The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers several programs through their Office of Affordable Housing in an effort to make affordable housing an option for those who are in the low to moderate income range. To apply for a program through HUD, you must meet specific requirements and follow guidelines for each of the programs. Be aware that each state administers their own program for processing HUD applications so it is best to check with your state office before applying for assistance.
HUD Assistance for Homebuyers
For those who are first-time homebuyers, you can receive free assistance as well as housing counseling services through HUD. Approved housing counseling agencies sponsored by HUD offer free advice on topics such as:
- Affordable mortgages
- Rights as a borrower
- Home economics
Before you call a counselor, be sure to have the following information on hand that will be needed for your paperwork:
- Your monthly mortgage statement
- Information on home equity lines or a second mortgage
- Credit card account balances
- Balances on student loans or car loans
- Most recent tax return
- Recent pay stubs
- Savings account statement
- A list of all your assets
- Reason you need assistance (loss of job, illness, divorce, etc.)
Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
This federal government program provides assistance to very low-income families, elderly, and disabled so they can afford quality housing. Those participating in the Section 8 program are free to pick their own housing as long as it meets the program's requirements and is not limited to subsidized housing projects units. This includes:
- Single family homes
HUD contracts with housing agencies to offer Section 8 voucher assistance to very low-income households. The Rental Voucher Program pays landlords the difference between 30 percent of an applicant's household income and the standard payment (usually 80-100 percent of fair market rent). The applicant may choose a unit with a higher rent and pay the landlord the difference. There are approximately 1.4 million households in the United States taking advantage of the Section 8 programs. To find out more, contact your local public housing agency or the Office of Public Housing within your local HUD office.
Section 8 was modified recently in order to allow the program to help pay mortgage payments instead of just assisting with rent payments. There are a number of qualifying criteria, such as qualifying household incomes and continuous employment for at least one year (except for disabled or elderly persons) in order to be eligible for a Homeownership Voucher.
Contact your local Public Housing Agency. You will need to provide the following information:
- Your family's income
- Family composition
The Public Housing Agency will verify all information with employers, banks and other agencies to determine your eligibility as well as the amount of assistance you will receive.
Once you are determined eligible, your name will be placed on a waiting list. When you are at the top of the list, you will be contacted and issued a voucher.
Affordable Housing Programs
There are two separate HUD programs that can help families find safe and affordable housing. HUD does not make grants directly to individuals but provides funds to state and local government as well as to nonprofit organizations.
Home Investments Partnerships Program (HOME)
HOME is a program that provides housing assistance in the form of affordable housing to individuals who are in the low to middle income range. HUD makes grants to states and local governments that are participating jurisdictions (PJs), which have met the government's qualifying criteria. These PJs then use the grants to fund their various housing programs.
The programs are intended to increase the amount of housing available to low and very low income families. If you are a jurisdiction that is interested in this program, be sure to have a current and approved Consolidated Plan that includes an action plan on using the funds. Jurisdictions must formally notify HUD on their intent to participate in HOME.
Eligible activities under the HOME program include:
- Providing funds for home purchase
- Providing rehabilitation financing assistance to eligible homeowners and new homebuyers
- Building or rehabilitating housing for rent or ownership
In addition, funding may be given for various other expenses that are related to developing housing that is considered non-luxury. This includes acquiring home sites or demolishing dilapidating housing in order to make way for HOME developments. The program will also help with relocation expenses.
If you need assistance with a down payment, you can contact your local home mortgage lender to discuss HOME eligibility and to find out how to apply in your specific state. In order to be eligible for this assistance, you must be a first-time homebuyer who is seeking a single-family house.
Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP)
SHOP offers direct funding to non-profit organizations so they can purchase home sites and improve infrastructure necessary to create homeownership programs for low-income families. SHOP assistance is used primarily for regional and national non-profit organizations that have experience in utilizing homebuyer and volunteer workers for building homes.
SHOP grantees include non-profits such as:
- Habitat for Humanity
- Housing Assistance Council
- ACORN Housing Corporation
- PPEP Microbusiness and Housing Development Corporation
- Community Frameworks
To apply, organizations must have completed a minimum of 30 units of self-help homeownership housing within the last 24 months. Homebuyers who want to participate in SHOP must apply through a current SHOP grantee or one of their affiliates. Applications are accepted through the e-grant portal.
Do Your Research
If you are planning to apply for HUD assistance, it is important to do your research and collect any necessary documentation that you will need when you apply. You should be prepared to document your application with a recent paycheck stub, the latest year's tax return and birth certificates for those seeking housing assistance. You can direct any questions or concerns to a local state office representative who will be able to provide you with more information.