How to Live with Other People When You Have a Housing Voucher

15591502_1156186687770266_3255956767698482158_oHow to Live with Other People

Many people think that if you have a voucher, you can only live with immediate family. However, this is not true.  There are several different ways you can live with other people while using your housing voucher:

  1. Live Somewhere Where They Allow a Room Rental
  2. Add Someone to Your Voucher
  3. Apply together
  4. Live In the Same Building
  5. Get Two Vouchers
  6. Add a Disability Live In Aide
  7. Rent Multiple Rooms in a Shared House
  8. Move Somewhere with More Flexible Policies

Special Exceptions for People With Disabilities

If someone in the household is disabled, you may be able to request a special exception to the rules. If you have been told that you cannot live with other people, and that no exceptions are possible, this is not true. You are always allowed to make the request and exceptions are always possible. You can request an exception to any of these policies:

  1. “You cannot add this person to your voucher”
  2. “You cannot rent rooms in a shared house”
  3. “Your guest cannot stay here for that long”
  4. “You cannot rent a place owned by a relative”

Special Exceptions for Survivors of Domestic Violence

If you are a survivor of domestic violence you may also be able to request these same exceptions to the rules listed above.

How to Do It

Below you will find information on how each of these strategies work, and how you can make them work for you:


Live Somewhere Where They Allow Room Rentals

Some Housing Authorities have created special policies to allow you to rent a room instead of an apartment. This sometimes happens in areas where there is little or no available housing, such as some areas of Hawaii.

How this works: You would need to live in (or move to) one of the few areas of the country that has a policy like this.

Good news: The people you live with won’t be added to their voucher. Their income won’t count on your voucher, your share of rent won’t change, and you won’t have to worry about what happens if they break rules. You are just renting a room and have your own voucher.

Bad News: The value of your voucher will go down. It will be prorated. For example: Instead of 100% of a one bedroom payment standard, your voucher will be worth 50% of a two bedroom, or 33% of a three bedroom, or 25% of a four bedroom.


Request a Disability Accommodation for Room Rental

If your housing program does not have a policy allowing room rentals, in some cases you can still request room rental if you or someone in your household is disabled:

If you have a medical need or disability related reason for needing to rent a room not a separate apartment, you can submit this as a reasonable accommodation request. Although this is not a common request, it is possible to get approved in some circumstances. For example: One of our reader’s was approved to rent a room in his parent’s house so that his parents could serve as his caretakers.

How this works: You can submit a reasonable accommodation request letter along with a support letter from your doctor or practitioner, explaining why this housing is the best living situation to meet your disability needs. HUD policy on shared housing: “The Public Housing Authority must permit use of any special housing type if needed as a reasonable accommodation so that the program is readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities in accordance with 24 CFR part 8.” Sample letters can be found here: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters for Housing

Good news: The people you live with won’t be added to their voucher. Their income won’t count on your voucher, your share of rent won’t change, and you won’t have to worry about what happens if they break rules. You are just renting a room and have your own voucher.

Bad News: The value of your voucher will go down. It will be prorated. For example: Instead of 100% of a one bedroom payment standard, your voucher will be worth 50% of a two bedroom, or 33% of a three bedroom, or 25% of a four bedroom.


Add Someone to Your Voucher

Every housing program has different policies about who you can and can’t add to your housing. Spouses and children are always allowed. Other people may or may not be allowed.

How this works: Contact your Housing program to find out who can be added.

Good News: This may cause your number of bedrooms to increase. Or maybe it won’t. Check your housing program’s occupancy policy. If the bedroom size does increase, then you will get a new voucher that can pay the landlord more rent.

Warning: Having other people on your voucher can cause problems. You can be held responsible if they do not pay rent, break any laws, or break lease rules. It is possible to get evicted or lose your voucher based on what other people in the household do. Be careful who you add!

Warning #2: If the person has income, the tenant’s rent will increase.


Disability Accommodation to Add Someone to Your Voucher

If your housing program will not allow you to add the person you wish to live with, in some cases, you can still request to add them, if you or someone in your household is disabled.

You can request an accommodation to add the person to your voucher if you need to live with them for a reason directly related to your disabilities. (Note: If the reason is because they are helping take care of you, it may be better and easier to request to add them as a live-in aide – see below)

Good News: This may cause your number of bedrooms to increase. Or maybe it won’t. Check your housing program’s occupancy policy. If the bedroom size does increase, then you will get a new voucher that can pay the landlord more rent.

Warning: Having other people on your voucher can cause problems. You can be held responsible if they do not pay rent, break any laws, or break lease rules. It is possible to get evicted or lose your voucher based on what other people in the household do. Be careful who you add!

Warning # 2: If the other person has income, all income will be included in rent calculations. Tenant share of rent will go up. (Exception: This does not apply to live in aides)


Add Someone to Be a Live In Aide

If you or someone in your household is disabled:

If you are in need of help in your home, you may qualify to be able to add someone to your household as a live-in aide. You would select who you want your aide to be.

How this works: Your aide will be added to your voucher as an aide. They will not be a tenant on your lease and will not be considered a family member (even if they are related to you). More info on requesting a live in aide: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters for Housing

Rent: Live in aide income is excluded and will not impact the amount you pay each month. In addition, an additional room will be added to your voucher and your voucher will increase.

Meet Jane and Sally: Jane is disabled and was trying to avoid going to a nursing home. Her friend Sally offered to help her. Jane requested that Sally be added to her housing as an aide. Sally was given a room, and now Jane has help in her home.  Meet Jane and Sally


Apply Together

How this works: If you do not already have a voucher and would like to apply, you would need to check the policies at your Housing Authority to see who they will allow to apply together as “family.”

Depending on your circumstances, you may decide to submit two separate applications, or both apply together on one application.

Warning: Some Housing Authorities won’t allow one person’s name to appear on two different applications. If you apply separately, you may wish to not list the other person on your application. You can look into adding them later, if needed.

Warning #2: Having other people on your voucher can cause problems. You can be held responsible if they do not pay rent, break any laws, or break lease rules. Also, if someone else has income, all income will be included in rent calculations.


Live Next Door

Harder way: Both people can apply for their own vouchers. After approval, find a landlord with two open apartments in the same building.

Easier way: Don’t bother with vouchers. Both people can apply for their own apartments in a HUD building. For example, many elderly or disabled buildings only have studios and one bedroom apartments. Two people could each apply for their own apartment. Since HUD rent is based on income, the rent for two people in one apartment is the same as the rent for two people in two apartments.

Creative way: If one person has a voucher and the other doesn’t, look for properties that have a mix of both types of apartments – some that accept vouchers and some that are subsidized by HUD. The rent will be the same either way. Not all buildings have both, many are just one or the other, but some have both and will have separate wait lists. Some low income tax credit building have both kinds.


Get Two Vouchers

According to this HUD policy on shared housingyou may be able to share housing with other people who also have vouchers. We have never seen anyone actually do this, so we do not know how it works. If your Housing Authority does not allow this, you can still request to do it as a reasonable accommodation, if needed for your disability.


Rent a Room In a Family Member’s House

If you or your child is disabled, it may be possible to request an accommodation to rent a room in a family member’s house. For example, move into your parent’s house if needed for your disabilities.

In this case, you would need to make two accommodation requests. The first is to rent a room instead of an apartment (see details above).

The second is if your relative is the homeowner: Rent a Place Owned by a Relative 


Rent Multiple Rooms in a Shared House

You can also use any of the room rental options described above to rent multiple rooms.

Example: You have a two bedroom voucher. You rent two bedrooms in a four bedroom house.


Move Somewhere With More Flexible Policies

Some housing programs are more flexible about who can live with you and others are more strict.

For example, some areas only allow spouses and children to be added to your voucher. Other places will allow anyone you want.

Different programs also have different guidelines about number of bedrooms, live in aides, and other policies that impact who you can live with.

Learn more about moving to a new area; How to Port


Overnight Guests

Most housing programs allow you to have guests, but there may be a limit to how many guests, how many nights, and how often:

Staying Out of Trouble if You Have Overnight Guests


Disability Accommodation for More Nights for Guests

If you or someone in your household is disabled, you may be able to request an exception to guest policies, to have a guest stay with you for a longer length of time: 


Special Exceptions for Survivors of Domestic Violence

If you are a survivor of domestic violence you can request a special exception to the rules. If you have been told that you cannot live with other people, and that no exceptions are possible, this is not true. You are always allowed to make the request and exceptions are always possible. You can request an exception to any of these policies:

  1. “You cannot add this person to your voucher”
  2. “You cannot rent rooms in a shared house”
  3. “Your guest cannot stay here for that long”
  4. “You cannot rent a place owned by a relative”

More about how to make these kinds of requests: Special Laws to Help Domestic Violence Survivors (Vouchers & Low Income Housing)


Thanks for Reading

🌸 This page is part of the free online guide: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters

🌸 Learn More: The Sleepy Girl Affordable Housing Survival Guide

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

🌸 Facebook group for people with disabilities and family members: Disability Support & Self Advocacy in HUD & Section 8 Housing

🌸 Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. Please share this page with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

3 thoughts on “How to Live with Other People When You Have a Housing Voucher”

  1. Very informative and appreciative. I am disabled and my mother had me removed from her housing voucher when I was younger before my disability. She would like to add me back on but when we tried they wanted information I couldn’t provide. What can I do?

    Like

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