How to Use the HUD Map to Find Affordable Housing

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Artwork: Robin Mead

It is possible to find safe, clean, affordable, disability-accessible housing. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s not possible (you will be told that a LOT).

You do not need to wait five or ten or twenty years. You do need to be very persistent. In some situations, you may need to relocate.

Here’s where you can start looking:

The HUD Map

🌷 Here’s where you can Go to the HUD map to search

🌷 If you live in a town or rural area, the HUD map is so great because it will show you EVERYTHING. If you live in a city, the HUD map is not so great, because it will show you EVERYTHING. It can become confusing and overwhelming quickly.

🌷 If the HUD map doesn’t work for you…

Other Options

🌷 Go to AffordableHousing.com. Make sure to run separate searches for all the zip codes you might be interested in. This site is a great resource and includes many opportunities, but be warned: some of the properties are mislabeled so it may look like something is not Section 8 when it really is. Also, some of the best disability housing will be labeled as “seniors only” or as “family housing.” Also, the list of open Section 8 Waiting Lists Openings is missing many openings.

🌷 You can also Go to this HUD search page. For reasons surpassing understanding, the HUD search page does not include everything on the HUD map. The map has many (many!!) more good housing opportunities.

🌷There are many many more places you can find affordable housing here: A Long, Long, Long List of Places You Can Call if You are Seeking Affordable Disability Housing

Don’t forget: no matter where you are searching, every time you see the words “elderly” write down the name and number! The places marked “elderly” often take younger people with disabilities and are often nicer than other HUD housing.

Broaden Your Horizons

🌸 You may have greater success if you search widely.

🌸 You can press the “plus” or “minus” button to zoom in and out on the map.

🌸 Some HUD apartments are clean, safe, quiet, well-maintained and have VERY low rent. If you find a place like this, it may be worth relocating to a different county or even a different state.

🌸 See For Yourself: Can Affordable Housing Be Nice? (Slide Show)

Inquire About Rent

🌸 Rent will vary. Make sure to inquire at each place you call

🌸 In Section 8 apartments, rent will be 30% of your income. If your disability check is $900, your rent will be $270. It may be even less than $270 if you follow the policies for How to Calculate Rent in HUD, Section 8 and USDA Housing

🌸 Many places no longer use the words “Section 8.” So they won’t say Section 8, even though that is still what they are!

Be Persistent. Very Persistent. 

Here’s everything you can do to make sure you find a nice place:

Section 8 Guide for the Plucky and Disabled

How To Get in Section 8 Housing (Even When the Waiting Lists Are Closed!)

Dandelion Gets Nice, Affordable Housing QUICKLY

What’s On the Map

If you are using the HUD map, and you select “special needs housing.” You won’t be shown everything. If you elect “affordable housing” or “ALL resources” and you will be shown a mix of different options:

🌸 Elderly or disability HUD apartments – These are often very affordable and quite nice.

🌸 Multifamily HUD apartments – These are a mix. Some are good, but many are generic public housing that are not as safe or well maintained. Also, not all are as affordable. The way the HUD site is set up, it’s very difficult to tell the difference between different types of housing housing. You may have to call and ask.

🌸 Low Income Tax Credit apartments – These are often (but not always) nice. Despite the name, some of them are not for actual low income. Some are cheap and some are pricier.

🌸 Group Homes – These are houses where people with disabilities live together and some care may be provided. They are often geared towards mental health or developmental disabilities.

🌸 Housing Agencies – These are local resources where you can call or visit their website to ask what other housing programs they have available.

What Do You Think? 

Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. 

Updated May 2018. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: 

11 thoughts on “How to Use the HUD Map to Find Affordable Housing”

  1. Subsidized housing is also available in rural counties and is funded through the USDA’s Rural Development Rental Assistance program. Many of these projects have shorter wait lists. I got into my current apartment in 3 months because there was a local preference. https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/multi-family-housing-rental-assistance

    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.

    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. There are also housing programs for people who are fleeing domestic violence.

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    1. Thank you so much for this fabulous post Lisa. This will be very helpful.

      I’d love to know more about your experience with usda house. What is the house like? do you like it there? any tips for anyone else applying for USDA?

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      1. The United States Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (USDA) funds several types of housing programs and can also help with loans for home ownership in very rural counties. I have a nice one bedroom apartment in a small rural town. It is well managed, safe and quiet, but health care and other services are limited. Also, the local grocery store doesn’t deliver. The apartment complex is for low-income elderly or disabled single people. It is managed by a non-profit and the local housing authority. It was built with a loan through the USDA and rents are subsidized through the USDA’s Rural Development Rental Assistance program. I pay roughly a third of my income for rent and utilities are included. If you want to find a subsidized apartment in a rural area or find out about their home loan programs you could contact your state’s USDA Rural Development officer at https://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices. Basicly, it is similar to getting an apartment in a HUD funded apartment project, just in a very rural area.

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  2. When you say HUD apartments take 30% of your income as the rent, does that typically include the utilities for the unit too?

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    1. Hi Brian, I believe it does not include utilities in most places. I have seen it mentioned that some HUD places have some type of utility discount or rebate, but I do not know what this is. Hopefully someone else who knows more will come by and see this question.

      For seniors or disabled people, the 30% is after medical expenses, so it is sometimes significantly lower than 30%.

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  3. I would like to know if there are certain risks I need to take into account when I apply to multiple waiting lists. For instance, I have found it next to impossible to actually find much information about any specific place that is a subsidized apartment when it comes to the details of the actual building, such as if it is an old building that does not even have a circuit board within its apartments.Have others found that they can at least somehow preview the interiors of the places they sign up for?

    The other concern I have is as to if I would be able to cancel my application somewhere without incurring any penalty. Either because of a problem like the one explained above, or more importantly because other places will tell me that there is now an opening for me in their building after I have already been accepted into one of the HUD apartments among the many I have signed up for in an attempt to get a home to live in faster.

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    1. Hi Lucia,

      I have never heard of any risks or penalties, but you’d probably need to check with each place you apply if you want to be sure.

      Usually if you get offered a place and turn it down, there are no problems, they just take you off the waiting list, and you can reapply if you want.

      I think they will let you preview a place once it is available for you. If you want to see the inside of an apartment earlier, you can check with the building manager and see if they are able/willing.

      Keep us posted on how it goes! 🙂

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  4. I looked at the map and found lots of places (graphical and list format). As I understand it, I have to contact each and every single one of them separately. How should I begin the conversations with landlords/management?
    Before I waste any time/effort is there any kind of central application I need to do somewhere?

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    1. Hi Brian,

      Good questions. There is no central application that I am aware of. Unfortunately.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the conversation. They get tons of calls every day and won’t remember you. I would just be polite, say I am interested in finding out more about their housing, and would like to ask a few questions.

      You’ll get a lot of dead ends, but if one out of ten calls gives you a good lead that is good! Hope it goes great. 🌷

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