How to Calculate Rent in HUD, Section 8 and USDA Housing

Artwork: Robin Mead

These regs apply to HUD apartments, Section 8 Housing Vouchers, USDA apartments and some other subsidized housing. If you live in one of these places, your rent will be 30% of your household income.

If you are disabled or over the age of 62, your rent may be lower than this. Here’s how:

🌸  Salary from a live-in aide will not be counted as part of your household income. (See below for details)

🌸  Rent will be reduced if you have medical expenses, co-pays for doctors, or prescription costs.

🌸  If you have a service animal or emotional support animal, you can include their pet food, vet bills, and other expenses as part of your medical expenses.

🌸  If you have other kinds of health-related expenses (vitamins, supplements, over-the-counter meds, walkers, wheelchairs, etc, etc) these may be considered medical expenses if they are written down by your doctor or listed in your medical records. (Pansy got her rent lowered when her doctor wrote down all her supplements plus her air purifier filters on a prescription pad. She then brought this paper to her housing manager).

If You Have a Live-In Home Aide

🌸  If you are disabled and have a live-in home aide, you usually do not need to list your aide’s name and financial information on the application. Just write “live in aide” and they will let you know if they need more info.

🌸 At some point you will need to show documentation of your medical need for a home aide. Or the housing agency may contact your doctor.

🌸 Make sure your doctor knows your medical needs and is aware to expect this form. If your doctor does not return the form, or your doctor is not aware of your need for a home aide, the request may be denied.

🌸 If your request for a live-in home aide is granted, you may apply to be on the waiting list for a two-bedroom apartment. Your rent will not increase.

Need More Time?

If you have a housing voucher, sometimes it takes time to find the right landlord and right location. You do not need to go to a building that accepts Section 8. Any landlord can accept your voucher if they are willing.

Most agencies have deadlines for how much time you are allowed to find housing, or you can lose your voucher. If you need more time, you can make a disability accommodation request for more time. Make sure to make your request in writing and get a written reply.


🌸 Sally lives with her home aide Jane. Sally’s income is $1,000 per month. Jane’s income is $1,100 per month.

🌸 Sally has $50 per month in food and care expenses for her emotional support animal, plus $50 per month in medical expenses and supplements.

🌸 Sally moves into a one bedroom apartment, but stays on the waiting list for a two bedroom. Eventually Sally and Jane move into a two bedroom.

🌸 Sally’s rent is $300. Jane’s rent is free. Jane is able to provide extra care for Sally in exchange for the free rent.




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