Different Types of Affordable Housing: A Quick Guide


Every year, the cost of living rises. Americans all across the country are struggling to find affordable housing that fits their needs and budgets.

To assist those with low incomes, there are several types of affordable housing available. These options are available through government programs and non-profit organizations.

The hardest part is finding which housing option is best for you and your family. Check out this simple guide to learn about the different types of affordable housing available in your area.

What Is Affordable Housing?

Affordable housing refers to the housing cost an individual or family can afford. In most places, the recommended cost of your housing shouldn’t exceed 30% to 40% of your income.

Unfortunately, this isn’t possible for most Americans. Many low-income Americans are making hard choices between paying rent and paying for healthcare, food, or other basic needs.

Those experiencing housing insecurity will face challenges such as:

  • Paying rent
  • Paying utilities
  • Evictions
  • Poor quality housing
  • Unsafe housing
  • Living with too many people
  • Living in places that aren’t housing, such as warehouses or cars
  • Homelessness
  • Frequently moving

While there are no quick fixes to these challenges, there are programs and resources available to help improve people’s housing situations.

Types of Affordable Housing

What many people don’t know is there are many types of affordable housing available. The hardest part is knowing how and where to find them.

One of the main federal housing programs is the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. Under the HUD, there are many subprograms available. Use this simplified guide to help you find the right housing for you.

Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher

Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher or HCV is a federal program designed to help with rent. Low-income renters will pay a small portion of the rent, usually 30%, based on their adjusted income. The HCV will have a Public Housing Agency (PHA) cover the other portion of the rent.

The benefit of an HCV is renters have the option to choose the unit they want to rent. There are over 2,400 public housing agencies nationwide that help manage this Section 8 HCV program.


To qualify, applicants must be 18 or over, and both single individuals and families can qualify. Families and individuals must make a gross income of less than 50% of the Area Median Income or AMI of the area you plan to live. The AMI doesn’t include children who are earning an income who are under 18 years old.

Public Housing

Public Housing Agencies or housing authorities manage “scattered sites” or homes and apartments designated for low-income families. There are over one million public housing units in the United States. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees and funds these public housing sites.

This type of housing program offers rental assistance to those renting from specific houses and apartment communities. Renters must rent from one of the available units managed by the housing authority. The drawback to these options is there are long waiting lists, and applicants must choose from apartment communities or homes through the public housing agency.

Public housing works by having tenants pay rent up to 30% of their income after deductions and utility costs. The public housing authority will cover the rest of the rent.


Low-income families and individuals can qualify for public housing. Low-income eligibility is 80% or less of the AMI in your area. Very low-income is everything below 50% of the AMI.

The PHA will consider and make rent adjustments based on your situation. This includes family size, annual gross income, and if you’re caring for elderly or disabled individuals.

Those who don’t have eligible or legal immigration status don’t currently qualify for public housing. The PHA may prioritize other families and individuals over you based on their needs and situation.

Subsidized Housing

Subsidized housing refers to any low-rent housing owned by a private party. The property owners receive subsidies from the government, so they may continue offering housing for low to moderate-income applicants.

Applicants can look for the housing they like. The property owners will set their rent based on the standard rent in the area and the subsidy they receive. The property owners don’t set rents based on the tenant’s income.

Check Actonadu.com to learn more about affordable housing units in the California area.


Families and individuals must meet varying income limits in their area to qualify. The US HUD offers resources for you to find affordable housing units available in your area.

Section 42 Housing

Private real estate developers and landowners can receive IRS tax benefits by dedicating a part of their rental property to affordable housing. The tax credit will save the rental property owner money and lower their taxes.

Prospective tenants must apply for Section 42 through the rental property.


Households must meet or fall short of the 60% AMI. Both individuals and families can qualify.

When you apply, you will need to provide your income information, credit history, and criminal history. Some places may request references.

Unlike other housing solutions, you won’t receive any subsidies or help to pay rent. Instead, your rent will have a cap based on your income.

Rent Help

Non-profit organizations, charities, and religious groups may offer rental help. This includes those needing help to pay for late rent, utility costs, or moving costs.

The aid you receive is dependent on your needs and the organization. These are short-term solutions and each organization will have different terms for the help.


Each organization will determine eligibility based on your unique needs or situation. Many have income requirements or may save their funds for those at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness.

You’ll need to contact the individual organization to find out whether you qualify.

How To Qualify For Affordable Housing

To qualify for any of these affordable housing solutions, you will need to meet their requirements. The goal of these housing assistance programs is to help those enduring financial hardships and can’t afford a place to live in their area on their own.

Find Housing Today

Finding affordable housing is challenging. With the different types of affordable housing available, you’re sure to find a housing solution that fits your unique needs. You can confidently start searching for the right affordable housing for you and your family today.

Finding and owning a home can be overwhelming. Check our latest Home Improvement and News articles to learn more great ways to improve your living and your home!

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