For people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, many HUD houses offer apartments for rent that are cheap, safe, clean, and well maintained. HUD housing can be worth waiting for and worth moving for. Here’s how to find a good one.
WHERE DO I FIND AND AN APARTMENT?
Here’s a bunch of tips on how to do a search to find great HUD houses.
HOW MUCH IS THE RENT?
The rent regulations are different in different HUD apartments. Most often, rent is 30% of the household income. For example, if you live alone and your disability check is $1,000 per month, then your rent will be $300.
There are certain regulations that can lower someone’s rent to be less than 30%. Please take a look at How to Calculate Rent in HUD Housing
WHAT IF I HAVE A HOME AIDE?
A home aide can live with you for free. Please take a look at the link above to learn more about how to calculate rent if living with a home aide.
WHERE IS IT LOCATED?
HUD houses are everywhere in the US, as far as I know.
ARE THEY SAFE? ARE THEY NICE?
The HUD apartments designated for “disability” or “elderly” are often been nice, safe, clean, quiet and located in nice residential neighborhoods. They are generally one-bedroom apartments.
You do not need to be on disability to qualify. Your doctor can sign a letter. You also do not need to be that old – many HUD houses are 55+.
The HUD apartments I have seen for “family” are a mix. Some are nice, many are general public housing projects, which may not be as nice.
WHAT IF I’M NOT A SENIOR?
Call all the HUD apartments marked as “elderly” and ask if they will accept a younger person with dis abilities. The answer is often yes.
HOW BIG ARE THEY?
Usually between ten and one hundred apartments. Most apartments are one bedrooms or efficiencies, though some buildings have larger apartments.
IS THIS THE SAME AS SECTION 8 HOUSING VOUCERS?
Section 8 Housing Vouchers is a different program also run by HUD. Section 8 is also a really great program. Look here if you want to find out more about Section 8. The main difference is that HUD apartments are located in specific buildings. Section 8 vouchers can be used anywhere…. as long as you can convince the landlord to accept the voucher. The other big difference is that it is generally easy to get on a HUD waiting list. Section 8 waiting lists are often closed and you have to be much more persistent.
HOW LONG IS THE WAITING LIST?
The shortest I have seen is one week. Longest I have seen is 3-5 years. However, I suspect that in some place it is longer. Call everywhere!! Eventually you will find some places that have shorter lists. Get on as many waiting lists as you can. You can always start living at one HUD apartment and then upgrade to a better one when your name comes to the top of the list.
Try looking in surrounding counties. If you restrict yourself to just one small area you may find it difficult or impossible to find housing, or the wait list may be very long.
DO THEY RUN BACKGROUND CHECKS?
It depends on the landlord. Some landlords require background checks and credit checks. Some will not care if you have medical debt and may only be looking to see that you don’t owe money to past landlords. Some will only care about certain types of felonies and may not care about other crimes. Some may not run background and credit checks at all.
WHO OWNS AND RUNS THE HUD APARTMENTS?
They are usually run by private landlords or property management agencies.
WHAT IF I HAVE ASSETS?
You are allowed to have assets. As far as I know, they will count a small portion of your assets as income. Unless you are really rich, it usually will not make an enormous difference in your rent.
DO THEY ACCEPT PETS?
Usually they will not except pets but they will accept emotional support animals and/or service animals for people with disabilities. An emotional support animal requires a letter from your doctor. A service animal requires training. There are many online sites with information on support animals. Don’t be fooled by sites that tell you to pay them money to “certify” your animal. There is no legal certification for support and service animals.
WHAT IF I NEED TWO BEDROOMS
If you need two bedrooms, you can apply to be on the waiting list for a two bedroom. There are less two bedrooms available, and there may be a much longer waiting list.
Your rent will be the same for a one bedroom or a two bedroom.
Medical reasons – If you live alone and need a second bedroom for medical reasons, your doctor will need to document this. Your rent will not change.
Live In Aide – If you live alone and need a second bedroom for a live-in aide, your doctor will need to document this. Your rent will not change.
Other Household Members – If you live with family members and need a second bedroom to accommodate your family, you can apply for a two bedroom. HUD will count 30% of income from all family members. The size of the apartment does not affect the rent. Different HUD programs have different rules for what they consider “Family”.
No reason – If you live alone and have no reason for requested an additional bedroom, I assume you will not be added to the waiting list. Though I don’t know these regs.
TIPS FROM READERS
“In both HUD and USDA projects all costs associated with your service or emotional support animal and medical expenses, along with income, are used to determine your monthly rent.” – Lisa Davis
“Some HUD housing programs are for people experiencing homelessness. Many people don’t realize they meet HUD’s definition of homelessness. If you are in a housing situation that is expected to last less than 10 days, or doubled up (couch surfing) you may meet HUD’s definition of homelessness, which opens up more options for housing. Many people erroneously think you have to be out on the streets or in a shelter to be considered homeless.” – Pansy
More Housing Options
If you know more about HUD housing, please share your ideas, tips, and experiences below.