What you need to apply for is a government program through Housing and Urban Development that provides rental assistance to low-income individuals and families called “subsidized” or “income-based” housing.
What is it?
As the name implies “income-based” housing is based on income where your monthly rent due is 25-30% of your adjusted net income. For instance, you could say you babysat and received $200 a month in cash payments you have a handwritten log for the past several months. Then your monthly subsidized rent could be roughly something like $9-40/month + electric.
Who is eligible?
Any adult (18+) earns some type of income monthly who does not exceed the maximum income limit. Not restricted to any age, gender, or disability and there are no work programs or anything of the like necessary to enroll or maintain status in the program. You must earn some type of monthly income to be eligible, otherwise, you can apply for completely free housing known as Section 8.
They only require all adults who will be staying at the residence to sign the lease and once every six months they do a quick walk-through to make sure there are no other adults not on the lease staying there and that the place is relatively clean. If you need to add an adult to the lease it is a really simple process.
Where do I find places that offer income-based housing?
You can go to your local HUD office and fill out one form/program application that will be submitted to many places. This can take a long time because many places have waiting lists and it is hard for them to keep track of who found housing or still needs it or if someone changed their phone number etc.
To get a place faster instead I would search for income-based housing in the city you would like to live. Then I would call each place and ask if they had any “x” amount of bedroom apartments available to move into soon. Then if they say they do have vacancies I would then ask when you can come in to apply for their income-based housing.
How do I apply?
You will first go in person to the apartment complex or other housing facility and pick up a thick 100+ page packet. They require you to read and fill out, sign and initial every place inside it for each adult on the lease. Then you schedule an appointment to meet with them to go over the packet again where they go through each page and make sure it’s complete. This is a long process so be prepared to sit for an hour or more.
Make sure to ask what particular documentation and identification is required to apply but typically all adults and children need to provide 2 forms of ID and their social security card. At least one adult needs to be eligible for income-based housing however if more than one adult is eligible they may exceed the maximum limit for housing so make sure you read your state’s policy to join the program. If you have your recent tax statements it may be helpful to bring them as well.
Not all places have waiting lists but it never hurts to ask to be added just in case because your name could be next faster than you think. Generally, people with children get into the program faster than others but that does not rule you out of entering the program.
Once you’ve finished applying to the program expect to house in 1-12 months. Good luck!