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.

Rental Resources: Finding Housing, Coping with Waiting Lists, and More

If you’ve found yourself in the position of needing assistance with your rent, whether for the short-term or the long-term, you probably have had your fair share of frustrations. In many cases, demand for rental assistance (especially long-term assistance in the form of Housing Choice Vouchers) far outpaces the supply of funding that is available. We’ve compiled this list of resources to help you navigate your options and get on the right waiting lists so you can find what you need.

Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)

More than one housing authority across the state offers Housing Choice Vouchers. You can check with your local city or town housing authority to see if they offer Housing Choice Vouchers. New Hampshire Housing also offers a Housing Choice Voucher Program, but currently the waiting list is 6-8 years. Unfortunately, there is not enough money to fund all people who need assistance, and the amount of HUD funds we have received does not allow us to add people to the program at this time. However, our waiting list is still open. Application and eligibility information are available on our website.

Emergency Assistance

If you are in a position where you are at risk of losing your rental housing, local Community Action Agencies may be able to offer some short-term help. Each Community Action Agency has a Homeless Outreach Worker who assists with rapid re-housing and homeless prevention. There are some guidelines for their services: you must live in New Hampshire, you cannot be receiving Section 8 assistance or living in public housing, your income must meet their guidelines, and you must agree to work with a housing stability case manager for six months after the end of the assistance period. We have more information on our website, or you can dial 2-1-1 to get the phone number of the Community Action Agency nearest you.

Managing Your Application While on Waiting Lists

Remember that you can apply to more than one program at one time; in fact, our staff often recommends this since one program may have a shorter waiting period than another one. Regardless of where you apply for Section 8, it is important to keep your contact information current. Losing contact with a housing authority may mean losing your spot on a waiting list.

If you are on New Hampshire Housing’s waiting list, you can contact our office at (800) 439-7247 to check the status of your application. If you need to update your information, you can call, email rentinfo@nhhfa.org, or send the update via mail to New Hampshire Housing, P.O. Box 5087, Manchester, NH 03108.

Resources While You Wait

If you find yourself on a long waiting list, there are other resources you can investigate while you wait.

  • Dial 2-1-1. 2-1-1 is a toll-free number than you can dial 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to speak with someone about resources available in New Hampshire. Staff can then provide you contact information for agencies that offer health services, utility assistance, housing, homeless services, and other basic needs. Please note this is a resource line and not a direct service agency. There is also a searchable directory available on their website.
  • Check our Vacant Unit List. Our vacant unit list is updated regularly with both market-rate units that accept Housing Choice Vouchers and subsidized units. If you find a property you are interested in, you can contact the property owner directly.
  • Check the Directory of Assisted Housing. New Hampshire Housing also maintains a list of rental properties throughout the state, many of which offer income-based rents. Click here and download the copy labeled “Directory of Assisted Housing – Income-based Units Only” for the best results. If you find a property you are interested in, you can contact the property management company for application information. Please note that these properties may or may not have waiting lists and are not owned or managed by New Hampshire Housing.

If you have questions about rental assistance, our staff is available to help. You can reach us at (800) 439-7247 or rentinfo@nhhfa.org.

Housing Vouchers for Veterans Available Through New Hampshire Housing

Photo by Woody Hibbard. Licensed by Creative Commons. https://flic.kr/p/aeu961

Photo by Woody Hibbard. Licensed by Creative Commons. https://flic.kr/p/aeu961

Vouchers from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will provide rental assistance to 25 additional veterans

New Hampshire has received a boost in addressing homelessness among veterans. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that New Hampshire Housing will receive an additional 25 Housing Choice Vouchers to use as part of the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program. VASH combines rental assistance for homeless veterans with clinical care and supportive services through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

These Housing Choice Vouchers will provide critical, long-term sources of rental assistance so homeless veterans can regain stability and self-sufficiency. Robert Iverson Jr., a local veteran, has felt the impact of the program first hand. After suffering an injury on the job in 2008, he was unable to work and became homeless. After spending months with nowhere to go, he was connected with the VASH program in 2009. He now has a place to call home.

“The impact is huge,” Iverson said of the program. “The VA and the housing team are behind you.”

“Our state has seen an increase in rental costs over the past few years, and resources like rental assistance are becoming more critical, especially for homeless veterans,” said Dean Christon, Executive Director of New Hampshire Housing. “These additional VASH vouchers from HUD will provide homeless veterans with the housing they need to be able to rebuild their lives.”

Homeless veterans can dial 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) to speak to a trained VA responder, connect with the nearest VA facility and find out more about VASH. The hotline is free and you do not need to be registered or enrolled in VA healthcare to use the service. More information about services for homeless veterans through the VA can be found at www.manchester.va.gov.

Navigating Rental Assistance

If you need help with your rent, finding assistance can be a confusing process. Many programs have waiting lists, and it can be difficult to distinguish among the different types of help available. Here is some information to help you find the best type of assistance for you, and to find ways to obtain help sooner.

Long Term vs. Short Term

If you regularly struggle to pay rent, you will likely need long-term rental assistance in the form of Housing Choice Vouchers, commonly called Section 8, or rent-assisted housing (we talk more about these options below). If your situation is short-term or if you need help with other housing-related costs besides rent, you can contact your local Community Action Agency, which can offer security deposit, utility, and other short-term assistance programs. You can also check with your town or city office to see what types of programs may be available.

Section 8 Vouchers vs. Rent-Assisted Properties

The key difference between Section 8 vouchers and rent-assisted housing is that you can take Section 8 vouchers with you, while rent-assisted housing is specific to the apartment or complex you live in. For example, if you have a Section 8 voucher and you decide to move, you can take your voucher with you and continue to receive assistance. If you live in rent-assisted housing and decide to move, your assistance does not come with you since the assistance is specific to that apartment. Both types of assistance are likely to have waiting lists. Currently, New Hampshire Housing’s waiting list for Section 8 vouchers is 6-8 years long.

Coping with Waiting Lists

Unfortunately, there is no one “master” waiting list for Section 8 or rent-assisted properties. Although New Hampshire Housing offers Section 8 vouchers statewide, we do not oversee other housing authorities, and our Section 8 waiting list isn’t the same as other housing authorities’ waiting lists. If you are on New Hampshire Housing’s waiting list and there is a housing authority in your city or town, we encourage you to ask them about their programs and waiting lists and to apply. Their waiting list could be shorter than ours. You might also want to consider applying to rent-assisted properties, which you can search for online with our Directory of Assisted Housing. The more waiting lists you are on, the greater your chance of receiving the assistance you need.

Updating Your Information

While you are waiting for assistance, it is important to keep track of which waiting lists you may be on and to keep that information current. If you move often or change phone numbers and don’t notify service providers, you lose a vital point of contact and could risk losing your place on a waiting list. Keeping your contact information up to date can increase your odds of receiving help in a more timely manner. If you want to check your status on a waiting list or update your information, it is usually best to contact the property or housing authority directly. For questions about New Hampshire Housing’s Section 8 voucher waiting list or to update your information, please call (800) 439-7247.

Emergency Resources

While you are waiting, there are short-term assistance programs that you can use. You can dial 2-1-1 toll-free within New Hampshire or search their online directory at www.211nh.org for emergency and basic needs resources that are located near you. While 2-1-1 is not a service provider and does not provide direct assistance, it can provide you contact information so you can find the type of help you need.

For information about New Hampshire Housing’s Section 8 voucher program, please visit http://www.nhhfa.org/rental-housing-choice-vouchers.cfm or call our Assisted Housing Division at (800) 439-7247.