The rules on this page apply to HUD Housing including Housing Vouchers, Public Housing, and apartments funded by HUD. Most rules also apply to USDA rural rental assistance, and many other forms of low-income housing.
How Much Rent You Pay
🌸 The amount of rent you pay will be calculated to be 30% of your household income.
🌸 So, if your income is $700 per month, then you pay roughly $210 including utilities. Or roughly $100 plus utilities.
🌸 That’s the simple formula. If you want the more exact details: How Much Rent Do I Pay?
🌸 But wait! In certain situations, your share of rent may be even lower than 30%. On the other hand, in some situations, it can be higher! Read on.
🌸 These policies lower the amount that you pay. The landlord will still get the same amount.
25 Policies That Lower Your Share of Rent
One: Help with Moving In
You may face some fees when you first move in, including: copies of birth certificates, state IDs, security deposits, and utility deposits. In some cases there are programs that can assist with this. Learn more here: How to Escape Move-In Fees
Two: One Time or Intermittent Income
Must HUD programs have special rules that they will not count money that is “Temporary, non-recurring, or sporadic”. For example, if someone is giving you money every month, that would count as income and your rent will be higher. But if you inherit a bunch of money at once or if someone gives you a gift from time to time, this won’t count as income and won’t affect your rent. However, if you keep the money, it will start to count as a resource. Please check the rules for your individual Housing Authority.
Three: Automatic Deductions
Your Housing Authority will automatically lower the amount of rent you pay if you have dependents (works out to about $14 per month per dependent). You also get a deduction if you are disabled (again, $14).
Four: Medical Expenses
If you are disabled or elderly, you can deduct medical expenses from rent calculations. Here’s How to Document Medical Expenses
Five: Other Health Expenses
A lot of things count as medical expenses. All kinds of things you never considered: What Counts as a Medical Expense?
Six: Health and Medical for Your Children or Other Household Members
If you are disabled or elderly, you can deduct medical expenses for your children or for others in your household, even if those people are not disabled or elderly. Weird!
Seven: Requests for Extra Bedrooms
In certain situations, you can request additional bedrooms as a disability accommodation. This does not actually change the amount of rent you pay, but it does give you extra bedrooms. If you have a voucher, it also gives you a larger voucher for a higher amount. Learn more about How to Request an Additional Bedroom
Eight: Utility Allowance
If utilities are not included in your lease, you will automatically get a utility allowance. This will lower the amount of rent you pay somewhat (maybe not enough to cover all your actual utility bills, though). Learn more about How Payment Standards Work
Nine: Internet Essentials
Internet Essentials offer $10/month internet for people who live in Section 8 or some other forms of HUD housing. It is exactly what it says it is: $10 and no strings attached.
Ten: Other Internet Programs
If internet essentials is not in your area, check out AT&T Access and ConnectAll. Here’s a list of other programs offering discounted internet and here’s another great article on How to Get $5 Internet.
If you can’t sign up because you are already a customer, don’t give up hope, look here: $10 Internet & The 90 Day Waiting Period
Eleven: Live-in Aides
If you are disabled and need help, a live-in aide can live with you. Your aide will not pay rent and their income will not be included in rent calculations. How to Get a Live-In Aide
Twelve: Live-in Aides & Bedrooms
You may request an additional bedroom for your aide. In most cases, this is given automatically when the aide is approved. The amount of rent you pay will not change.
Thirteen: Live-in Aides & Other Programs
If you have a live in aide, there are many other special rules that can help you. There are special regulations for utilities, food stamps, taxes, and more. Ten Secrets for People with Live-In Aides
Fourteen: Other Utility Programs
Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can lower your utility bills and will not impact your rent. Liheap is sometimes available even if the utilities are included in your rent. Other types of utility assistance (not Liheap) may count as income. Find out more about utility programs on this page: How to Be Poor in America
Fifteen: PASS Plans
If you are receiving SSI or SSDI and you participate in a PASS plan, your portion of the rent may be much lower. PASS plans can be used by people who are working, or people going to school with a work-related goal, with the goal of transition to full-time work and off benefits.
Sixteen: Student Financial Aid
Student loans do not count. Scholarships amounts used just for tuition do not count. Other types of financial aid counts in some circumstances and not others. Income regulations. In some housing programs, going to school part time is allowed, but full time would could cause someone to be ineligible for housing.
Earnings from children under age 18 do not count.
Earnings from children age 18+ may not count, if child is full time student.
Child care expenses can be excluded from income if the child care allows a family member to do any of the following: work, look for work, participate in training or education.
Loans do not count as income. This includes student financial aid, loans from banks, and personal loans from family or friends (with a valid, signed loan agreement before any money is exchanged)
Nineteen: Special Program for Working
If someone in your household is working, your portion of the rent can be much lower if you participate in a self-sufficiency programs.
Twenty: Another Special Program for Working
If you are you start earning more money through work, there is a special program that can keep your rent from increasing. Earned Income Disallowance.
This program is available to people who were previously unemployed, or to people who are participating in a job training or self-sufficiency program, or to people who received TANF. For public housing, anyone can participate in this program. For housing vouchers and other HUD programs, the person working must be someone with disabilities.
Twenty Two: Increased Utility Allowance
If you have a disability-related need for higher a higher utility allowance, you can request this as a disability accommodation. This will lower your portion of the rent. How to Request Disability Accommodations
Twenty Three: Animals
If you have a service animal, or an emotional support animal, in most cases, you cannot be charged pet fees or pet deposits: Sample Letters and Guides (Assistance Animals).
Twenty Four: Gifts and Fundraising
If someone is giving you gifts or paying your bills, this may or may not count as income for HUD. Gift Rules for HUD Housing
Twenty Five: Other Kinds of Income
HUD has many other income exclusions, including Food Stamps, Liheap Utility Assistance, Americorp Payments, and a long list of (mostly obscure) other programs. Here’s a list of other things that don’t count as income.
Twenty Six: Minimum Rent
Some buildings charge a minimum rent – often $25 or $50. Even if you have no income, you may still be charged a minimum, or it may be deducted from your utility allowance. In some cases, you can request a hardship exemption: Letter Requesting No Minimum Rent
Special Rules for Assets
Your assets will also raise your rent. But only a little! The HUD rules for assets are pretty generous. Here’s how it works:
🌸 HUD will count 3% of your assets as income. Then they will apply the rule counting 30%. Then they divide your annual income by 12 months.
🌸 Let’s take a look: You have $10,000 in assets. HUD counts 3% = $300 in income. Then counts 30% of income = $90. Divide by 12 months = Your rent raises $7 per month.
What Counts as an Asset?
🌸 Some Housing Authorities don’t count all your assets. For example, they might not count the first $10,000. Check the rules for your local program.
🌸 Some assets are automatically excluded according to the HUD asset rules, such as personal jewelry, cars, furniture and certain types of retirement accounts.
🌸 Special Needs Trusts: According to HUD Regulations, funds in a Special Needs Trust are not counted as income or assets in most cases. However, some Housing Authorities have set up their own (evil) rules, counting them as income. Some tenants have taken their Housing Authorities to court over these rules (and won!)
🌸 ABLE Accounts – Special Accounts for people who first became disabled before age 26. Do not count as income or assets.
Rent Above 30%
There are a few situations where the rent you pay might be more than 30% of your income:
🌸 You have assets that are raising the amount you pay.
🌸 You couldn’t find a place within the price range of your voucher, so you chose a more expensive apartment and the Housing Authority is allowing you to pay the extra.
🌸 Your landlord raised your rent while you were living there, and your Housing Authority agreed to let you stay if you paid more.
🌸 Someone moved out of your household and you now have more bedrooms in your apartment then on your voucher.
🌸 You are in a Moving to Work Housing Authority These Housing Authorities do not follow the same rules written above.
🌸 If you want more details on how your rent was calculated, try requesting a copy of your Family Report. Some Housing Authorities will automatically send this to you each year.
🌸 If you continue to have problems: How to Get Help or File Complaints for Housing Problems
🌸 If you have a Housing Choice Voucher, the amount of rent you pay will be different than the amount of rent your landlord receives. Take a look here: How High Can the Rent Be if I Have a Housing Voucher?
🌸 How does everything above work when you put it all together? Meet Jane and Sally (Section 8 Rent Example)
🌸 Income Inclusions & Exclusions for Vouchers (HUD policy)
🌸 Calculating Income and Rent for Vouchers (starting on page 13)
Updated February 2019. 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: