Types of Long-Term Rental Assistance (And How to Get Them)

House for rental assistance blog - pixabayWhen you’re in need of rental assistance, it can be an overwhelming process. Part of the challenge is understanding the different types of assistance and what each can do for you. Here are the types of housing programs you can access and how to get on the appropriate waiting lists.

NOTE: If you are homeless or in danger of losing your housing, please dial 2-1-1. This toll free number is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by people who can refer you to resources for shelters, food, and other basic needs in your area. While they do not provide services, they can connect you with reputable organizations that can help.

Public Housing

Public housing is a development that has rental assistance built into it. Often times these rental housing developments are managed by specific housing authorities. The key thing to remember about applying to public housing is that your rental assistance cannot be taken with you. Since the rental assistance is tied to the apartment you live in, you will lose your assistance if you have to move. Also, depending on your city or town, public housing may not be available.

To apply: If you want to apply to public housing, check with your local housing authority for application and income requirements. A list of all housing authorities in New Hampshire is available on page iii of our Directory of Assisted Housing. (Please note that New Hampshire Housing does not own any properties and therefore does not offer public housing.)

Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)

The Housing Choice Voucher, commonly called Section 8, is portable rental assistance. Program participants receive a voucher that they can then use to rent or purchase affordable housing, providing it meets certain rent requirements and condition standards. This flexibility, combined with the fact that some areas of New Hampshire do not have public housing, is one of the reasons why Section 8 is often the first source that people turn to when they need rental assistance. The downside is that, because of this, waiting lists are often long. To make things a bit more confusing, there are multiple waiting lists in the state.

To apply: You can apply for Section 8 waiting lists through your local housing authority if your city or town offers a program (see page iii of our Directory of Assisted Housing) , or through New Hampshire Housing. Your best plan of action is to be on both waiting lists, as one may be shorter than the other. As of the date of this blog post, the New Hampshire Housing waiting list is 7-9 years for the majority of applicants. The estimated waiting time for a voucher is based on the number of people on the waiting list, the availability of vouchers, and an applicant’s preference status (preferences that could result in shorter waiting times include households where a member is terminally ill, eligible for nursing home level of care, or participating in certain transitional housing programs).

Other Subsidized Housing

Along with public housing and Section 8, there are some housing developments in New Hampshire that offer subsidized units. These developments may not be managed by a housing authority, but due to federal funding programs, they are still able to offer subsidized apartments.

To apply: You can find a list of these apartments in our Directory of Assisted Housing at the link labeled “Income-Based Subsidized Rental Units Only.” These buildings often have waiting lists, but again—they may be shorter than other waiting times for Section 8. If you find a property you are interested in, start by contacting the property manager for application information and income requirements. In addition, New Hampshire Housing maintains a list of vacant, subsidized units to assist clients in their housing search.

Regardless of which program you are applying to, make sure to apply to as many options in your area as possible. Waiting lists vary; for example, you might find that applying for Section 8 through a local housing authority means you receive assistance more quickly than applying through New Hampshire Housing. Apply to any program that might fit your needs, and make sure to maintain contact with those programs until you receive official confirmation of rental assistance and are settled. While it can be a lot of work to maintain more than one application, it can mean a shorter time waiting for the help you need.

Have questions? Call our Assisted Housing Division at (800) 439-7247 or e-mail rentinfo@nhhfa.org.

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