Housing grants are public and private funds which enable low income families to afford an apartment or a house. Grant funds can be used to purchase a home, buy a rental property to generate income, make renovations on existing properties, or as assistance if an owner is in danger of losing a home through foreclosure.
Housing grants are administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) with the purpose of increasing homeownership rates. In this article, we provide information about housing grants, types and eligibility requirements, how to apply for the benefits and more.
What is a Housing Grant?
People struggling through financial hardship usually find it unthinkable to request a housing loan from private sector lenders. Although fairly expensive, housing remains one of the most basic needs of all Americans. As a result, the United States government has been operating programs which offer housing grants for vulnerable households. Most programs are managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA).
Unlike standard loans, housing grants do not have to be repaid. Usually, the grant money is not provided directly to the family or individual, but given to the landlord instead. Depending on the type and severity of the circumstances, a recipient may be awarded a larger sum of money.
What are the types of available grants and who is eligible?
The federal government has made available two types of housing grants to help low income families. Depending on the circumstances, a family or individual may choose to apply for one particular program. The programs are:
- Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers:
- Transitional Housing Grant Program:
Here is a little known grant provided by the Department of Justice to victims of stalking, sexual assault or domestic violence. The grant is meant to temporarily provide housing while the victim gets back on their feet. This usually includes full payment of rent and utilities and, in most cases, it would cover living expenses as well as legal costs.
Funds from the Transitional Grant Program can also be used to improve or create permanent supportive housing or emergency shelters for people who are chronically homeless.
Local government entities or non-profit organizations are also eligible to receive the grant for building transitional housing facilities. In such cases, grant resources can be used to fund up to 50% of the capital costs related to construction. In FY15, program funding contributed to the development of 150 units in two funded projects in the state.
These vouchers are given to cover part of your rent, and are offered by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department. The beneficiaries include the elderly, low-income families, and households whose primary income earner suffers from some form of disability. Once qualified, the beneficiary will be able to move to a better house or neighborhood which they would not have been able to afford on their income and they will be given vouchers which can be used to pay for part of their rent.
Qualified recipients are not meant to pay more than 30% of their income as rent contribution; their income should be largely focused towards improving their household’s quality of life.
How to apply for government housing grants
There are certain steps that must be followed to successfully apply for a housing grant. To apply for housing grants heed the following:
- The first step should be to visit your local Public Housing Agency (PHA). A quick internet search can help you find the address of the office that’s closest to where you live. The HUD website is also a good place to try and find the list of PHA offices near your town. The personnel working at the office has all the information you need.
- You need to determine if you are eligible to receive the housing grant. The staff at your local PHA will assist you to determine whether you qualify. Remember to ask as many questions as necessary to make sure you understand the requirements.
- You must fill in and submit the Section 8 Housing Voucher application form. Provide as much information as necessary, and make sure the data you are about to deliver is accurate. Request new documents if you believe your current papers are outdated.
- Once you submit your application, the staff will ask you to wait until your request has been processed. The PHA office will inform you about being placed on their waiting list or if your application has been rejected. Stay in touch with the office personnel to remain up to date about your application.
- If your application is successful, the PHA office will assign you the housing voucher, which you will then use to find an affordable property that meets the program’s criteria. Keep in mind that the landlord must be willing to accept the voucher, otherwise the property is not eligible for the subsidy.
To apply for the transitional housing grant program, visit your local office on Violence Against Women and fill the requisite form once your eligibility is confirmed.