Useful Tips on Section 8 and Rent Assistance Programs

Useful Tips on Section 8 and Rent Assistance Programs


If you’re struggling to pay your rent, you are not alone. According to a recent PEW Charitable Trusts report, 38 percent of renter households face a rent burden, meaning that they pay a higher-than-average portion of their monthly income on rent. 

Unfortunately, the rent burden continues to grow over time. The number of people who are severely burdened by the cost of their rent, has increased to 17 percent of all renters.

Not being able to afford your rent can create an extremely stressful situation, but luckily, there are several ways that you can get assistance and avoid losing your housing.

Below, learn about techniques you can try in order to lower your rental costs on your own, as well as government assistance programs that may be able to provide additional rental help. 

Tip 1: Talk to Your Landlord

As soon as you realize that you’re going to have trouble paying your rent now or in the future, it is important to talk to your landlord.

Many landlords will be more understanding if you communicate with them ahead of time rather than making a late payment or skipping a payment that you simply can’t afford. 

If you anticipate that you will be unable to pay rent for the remainder of your lease, talking with your landlord may give you the opportunity to set up a payment plan that does work for your financial situation.

Always remember that you are on the hook for paying rent for any month that you live in the apartment, even if you move out or choose to terminate your lease early. 

Tip 2: Consider Getting a Roommate 

If your landlord isn’t willing to work on a payment solution, another way of making rent may be to take on a roommate temporarily or for the rest of your lease.

Most landlords will require that you get their permission to add a roommate halfway though your lease, so be sure to discuss the possibility before looking for a roommate.

Adding a new renter will usually require that both of you sign a new lease and pass the required credit and background checks. 

Finding a good roommate can be difficult, so it is important to consider each candidate carefully.

Ending up with a roommate who fails to pay his or her share can make your situation even worse.

Be sure to interview candidates and get references from previous roommates or landlords before making any agreements.  

Tip 3: Eliminate Expenses and Pay Down Debts 

While rent is something you must pay in full every month, there are probably a few other places where you can cut back in order to save money.

By taking a look at your finances and creating a budget, you may identify areas where you can reduce spending. 

If you have debt, such as student loans, consider contacting your lenders to discuss a payment plan that works better for your current financial situation.

Some lenders offer hardship programs that allow you to make a lower payment or get a temporary waiver.

This may free up the money you need to help make rent. You can also look into cable and internet discounts to help lower your monthly payments.

You can learn more about cable and internet discounts here

For other types of debt, you may consider talking to a credit counselor for assistance in paying off your balance.

Be sure that you do your research and only work with a reputable credit counselor. 

Tip 4: Ask for Help from a Community Organization 

Many private organizations, non-profits and faith-based organizations offer emergency assistance for households that are struggling to make ends meet.

By contacting a community organization, you may be able to receive temporary cash assistance or other forms of help.

The types of organizations available will vary depending on where you live, but most communities have several groups that provide rental assistance.  

Tip 5: Apply for Government Rental Assistance 

If you are unable to afford rent where you currently live, you may also consider contacting the public housing agency (PHA) in your community.

PHAs provide affordable housing for low-income households as well as seniors and people with disabilities.

Through a PHA, you can also apply for the housing choice voucher program, more commonly referred to as Section 8, to get help paying for part or all of your rent.

Keep in mind that Section 8 housing is not usually an immediate solution, as most areas have long waiting lists to get housing vouchers. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also has tools that can help you search for government subsidized rental units in your area, such as Section 8 apartments.

You can learn more about Section 8 apartments here. Many landlords and apartment complexes work with HUD to provide reduced-rent units.

If you qualify, you may apply for these rentals at the management office of a participating complex.  

Tip 6: Look at Low-Income House Listing Websites 

Most popular home listing websites do not provide many opportunities for low-income households.

Luckily, there are websites dedicated to low-income individuals seeking affordable housing. Below are some links to apartment listing websites that meet this standard.