Many landlords across the U.S. receive funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD. The funding allows them to rent apartments in privately-owned buildings to low-income tenants at reduced rents. If you earn below HUD's income limits, you may qualify for a lower rental rate. But how do you find these apartments?
It's easy, thanks to an online database maintained by HUD and updated daily. The answer is just a few mouse clicks away.
HUD Income Limits
It's important to get a sense for whether or not you qualify for HUD assistance before you begin your search. HUD income limits can vary depending on the region where you're looking for an apartment, and they can change by year. Your income may be too high in one metropolitan area but fall within the limit in another. These variations are intended to take into account and living cost variations of various geographic areas. The amount of subsidy received by the landlord—and therefore the price he or she is allowed to charge the low-income tenant, depends on how you compare to the median income for the county you reside in. There are three low-income tiers defined: you are considered low income if your household earnings are no more than 80 percent of the median income. You are considered very low income if your household income is no more than 50 percent of the median income. Lastly, you are considered extremely low income if your family income is no more than 60 percent of the very low-income level.
Contact the housing agency in your area to find out the median income levels there. Those who are homeless are given preference, and special rules apply to the elderly and the disabled.
Accessing the Database
Here's how to access the database and what to do when you find results:
- Visit HUD's low-rent apartment search page.
- Use the drop-down menu to select the state where you're searching for an apartment. All 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are included in the list.
- Click on NEXT, and this will take you to a page where you can enter the city, county, or zip code where you want to live. If you wish, you can provide more information to narrow your search for the right apartment. You can specify the number of bedrooms you require and indicate if you would be interested in an apartment that's been set aside for certain groups, such as seniors or renters with disabilities.
- Clicking NEXT again will take you to a page listing properties in your designated area that offer subsidized apartments. Look at the property addresses listed in the search results and the information provided about each one.
- If a certain property interest you, contact that property's management company using the phone number that appears at the left
If Your Search Turns Up Empty
It's possible that you won't like any of the apartments your search has produced, or maybe there are just no subsidized apartments in the area you've selected. Don't give up. Check back again in a few days or weeks—the site is regularly updated as landlords agree to accept HUD funding.
If you're interested in renting an apartment that's not listed, ask the landlord if he would be willing to work with you to accept HUD funding.
Another option is to widen your search, particularly if you focused on one specific city. Search by county instead, and your results will probably expand.