(AscendHealthy.com) – Emergency housing assistance is a lifeline in these tough times. As inflation rises, many individuals and families are still struggling from losses caused or worsened by the ongoing pandemic. Now that stimulus payments have dried up and housing costs continue to rise at alarming rates, many families are displaced or fear losing their housing. Rent and mortgage payments are just not feasible for many low income families in this economically unstable environment.
This has been particularly tough on those with a fixed income and social security recipients. For this crowd, there is still emergency government assistance available.
Congress set aside over $46 billion for emergency housing assistance. This was done through two stimulus programs. By the end of February, around $30 billion had bee pledged or spent, which leaves around $16 billion remaining. There are further special programs available for those living in rural areas and for Indigenous renters.
It’s fortunate that these programs provide an emergency fix, but it’s not a long-term solution. Social security beneficiaries who fall within community or neighborhood income guidelines might still be able to lower monthly housing costs through programs focused more on these long-term challenges.
Emergency Rental Assistance: What to Know
Congress approved $25 billion towards emergency housing assistance in an act referred to as Consolidated Appropriations. They set aside another $21.55 billion for the American Rescue Plan Act. These federal funds were sent to local, state, territorial, and tribal housing agencies so the aid could get to where it was most needed.
This funding is meant to assist Americans from low income families who found themselves falling behind on mortgage payment, rent, or utilities as the result of the pandemic and this difficult time of recovery. Because the moratorium on evictions ended, lawmakers acted to avoid a surge in foreclosures and evictions with this funding.
This program also helped social security recipients continue receiving their full benefit — ensuring that the new emergency benefit did not count against their social security income limits.
Limited funds still remain in these emergency housing assistance funds, and the federal government has started to reallocate money from less needy districts to districts in need of aid. The government anticipates this money will dry up by the end of summer, so those in need of emergency housing assistance should act immediately.
These funds were sent to state and local agencies, so those who wish to apply for the funding need to do so locally through their local housing agency. State agencies dealing with housing services may also be able to help you find the right local agency to visit.
Federal Housing Assistance Programs
With this emergency assistance coming to an end while inflation continues to rise, long-term assistance is a more practical idea for low income recipients and those on fixed incomes. HUD, also known as the Housing and Urban Development agency, offers public housing and Section 8 assistance to renters in need.
HUD provides three main sources of housing assistance, all accessed via housing agencies locally:
- Public housing: The local housing agency owns rental units, which are rented out on a sliding scale based upon the applicant’s income.
- Subsidized housing: Some landlords agree to a relationship with the local housing agency to offer rental units. The renter pays part of the rent and the agency provides the remainder of it as a subsidy.
- Housing vouchers: The Housing Voucher Choice Program (Section 8) allows the renter to find their own housing. The voucher pays the majority of the rent and the renter pays the remainder.
Are you eligible for these programs? That depends upon your income, the community or region in which you live, and how much of your income you spend on housing. It also depends on factors like citizenship and family size. If you’re low income and/or on a fixed income, consider applying today.
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