Art by Robin Mead
Math by Delphinium
How much rent do you pay if you live in Section 8, HUD Housing, Public Housing, Rural Rental Assistance, or have a Housing Voucher?
The simple answer is: You pay 30% of your income. Your income is $100, you pay $30. Your income is $1,000, you pay $300. Done!
The complicated answer is: The simple answer is not exactly right. It gives you a general idea, but if you want to get an exact figure, keep reading:
Tip for Housing Vouchers
The formula below will show you how much rent you will pay each month. If you are trying to figure out how much rent your voucher will pay, look here instead: How Much Is My Housing Voucher Worth? Which House or Apartment Can I Rent?
How Much Rent You Pay: Step One
Write down your income
Include income for everyone in your household.
Include everything: Work income, disability payments, Tanf, child support, plus anyone who gives you anything or pays for anything on a regular or recurring basis
Take stuff out
Minus everything not countable
Examples of things that might not count: Sporadic income, one-time gifts or money, most student financial aid, some forms of income from children/teens/students, live in aide income, food stamps, many forms of utility assistance, income for disabled people returning to work, etc
Get a yearly number
(Example: $1,000 per month x 12 months = $12,000)
Congrats! You now know your “countable yearly income.” On to the next step…
🔹Minus $400 IF disabled household (head of household, co-head or spouse is disabled)
🔹Minus $480 PER child
🔹Minus daycare expenses… only if needed so parent can work or go to school (for child under 12)
🔹 Minus medical expenses IF head of household is disabled (after 3% of your annual income).
Tip: You can also deduct medical expenses for children and other household members… even if they are not disabled
Congrats! You now know your “annual adjusted income.” On to the next step…
Divide by 12= Monthly adjusted income
(Example: $1,000 x 30% = $300)
Minus utility allowance for any utilities YOU pay (ignore the utilities your landlord pays)
Tip for vouchers: You have to wait until you find a place to rent so that you can see which utilities you pay and which ones the landlord pays. Then you have to get a copy of the utility allowance chart from your Housing Authority. Heres how utility allowances work.
For buildings: ask the property manager how much is deducted for utilities.
Congrats! You now know your “total tenant payment.” THIS IS WHAT YOU PAY
(Sort of. There are a few ways you can sometimes wind up paying more. These are listed below)
Exceptions: More Expensive Housing Programs
The above formula does not apply to everyone who lives in low income housing. It only applies to:
- People with vouchers
- HUD subsidized apartments
- HUD subsidized apartments
- Project-based apartments
- USDA rural rental assistance
If you are in a different type of affordable housing program, you may be paying higher rent. The solution is to look for a subsidized apartment. Here’s where you can find one: How to Find Super Cheap Housing WITHOUT a Housing Voucher
Exceptions: Other Problems
If your rent still seems too high, there may be a different problem. If you can figure out the problem, you might be able to figure out the solution:
🌷 Some housing programs charge a minimum rent – often $25 or $50. This means that even if you have $0 income, you may still be charged a minimum. In some cases, you can request a hardship exemption: Letter Requesting No Minimum Rent
Think They Made a Mistake?
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 think there is a problem, you can ask your worker to meet with you to go over the numbers. Or you can email your worker and state what you think may be incorrect.
You also have the right to appeal if you think your rent is wrong. You can write or email your worker and/or their supervisor stating that you would like to appeal your rent decision and (ideally) write down where you think a mistake was made.
If your income changes, you don’t have to appeal. Just contact your worker and say “I’ve had a change in income and I’d like to request a redetermination on my rent.”
If you continue to have problems: How to Get Help or File Complaints for Housing Problems
🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Affordable Housing Survival Guide
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