability restrictions.
First, a local housing authority is the one that runs and owns a public housing. If you plan to live in a public housing, then the housing authority will become your landlord. A housing authority can offer different public housing. Public housing programs can be for families or specifically seniors and people with disabilities. Some are funded by the federal government while some are shouldered by the state government.
HUD funds the federal public housing, categorizing it into two types, namely the family housing and the housing for seniors and people with disabilities. The family housing is open to families or single people of all ages, and people with disabilities who meet particular income guidelines. Housing for seniors and people with disabilities, on the other hand, is available to households in which the head or spouse is income eligible and at least 62 years of age or has a disability.
Second, a voucher is rental assistance given to people in finding low income apartments for rent in the private market. Also called a tenant-based subsidy, this program means that the subsidy remains with the tenant and not with a separate housing development. For some cases, the rental assistance can be temporarily issued to the housing development. Having that said, the tenant has the freedom to move in with the subsidy in the future.
A voucher then allows a housing agency to pay a portion of your rent in an apartment you found in a private market. This also means that you will have a relationship with the housing authority or regional nonprofit housing agency that administers the voucher. The administering agency must approve the contract rent for the apartment, determine the portion of the rent that you will pay, conduct periodic inspection of the apartment for safety, annual review of your income, and monitor the voucher to ensure you and the landlord comply with rules of the program. The largest voucher program is the federal Section 8 voucher program. It is also called the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Multifamily Subsidized Housing
Last, this type of program, also called a project-based subsidy, is owned and operated by a private landlord or corporation. These private owners had received government subsidies to lower the cost of mortgages, rehabilitate existing housing, or build new apartments. In exchange, they are mandated to set aside a certain percentage of apartments as affordable for low-income families and individuals.
Being a tenant in multifamily subsidy means you cannot take the subsidy someplace else because it stays with the development. Often, affordable apartments are in the same development as market-rate apartments.
How to Apply for Section 8 Apartments
The Section 8 vouchers are used to help a family pay for housing. To apply for Section 8 apartments, the first place to start is your local public housing agency (PHA). Local public housing agencies regulate vouchers and consider four factors under the program eligibility. They will help you determine if you are eligible for assistance.
Determining the Eligibility
The factors include the family size and total annual gross income. Your income should not exceed 50% of the area’s median income. It is also limited to US citizens and certain categories of non-citizens that meet the documentation requirements of citizenship or eligible immigration status. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for voucher assistance. Finally, anyone who was evicted from public housing or any Section 8 program for drug-related criminal activity is also ineligible for assistance. Such a case will last for at least three years from the eviction.
The agency uses all this information to determine program eligibility and to calculate the housing assistance voucher amount. The maximum amount is usually the 30% of the individual or family’s monthly adjusted income. The recipient is bound to pay 30% but cannot pay over 40% of its monthly adjusted gross income toward rent and utilities.
In addition, you also need to confirm whether the local PHA has any restrictions or preferences. Sometimes, they prioritize applicants that are elderly, with disability, and homeless. If you do not fall under this classification, then your wait list time might be extended.
Filing for Application and Waiting Period
Next step is to get an application. Applications are entirely free and may be available online, by mail, or at the local authority’s office depending on the PHA. Fill out and complete all required parts of the application along with the other requirements. Strictly follow the instructions upon submission to ensure the seamless processing of application. Turn it in before or by the due date to risk application rejection.
It may take up to a few months for the housing authorities to either confirm waiting list placement or rejection by mail or by logging into an online portal. Even if you are eligible, they might still reject your application due to high demand. With this, the PHA must provide reasoning, and the applicant can request for an informal review. In reality, the need for housing assistance is greater than the number of vouchers available. That is why long waiting times are usual. Unfortunately, many instances of waiting list can be up to years long given the lack of funding regarding the increased demand for affordable housing.
When your application finally reached the waitlist, the PHA will contact you about receiving a housing voucher. Once receiving your voucher, you can now find qualified housing. Recipients are free to choose any housing that meets the program requirements, including a physical inspection. If the housing is secured, PHA will pay the rent directly to the landlord. Under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, tenants will pay the obligated percentage of their monthly income toward rent. The voucher will then cover the rest.
How to Sell with Confidence in Today’s Housing Market
After an unpredictable year, maybe you are wondering how the housing market predictions are like. Keep in mind that no one can predict what could happen in the future with accuracy. Housing market predictions can only provide a glimpse of what to expect if you buy or sell a house this year. Your housing decision will still heavily lie with your personal situation and finances.
With experts expecting a post-pandemic rebound, job recoveries and the law of supply and demand making its magic hope to spark a match that will make home sales increase. Real estate agents have had an entire year to adopt alternative ways to respect social distancing guidelines when necessary. Real estate gurus believe that the rise of remote workers with flexible schedules will keep home sales booming in 2021.
A significant sign for sellers is coming because plenty of home buyers will enter the market. Real estate agents said that many were still looking for homes, while many also were selling their homes. The amount of homes listed for sale is down 22% compared to last year. This means buyers will have to work a little harder to find their dream home.
Sellers out there can feel excited for 2021. There are enough buyers in the market and not as much sellers to compete with you. You will be able to set the best home price and find the right buyer if you work with an experience agent. The housing market is definitely difficult to predict. That is why it pays to have an expert by your side.
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