Staying with family or friends until you get back on your feet is usually a great option but if you long for more independence or if that option isn’t available to you, there are still other ways to secure affordable housing.
The government offers several housing solutions for single moms who need it and there are also some housing solutions that aren’t funded by the government. This post is part 1 of a 3-part housing help series dedicated to single parents.
Today I will cover all the details about government housing assistance options and share some helpful resources. First thing is first though:
Getting over Your Pride
Government funded housing assistance varies from state, region, county and city. Each year, states provide numbers that help determine low income limits based on family size, geographic area, and the median income range in that area. This helps establish a criteria to ensure the people who need help receive it.
There has almost always been a negative stigma attached to government housing assistance programs. I want to make it known that the programs mentioned below are in place so that people can utilize them.
While a small number people may abuse the system, the government’s assistance provides hundreds of thousands of families with affordable housing in nice areas with good schools and great job opportunities.
For single moms with a lower income, this means having a clean and affordable place to raise your kids. It doesn’t matter what people think if you receive government assistance for housing, food or medical care. If you choose to utilize government assistance for affordable housing, it should only be a temporary decision anyway and allow you enough time to get back on your feet and move on to bigger and better things.
I’d be lying if I said all government funded housing options are equal. Even with government assistance you still have the right to choose where you live so you don’t have to settle for housing that’s in a bad area or doesn’t meet the standards you set for yourself and your kids.
There are quality options out there that are just as good as regular housing options and if you have to move cities or counties to be placed in a better apartment, town home, or single-family home, it will definitely be worth it.
If rent and the cost of living in your area are too high to afford, you can see if there are any low income housing programs in your area. Low income housing, also referred to as income-based or subsidized housing, is offered through specific public and private apartment complexes and townhouses allowing tenants to only be responsible for paying rent that amounts to approximately 30 percent of their monthly gross income.
If you are a student or pay for childcare, your rent rate can possibly be reduced even more. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) makes this possible by covering the rest of the tenant’s rent amount.
In order to qualify, your income needs to prove that you can’t afford to pay the market rent rate in your area and cover other housing related expenses. Only applicants with low incomes compared to state and Federal regulations will qualify. Once you are approved, you will most likely be put on a waiting list that operates on a first-come first-served basis. When a unit is available based on your preferences, you will receive a call to confirm if you are still interested.
Waiting list times can range anywhere from 6 months to 3 years or more. To learn more about income-based housing or to see if you qualify, you can find more information on the HUD’s website.
It’s important to only utilize income-based housing if you truly need it. Most programs are strict and the landlord is required to raise your rent if your income increases substantially.
This is what happened to me when I decided to try income-based housing for a few months. I wasn’t making that much money at the time and I got accepted into a very nice subsidized housing 2-bedroom apartment. It was just like living in a regular market rate apartment. My neighbors were really nice, the property manager kept up with the units and the grounds and it was overall a nice place to live.
When I found a new job that almost tripled the income I was making before, I reported my income and my rent rate skyrocketed. I decided to move because my new rent rate would not differ that much from market rate.
Section 8 Housing
Section 8 Housing is very similar to low income housing where you will only be required to pay a portion of your rent, but with Section 8 you receive a voucher and have more flexibility to choose where you live. The application process for Section 8 is much more detailed and rigorous than with low income housing and it often takes a longer time to get approved for a housing voucher.
Applications are completed by county and you’ll need to apply when your county’s waiting list is open. An applicant can be on the waiting list for Section 8 Housing anywhere from 1 year to 5+ years so it’s a good idea to have a backup plan.
When you get approved for Section 8, you’ll have to take your voucher to a landlord at an apartment, townhouse or single family home that accepts Section 8.
After you live in the county where you were granted your Section 8 voucher for one full year, you’ll be eligible to move out of the county or even out of state if you choose and take your voucher with you.
Again, the amount of financial assistance you receive each month can vary if your income increases or decreases.
The Operation HOPE Home Buyers Program
Operation HOPE helps single moms with lower incomes secure an affordable mortgage through its Home Buyer’s Program. HOPE was established in 1992 and has partnerships with private sector companies, non-profit organizations, schools and government entities.
When you sign up, you’ll be prompted to attend a workshop that provides an overview of the process along with housing counseling to help overcome any issues like debt, bad credit, low savings etc.
Operation HOPE provides the following services to prospective home buyers:
- Loan products from FDIC-insured financial institutions
- FHA loan programs
- Down Payment Assistance programs
- First time home-buying programs for people with low or moderate incomes
- And more!
Shelter Plus Care Program
If you or someone you know is a single mother with a disability, the Shelter Plus Care Program may be a helpful housing option. Recently the Shelter Plus Care Program has been consolidated with the Supportive Housing Program and Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation SRO Program into a single grant program known as the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program.
Under this new grant program, the government intends to help homeless or near homeless and disabled individuals and their families establish stable and affordable housing. Various different types of rental assistance options are offered through the program and applicants get to choose their own housing units.
For more information about this program, check out the HUD Exchange website.
USDA Rural Development Housing Assistance
If residing in a large city has never been your preference, there may be a government program to provide you with housing assistance. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Rural Development has a program to help low-and-moderate-income households the opportunity to own a safe and modest single family home in a rural area.
To be approved you must meet income eligibility requirements, be a U.S. citizen and contact an approved lender. Eligible applicants will have the ability to build, rehabilitate and improve upon a dwelling in an eligible rural area if they wish.
I love how this program lets you pick your house in a sense by utilizing ‘eligible address search’ feature to determine is the property your interest in will qualify for the program. To learn more about how the program works and review eligibility requirements, please check out the USDA Rural Development website.
There is a wide variety of housing help for single moms out there to help you get back on your feet. If you have any questions or feedback about the options listed here, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.