How to Find Super Cheap Housing WITHOUT a Housing Voucher

Art: Robin Mead

If you are searching for subsidized housing, you may be surprised to discover that some “low income” housing is pretty expensive. Plus they won’t accept actual low income people!

If you are an actual low income person, the best type of housing to look for is:

  1. HUD Apartments and
  2. USDA Rural Rental Assistance

If you get into one of these types of housing, you do not need a voucher! Your rent will be really cheap no matter what.

Sample Rent

Rent is set to be 30% or income. Let’s say your household income is $800 per month:

  • If landlord pays utilities, your rent would be roughly $240.
  • If you pay utilities, your rent would be roughly $100.

What If I Have No Income?

If you have no income, rent will be $0. They may also mail you a check for utilities. Some housing programs charge a minimum fee of $50/month, but it is sometimes possible to request a hardship waiver.

Tips for Calling

🌷 You can try calling or emailing. You may have to try each place several times to reach someone.

🌷 Some places won’t tell you that they have apartments that are subsidized. When you call, they will just tell you a flat rate rent. It’s helpful to ask “Do you have any apartments that are funded by HUD? Do you have any apartments where rent is set at 30% of income? How can I get on the wait list for just those apartments?”

🌷 If it’s a “senior” building, make sure to ask “Do you accept younger people with disabilities?” Many will accept as long as there is one disabled adult (they may not accept children).

How to Find Places to Contact

Go to the HUD mapIf the HUD map makes your head explode, here’s a few Tricks for Using the HUD Map Without Losing Your Mind

  • ORANGE = Buildings where some or all apartments HUD (super cheap).
  • DARK GREEN = Buildings where all or some apartments are Rural Rental Assistance (super cheap)
  • PURPLE = Buildings that may be more expensive, but it doesn’t hurt to call and ask the rent.
  • YELLOW = Housing Authorities that usually have several buildings that are all HUD apartments. They may also have waiting lists for Housing Vouchers.

Hate The HUD Map?

This is a different option that may leave some things out, but is still good. Go to AffordableHousingOnline:

  • Look for any buildings labeled “subsidized” or “project based section 8” or “usda rental assistance” or “project based vouchers”
  • Some buildings are mislabeled, so if you want to be really thorough, call everywhere and ask if they have any subsidized apartments.
  • Type in your zip code. Then try zip codes in surrounding areas.

Bonus Rent Rules

🌷 Good news: If rent is 30% of income, this means your rent will be the same no matter how many bedrooms are in the apartment. A three bedroom will cost exactly the same as a one bedroom (but they won’t let you move into a three bedroom unless you have the right family size).

🌷 Bad news: Even if your rent is $0 per month, you still have to pay the full deposit for the full value of the apartment. Some buildings will allow you a discounted rate or to pay in installments. Sometimes local nonprofit programs can assist. You may also need to pay deposits to utility companies. Again, sometimes local groups can assist.

🌷 If you want the extreme nitty gritty detail: Exactly How Much Rent Will I Pay?

Learn More

Three Magic Questions When Calling Affordable Housing Buildings

Learn All About the Different Types of Affordable Housing Buildings

Script for Calling Affordable Housing Buildings

Sample Email for Writing Affordable Housing Buildings


🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: Section 8 Guide for the Disabled and Plucky

🌷 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌷 Page Updated: 8/1/19. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.

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

17 thoughts on “How to Find Super Cheap Housing WITHOUT a Housing Voucher”

  1. Can I receive a choice voucher to remain in my own home? Sister rents downstairs, I upstairs. Is that possible? Rent is 1600 dollars.


    1. You would need to apply for a voucher and get approved. To be honest, it can take many years to do this, and a lot of times it won’t work for your current home, but it is possible.


      1. Thanks for this great link.

        I wanted to add, some of these properties are not set to be 30% of income, they are set to be “Affordable.”

        Unfortunately, a lot of affordable housing is out of reach for very low income people, who will automatically be denied.

        Just wanted to mention this so people do not waste time and money on application fees. If someone is very low income, please double check that the property is in fact Setting rent at 30% of income. If they have a different kind of fee structure, they may be too expensive. Thanks again for sharing this.


  2. I like your tip about calling apartment rentals in the area and asking them specifically if they have apartments funded by the HUD when looking for low-income housing. One of my close friends is looking for a cheap apartment to rent since she just recently lost her husband and is now a single mother to three young kids. I’ll share this article with her to guide her in looking for a new home for her family. Thanks!


  3. I like that you recommend calling or email several low-income housing companies to make sure I do wide research and fined the best option. My husband and I want to buy a house for the first time but we want to start with a low-priced one since we are not earning as much money right now. I appreciate you gave us these tips and we´ll definitely start our search soon.


  4. Hi Sleepy Girl! what an awesome creative and informative website- congrats!
    Okay here’s my insight from receiving Sec 8 HCV in San Diego CA. 1. Use EXTENSIONS on expiration deadline by staying in contact with Housing Rep AND REQUESTING. In San Diego you can get 3 extensions giving you about 4-6 month to find apt. 2. When you get your “voucher” become very familiar with “Payment Standard” chart for your area. I found that in that amount of rent my voucher would subsidize was way below the actual rents in San Diego. 3. Learn about “PORTABILITY” – take your “voucher” to new area/ and housing authority. This is what I did to find a great 1 bedroom apt – I “PORTED” to The County of San Diego where the “payment standard” is much higher and meets the area rents. You can find an apt- I did!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Somewhere you made a list of real estate developers that we’re building new properties with AMI at 30% I can’t find that on your website you help me with that I did read it on your website


  6. You are doing an incredible service with this blog. There is so
    much wonderful information here that helps so many. I thank you,
    from the bottom of my heart


  7. I have a friend who is disabled living on SSI and is 60yo.

    She has a Section 8 HCV, and is trying to find a house to rent in a rural/semi-rural area because she has 3 larger elderly dogs, one of which is her service dog (the other 2 belong to her adult kids who live in another state). She has her kid’s dog because the dogs are sick and need special care, and her kids are basically sofa surfing.
    She hasn’t been able to find a landlord who will rent a house to her. She has always managed to find a house in the past, but not anymore.
    The landlord of the house she was living in sold the house to a developer, and withdrew from the Section 8 program, so she can’t stay there.
    She is looking for a 1 bedroom, or a 2 bedroom so she can have a live-in caregiver, but Section is allowing a maximum rent for 1 bedroom of $850. She cannot find anything in that price range. (The LIHTC housing rent is typically in the $950+ range for a 1-bedroom.)
    I am trying to help my friend find housing.
    Any ideas how to find a Section 8 landlord with a house to rent in a rural area? I couldn’t find anything but apartments on the HUD map. All of the rural housing are apartments too.
    Any ideas?


    1. After she puts in the request for her live in aide, most HAs will automatically change the voucher to a 2 bedroom, raising the rent amount.

      If it doesn’t change automatically, she can make an additional request for the bedroom.

      I was under the impression that LIHTC buildings were required to take vouchers? At least for some of their apartments?

      I’m sorry I don’t know about the dogs, that is a tough one. Maybe contacting animal rescue groups to see if anyone can foster until the kids can come get them?

      It’s unusual to use a voucher for a house. Possibly a duplex or townhouse.


      1. p.s. some landlords will allow one service animal plus one pet. or one service animal plus one esa. Three is tough. I hope she is able to find something. 💕


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