Many people rent their home for flexibility, affordability, and lifestyle choices. According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2019, over 36% of American households rent their home. Over the last five years, rental prices have increased at a rate that is hard to keep up with. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, rental prices are at an all-time high and have affected every part of the country.
While many are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, some renters are struggling with payments and price increases. If you have difficulty paying your rent, there are resources to help you find affordable housing in your area, make payments, and get advice on your options.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program that helps very low-income families to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing. Housing can include single-family homes, townhouses and apartments and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects. If you qualify and are issued a housing voucher, you are responsible for finding a housing unit that the owner agrees to rent under the program. A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the Public Housing Agency (PHA) on behalf of the participant. You are responsible for paying the difference between the rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.
To find local rentals in your state or learn how to apply, check out the Rental Assistance page on the HUD website. This page also has resources on counseling, advice on housing concerns, and information on your rights to fair housing and rights as a tenant.
Have you lost your job or have long term financial issues due to COVID-19? You may qualify for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This U.S. Department of the Treasury program provides funding to states, U.S. territories, local governments, and Indian tribes. These entities use the funds to help eligible households through existing or newly created rental assistance programs. Visit the Emergency Rental Assistance Program page to learn more and you will be directed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau site to find the local program in your area. If you have specific questions about your area or your situation, contact one of the local identified programs.
Are you unsure about your housing situation? Do you need help deciding if you should keep renting or try to afford a mortgage? HUD sponsors the Housing Counseling Assistance Program, which provides housing counseling and advice for free or low cost to citizens. The housing counseling agencies can give advice on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, credit issues and reverse mortgages. Visit the Talk to a Housing Counselor page to find an agency near you. Though some of these services may come at a fee, here are some things to know:
Be careful of agencies not sponsored by HUD that try to charge an unfair amount for their services. Be sure to check out what agencies are endorsed by HUD before committing to payment. Take the Benefits.gov Benefit Finder to find more benefits you may be eligible for and connect to the agency to apply.