How to Find Housing that is Both Cheap & Good

Artwork: Rosie Fusco

There are a lot of housing opportunities out there for people who are low-income or living on disability. Some of them are not easy to find.

You may have to be creative and open-minded and willing to think outside the box. You may have to wait some time, travel some distance, be patient or be persistent. Keep at it. There is a good home out there for you.

Cheap & Good #1

From what I have been told, Section 8  Housing Vouchers are the cheapest and best housing program. Get on the waiting list and be prepared to follow a million rules and wait forever. Some day you will be happy you did.

Cheap & Good #2

HUD housing is also supposed to be cheap and good.

Cheap & Good #3

Public housing is also supposed to be cheap. No promises on the good part.

Cheap & Good #4

USDA Rural Development has affordable apartments available for people who are low income and wish to live in rural areas.

Cheap & Good #5

Volunteers of America offers affordable housing apartments in various locations.

Cheap & Good #6

Most state housing authorities offer reduced rent housing for people who are low income. Contact your state housing authority for a list of what is available.

Cheap & Good #7

Many communities have nonprofit programs that help low-income families buy or rent houses. Dial 2-1-1 on your phone and ask what is available.

Cheap & Good #8

If you have a mental health diagnosis and history of homelessness, many Supportive Housing programs are great! I can’t seem to find any kind of national link, so I don’t know what to tell you here. Try Googling the name of your state or city and the words “Supportive Housing” or “Supported Housing.” Also, look for programs called “Housing First.”

Cheap & Good #9

If your condition is severe and you are unable to care for yourself, Medicaid provides nursing home care in every state. You do not need to be on Medicaid right now. Even if you do not qualify for regular Medicaid, you may still qualify for this. Quality of state nursing homes will vary. Some private homes set aside a certain number of “Medicaid beds” and these will often be nicer. This does not have to be a permanent move.

If your condition is severe, but you do not need 24-hour care, Medicaid provides Assisted Living housing in some states. Again, you do not need to be on Medicaid now to qualify.

Cheap & Good #10

Actually, cheap and GREAT. If you are community minded, there are many groovy, interesting, creative communities out there of every size, shape and flavor – including eco-villages, communes, land trusts, cooperative houses, collective farms, spiritual communities, and many more. Learn more about Intentional Communities.

Cheap & Good #11

Most people on disability don’t live alone. Unless you are in a really good housing program, it’s usually just not realistic. I’ve had good success living with housemates and have met some wonderful this way. I find it takes some time and care to find the right people who are really a good match. How to Find Wonderful Housemates & Caregivers

Sleepy Girl Housing Tips

Housing tip # 1:

Attorney Ken Casanova has written this excellent article on how these different housing programs work along with info on how to apply.

Housing tip # 2:

Some housing programs for low-income seniors will also allow people with disabilities or people who are almost seniors. They don’t tell you this. You have to call and ask. Housing programs for seniors and people with disabilities are often nicer than general public assistance housing.

Housing tip # 3:

Many of the programs above have waiting lists. Long waiting lists. Get on as many as you can. Get on some in different cities, counties or states. Get in wherever you can, and then you can start to upgrade as others open up. I know one woman who waited fifteen years. She’s got a great place now though!

Housing tip # 4:

Try getting on waiting lists in other areas. It can take decades to get housing in some areas, and just a few days in others. I’ve met people in New York City and Chicago who got shut out of waiting lists for many years. On the other hand, I met two different people in Albuquerque who got into two different very nice housing programs with no waiting lists at all! Waiting lists in rural or isolated areas may be much shorter than big cities.

Housing tip # 5:

Sometimes waiting lists are closed. Especially for Section 8. If the waiting lists are all closed, don’t give up hope, just get scrappy. Keep calling. They will open eventually, and then close again. Climb through the window in the moment you can.

Housing tip #6:

Some areas have more than one agency that offers Section 8 vouchers. Make sure to get on all the waiting lists. There are also special Section 8 Housing Vouchers set aside just for people with disabilities. Ask if this is available in your area.

Housing tip #7

If you are on SSI, it’s important to learn the SSI housing regs and make sure you are paying the right amount of rent.

Housing tip #8

Some people avoid Section 8 because they think they will have to live in a Section 8 Housing Project. No, no, no. Almost any landlord can accept Section 8. You just have to talk them into it.

Housing tip #9

I had so many tips on How to Find Wonderful Housemates & Caregivers that I had to create a whole separate page just for that topic.

Housing tip # 10

There are articles on Electromagnetic Free communities here and here.

Housing tip # 11

A list of housing for Multiple Chemical Sensitivities is here and here and a website about tiny houses for people with chemical sensitivities is here.

Housing tip #12

There are several Facebook groups for people seeking Spoonie roommates: here’s one for CFS/ME/Lyme/Fibro and Invisible Illnesses, here’s one for Environmental Illness and here’s another one for  Environmental Illness and here’s one for Lyme Disease. This is the Facebook page for DFEND, is a new nonprofit group with a goal of creating housing where patients with ME and other chronic illnesses could live in non-toxic, quiet, healing environments.

Housing tip # 13

If you are unable to care for yourself, check out: How To Be Homebound. You may be able to find a way to get a caregiver, which can give you more options for ways to live.

Housing tip # 14

If you can’t get into  housing because you have pets. Many housing programs will allow pets with a doctor’s letter stating that this is a disability service animal or a psychiatric service animal or an emotional support animal. (No joke: I just read a story about a woman in California who got to keep her psychiatric pig)

4 thoughts on “How to Find Housing that is Both Cheap & Good”

  1. This is amazing!! I am gonna send myself this link so that I can pore over every aspect. I have so much to learn. You may have just saved my life. I mean it.


  2. This is really great info, thank you so much!

    I do have to expand on housing tip #14 though. (This info is for the US only; it differs in other countries and even your local laws in the US may vary slightly from federal law so you go with what offers more protection).
    Yes, service dogs and emotional support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act and therefore if you are in a housing situation where it applies, you can ask for reasonable accommodations and generally that allows you to have the SD or ESA without paying any sort of pet deposit, regardless of the pet-friendly status of your residence (because they aren’t considered pets).
    This is not just a loophole to keep your animals though! If you want to pursue this, you need to know what they are, what the laws are, and how to do it right.
    – ESAs can be basically any animal. They must be “prescribed” by your doctor as something that supports you with your illness/disability. They do not have to have special training, they are only there to offer love, support, and a reason to wake up in the morning. They have protection for housing and flying in planes, but that’s all, no public access to places that are not otherwise pet-friendly (unless you personally receive special permission or your local laws allow for it).
    – Service animals are dogs or sometimes miniature horses (unless local laws allow for other animals, but then their protection is only valid in that location). They MUST be specially, individually trained to perform a task or work that directly mitigates their handler’s disability. In public they must be well trained enough to be under their handler’s control, not disruptive, not aggressive, housebroken, etc. They are protected for housing, flying, and can accompany their handler almost anywhere that the general public can go (exceptions being food prep areas, sterile areas, places of worship, etc).
    I suggest looking at for more information. Again, yes, ESAs and SDs are absolutely wonderful and can completely turn around a disabled person’s life for the better. It is fantastic that we have these laws in place to allow them to exist. But please, learn the laws and your rights and do it correctly. It harms the entire community when people abuse the system.


    1. Stina,

      Thank you for this wonderful comment and all of this great information. Would you have any interest in writing a guest post about your experience having a service animal? It could include everything you wrote above, plus anything you would like to add about your own experience and any tips you have for others (Can be anonymous)


      1. Hi! I am so sorry for my late response! If you’re still interested, yes, I’d be happy to contribute to a post about service dogs. I don’t have my SD yet (early next year, fingers crossed) so while I’ve made a point to learn as much as possible, I don’t have first-person experience. But I can reach out to some current handlers I know who have been through the process of program dogs, requesting accommodations, etc and see if they would collaborate.

        If you’d like to email me (hellostinab [at] gmail) with any guidelines/thoughts/questions I’ll do my best to get on it in a more timely manor!


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