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What Is Subsidized Housing? Why Do People Live There? And How Did It All Begin?

Subsidized Housing Projects
Subsidized Housing Residence in New Orleans, Louisiana
Subsidized housing is government funding for housing that enables low- and moderate-income individuals afford a place to live. If an individual or family has income that is withing the guidelines for eligibility, they pay only up to 30 percent of their income for rent and the government program pays the rest, or subsidizes the remaining rent.

Section 8 Housing has been around since 1937 when the United States Housing Act was passed. It is called the Housing Choice Voucher program because it works on a voucher system. It is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is available in most states. Public housing takes the form of apartments, multi-family buildings, and homes. They can be owned by private landlords, non-profit organizations, or even the state. Those owned by the state government are often called public housing. But the purpose is the same, to provide safe, affordable housing for low-income residents.

To qualify, income must be at or below 50 percent of the area median income. In some cases, the income can be as high as 80 percent. They are then sent a voucher that they can present to a participating landlord in order to receive the rental assistance. The amount received is based on income. The voucher system is often on a first come first served basis where applicants are put on a waiting list, and often the wait is long due to the high demand for subsidized housing, particularly in larger cities. Applications are generally available through each city's public housing department.

Many state government web sites will have a list of subsidized housing with pictures of the apartment or houses in each available area. It will often include contact information as well as information on units that are available or units that have an open waiting list where applications are being accepted. As long as applicants qualify for the subsidy, they may remain eligible for subsidized housing indefinitely.

For more information, visit http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/rental_assistance/phprog

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