Buying and maintaining a home is costly, and there’s no way to get around it. This includes electricity, water, utilities, etc. These additional bills that come with owning a home have left many Americans struggling to pay rent.
As of September 2022, house prices have increased by 13.9%, with the average American home costing roughly $427,000.
However, this does not have to be the case for you! There are a number of ways to find affordable housing that works for your budget and personal needs.
Here’s how to start your search!
Know Your Budget
Before even beginning your search, have a clear idea of how much you can invest into a home.
This also comes with understanding your income, expenses, and savings amounts as well. Affordable housing will look different for everyone, so know your goals and limitations beforehand.
A good way to start is by understanding the general guideline made by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
It says that a household will have affordable housing if they spend no more than 30% of their gross income towards housing expenses. For example, if you make $1,400 a month, you shouldn’t spend any more than $420 towards your house bills.
If you spend over 30% of your income on housing, your home is considered cost-burdened. This often leads to other financial strains including trouble with transportation, groceries, and other expenses.
Where To Start
Once you have a good understanding of your income and budget, you can actually start looking for a home.
When looking for potential housing assistance, there are a few places to look for help.
1. Public Housing Authority (PHA)
Every county and community has one of these, and they’re there for good reason!
With the PHA being funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the agency can any in need. The administrative agency has access to hundreds of housing openings, financial support, and assistance.
Any support from the PHA is completely free, and they offer information for other housing programs you may be eligible for.
See the Department of Housing and Urban Development website for more information regarding your local PHA.
Benefits.gov is an online resource that gives full access to current housing programs available near you.
The website page will immediately redirect you to a questionnaire tab. Here you’ll be able to provide information for the website to then see what programs you’re eligible to apply for!
You can also search through specific categories and agency programs to find one that best fits your financial housing needs.
This site is a great place to start, however, financial help isn’t guaranteed. In order to fully receive government assistance, you will need to submit applications for each program.
If you’re simply having trouble finding affordable homes in your local area, this is where 211.org comes in handy! The website provides information on affordable housing, assistance in finding a house, and weatherization assistance.
211.org will give you helpful information regarding local resources for financial assistance.
Their website helps not only with housing assistance, but with other needs like healthcare, food, and other life necessities.
This website has helped many find comfortable homes that fit within their budgets. They have helped over 4.3 million Americans create more financially stable and comfortable housing arrangements.
By answering a few questions regarding your personal information, they will personalize an array of financial housing resources to best fit your needs and concerns.
What Affordable Housing Options Are Available?
Through most of the resources listed above, many will direct you to these housing support options:
- Housing Vouchers
- Public Housing
1. Housing Vouchers
This program is better known as Section 8. Section 8 is a federally-funded program the government put in place to help low-income individuals to afford a place to live.
The application process takes some time, but the government provides those eligible with options from the private housing market.
First, you must apply to your local PHA and be approved by them to apply for a housing voucher. From there you will be redirected to the Section 8 application to complete and submit.
2. Public Housing
Another housing option is available through the Public Housing program run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This program includes housing units that are overseen by local public housing associations. The rent owed on these units is calculated based on your financial abilities.
Your local housing association will decide your eligibility through the following factors:
- Family Status
- Citizenship Status
- Annual gross income
Final Tips For Affordable Housing
If you’re trying to keep your current home while undergoing some financial hardship, there are some things to consider that can help.
- Consider getting a roommate
- Re-evaluate your budget and make some sacrifices
1. Consider getting a roommate
Depending on your situation, a quick money fix is finding someone to split the rent with! Roommates can be friends, family, or even a coworker.
While it can be difficult to find a roommate you can trust, the financial relief is worth it in the long run. Find someone who is both reliable and meets your requirements for a roommate.
2. Re-evaluate your finances and make some sacrifices
If you’re having a hard time affording your rent, a simple budget adjustment could alleviate your financial stress.
Go through your expenses and categorize them into two groups: Necessities and wants. If your wants outweigh your needs, you may need to cut some until you can become more financially stable.
In doing so, you may even find some subscriptions you completely forgot about that draining your bank account anymore. Reviewing your budget often is a great habit to get into for this reason.
Whatever your financial situation is, there are places and resources that can help. You are not alone in your housing expenses, which is why the government has created programs and opportunities for them to help.
Reach out to these programs, follow these tips, and your financial burdens will be gone before you remember them being there!