Finding affordable housing that meets yours and your family’s needs and that fits within your budget constraints can be an undertaking. It’s recommended that you keep your rent or mortgage at or below 30% of your income, but with rising rental and home prices often this simply isn’t practical. Luckily, there are options available to assist you in locating and qualifying for housing that won’t break the bank. While on your search, consider these helpful tips:
Familiarize yourself with your finances
Your current budget and financial situation attributes directly to what kind of affordable housing options you should be considering. Consider how much you’re spending on the following necessities and bills each month:
- Credit card payments
- Clothing and other items
Consider how much you have left over that would be available to go towards housing costs and keep in mind the recommendation of staying at or below 30% of your income. If you find there is not much left over, consider cost reducing steps such as reducing utility costs or carpooling with co-workers.
Check up on your credit
While it’s always recommended to keep a good eye on your credit standing, it can be especially important when you’re looking into your housing options. Knowing what your score is and any potential credit issues you might have beforehand will allow you to take steps to improve if required. It’s also helpful during your score as many programs have credit score and history obligations. Consider contacting a credit counselling agency for assistance if you need to correct some credit problems. Often, there are free or low- cost agencies in your area.
Think about what you and your family’s housing needs are
- Before jumping into your search, or contacting agencies, it’s important to identify what you and your family require in a home:
- How many bedrooms will you need?
- What location is ideal in relation to school and work? Are you willing to move out of your current area?
- What amenities or accommodations do you require?
- Having a clear idea of what you need and what you may be willing to do without will help in narrowing your search.
Different affordable housing options
While there is a variety of different affordable housing options and programs out there, knowing some of the main options available and the difference between them will help with your search. Available programs will all have their own credit, income, and family size requirements, making you either eligible or ineligible for some of them.
Section 8 Housing – This is one of the most popular rental assistance programs available. Eligible recipients are given vouchers to help pay a portion of rental and utility costs. Many private renters accept Section 8 vouchers as payment.
Homebuyer Assistance Programs – These programs can be federal or state funded and vary greatly. Most of them will require a certain credit score and history and can help with a range of things from down payment assistance to reduced mortgages by grants.
Non-profit Housing – The purpose of these programs is to provide housing to seniors, the needy, and low income households who cannot find accommodations in private housing.
Public Housing – This type of housing is owned by the government and is aimed at providing assistance to low income households.
When going through your budget in preparation for your possible move, look for potential ways to save. Coming up with a savings plan, no matter the size, is smart when preparing for any housing change.
While many of the affordable housing options available to you will not require much up front or anything in payment, you still may need to pay a portion. Other moving expenses may also arise, such as moving trucks, setting up utilities, small repairs, or furniture/appliances.