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What is Subsidized Housing for Disabled and Elderly Individuals and How Does it Work?

written by: MsConnie•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 5/26/2010

This piece briefly summarizes what subsidized housing is and the options for disabled and elderly individuals. Also provided is general information on how subsidized housing works and the qualifying criteria that must be met.

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    What is Subsidized Housing for Disabled and Elderly Individuals and How Do They Qualify?

    To know what is subsidized housing for disabled and elderly individuals is to first learn what subsidized housing is and how it works. Subsidized housing is housing partially funded by the federal government in order to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals or families, the disabled, handicapped and elderly. Subsidized housing began with the passage of the United States Housing Act of 1937, which provided for government-sponsored subsidies to be paid to local housing authorities. The most well-known subsidized housing program is the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as the Section 8 program.

    Disabled and elderly applicants for subsidized housing may get priority status depending on the state where they reside. However, the program-qualifying criteria are the same across the board. A household’s income must fall below 50% of the area’s median income level in order to qualify. Qualifying incomes do vary state-wide, so it is important to check state guidelines prior to applying for subsidized housing. Disabled and elderly individuals often always qualify because they are most likely to receive Social Security, Disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and in many cases a pension.

    The application process for subsidized housing is a bit tedious but not difficult. Applicants should first contact the local public housing authority in their area to find out when and where applications are being accepted, or if they are taking applications at all. Housing authorities nationwide receive a large volume of subsidized housing applicants, resulting in a long waiting list that can stretch for months or even years. The housing authorities will then close the list and stop accepting applications. Applicants put on a waiting list are notified once subsidized housing becomes available. An applicant may also search for a house or apartment on their own, targeting landlords who will rent to Section 8 tenants. Landlords are not required by law to rent to potential Section 8 tenants, but many do so because of the potential for a dependable monthly income. The prospective rent or mortgage must not be more than 30% of the household income. Section 8 pays any amount over that up to a limit established by the program’s guidelines, and no more than the Fair Market Rent for the area.

    Once an applicant finds a place, they must notify their local housing authority. The housing authority arranges an inspection of the property to make sure it meets program requirements such as safety, structural appearance, sanitary conditions, accessibility and any other criteria. Should the apartment or house require modifications, the landlord is notified and given a time frame to complete the modifications prior to a second inspection. Once the property meets all requirements, the local housing authority draws up a contract with the landlord to pay a portion of the rent on the tenant's behalf.

    Tenants who receive subsidized housing must periodically re-certify their eligibility for subsidized housing by providing the housing authority with information regarding current income status, changes in the household and any other pertinent information that could affect eligibility.

    Sources:

    http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/2017119

    http://www.affordablehousingonline.com/section8housing.asp

    http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/seniors/index.cfm