Beneficiaries of federal housing assistance can choose from different types of housing programs including public housing, privately owned subsidized housing, and housing choice voucher programs. Even though all the housing assistance programs are intended to help citizens get affordable rental houses, they differ from each other in certain aspects. It is important for federal housing assistance applicants to understand the features of each program so that they know the type of programs that suits their needs. Public housing programs incorporate affordable apartments provided by the federal government to less privileged families or individuals like elderly persons, low-income families and persons with disabilities. The public housing program is applied for through the local public housing authority which also determines eligibility of applicants and allocates resources based on determined criteria. Privately owned subsidized housing is a HUD program that assists apartment owners to provide houses for rent to low-income families at reduced rental fees. Besides the definition of public housing and subsidized housing, there are other distinct properties about these two housing programs.
Eligibility for Different Types of Public Housing Assistance
In both public and subsidized housing, families must meet certain eligibility conditions in order to be considered for assistance. The applicants must have incomes below certain limits, must satisfy the definition of a family, and must have at least one U.S citizen in the household according to some housing assistance programs. Other factors that are also considered include age, disability status, and household size.
Landlords and Public Housing Assistance Programs
Rental assistance beneficiaries who live in public housing are answerable to the housing authority, which owns the rental building and also acts as the landlord. In some cases though, a private company could be responsible for managing the building on behalf of the housing authority. The private company may also have part ownership of the building, but the control of the building is always under the housing authority.
Rental assistance beneficiaries who live in subsidized housing are answerable to the private owners who are the landlords of the building. The landlords are not just owners of the buildings but are also responsible for operating the buildings and renting the units to low and moderate-income families that need affordable housing. Private house owners may be individuals or corporations and the subsidized houses can be obtained through vouchers. Tenants who have vouchers can find rental housing from the private market and pay the landlord using this subsidy voucher.
Applying for Public Housing Assistance in the U.S.
In order to benefit from public housing assistance, applicants have to submit their applications to any housing authority in the town or city they intend to live. Public housing applicants can make as many applications as they wish if they want to increase their chances of being allocated a house by the housing authority. If the public housing is managed by private owners, applicants may be required to submit applications to the individual or private management in charge. In subsidized housing, applicants can apply for vouchers to through the housing authority that providesing the Section 8 voucher program. Besides the housing authorities offering vouchers, there are also regional non-profit agencies that give Section 8 vouchers to qualified residents.
Rules and Regulations Surrounding Public Housing Assistance
Public housing assistance programs have different requirements for beneficiaries living in public and subsidized housing. Beneficiaries of public housing must live in the community where they applied for assistance. However, beneficiaries who get vouchers for subsidized housing can use it wherever they chose to live in the state. If the voucher is a Section 8 voucher then it can be used outside the state where it is issued. This means that the holder can easily move with the voucher to a new location and still use it there. Beneficiaries of multifamily subsidized housing cannot move with the subsidy just like public housing beneficiaries.
How Much Rent Do Section 8, Low- Income Families Pay?
Public housing tenants pay about 30 percent of their income for rent especially if utilities are included in the house rental fees. If utilities are not included then the amount paid by the tenant could be less than 30 percent. State family public housing could require a tenant to pay a higher percentage and every year the housing authority determines the amount of rent to be paid by tenants. The amount of rent paid by a tenant is always adjusted yearly based on changes in income or deductions.
For Section 8 voucher programs, a tenant may be required to pay as much as 40 percent of their his or her income for the rent. In Section 8 voucher programs, the percentage paid could be higher in the first year than subsequent years. The housing authority ensures that apartments chosen for rentals meet quality standards and that the landlords charge reasonable rent compared to the market rates for the same units.
In multifamily subsidized housing, rent can be calculated as a percentage of income paid by others in similar types of public housing or as a fixed amount based on rooms in the apartment rented. It is important for tenants to ask the landlords how rent is calculated as well as how changes in income affect the rent paid by the tenants.
What Are Public Housing Rental Rates Based On?
In both public housing and subsidized housing, it is possible to change to another appropriate public housing or subsidized apartment if family size changes. Transfers may take a long time to achieve, and for some state public housing, if a beneficiary is “over-housed” then the housing authority may increase the rent by up to 150 percent of the usual level. In voucher-based programs, such as Section 8, federal subsidy changes are made when the annual recertification of income and family composition assessment is done.
Loss of Public Housing Assistance and Evictions
Multi-family subsidized housing and public housing evictions can only be done if tenants violate program rules or lease terms. Any Section 8 beneficiary who is evicted from subsidized multifamily or public housing automatically loses rental subsidies. For Section 8 voucher-based programs, the landlord may fail to renew the lease with the tenant after the end of the annual tenancy period. If the reason for losing tenancy is the tenant’s fault then the Section 8 subsidy is lost as well but if has not been the tenant’s fault that the tenancy was lost, then they may keep the subsidy.