Unfortunately, the percentage of Americans who qualify as rent-burdened is steadily increasing; in the past fifteen years, in fact, it’s doubled from 19% to 38%. Those numbers indicate those that spend three-tenths of their income on rent. The amount of people who qualify as severely rent-burdened, however, is also alarmingly high at 17%. These percentages all indicate that millions of American families are struggling to afford rent payments on their homes.
In this article, we’ll discuss some ways that you can find and secure rent assistance if you find yourself struggling to make your payments.
If your family is in need of emergency or short-term housing assistance, you can sometimes secure assistance from church organizations or nonprofits. You can usually find assistance through local programs, but there are national programs as well. Bear in mind that these programs are typically limited to those facing eviction or who need emergency services to help in the short-term.
Short-Term Housing Assistance
If you are in need of rental assistance for three months or less (generally) you can apply for short-term rental voucher assistance or subsidy programs. Check with your state’s local housing authority on what’s available to you. You can also contact the 2-1-1 hotline in order to see what programs may fit your needs.
Long-Term Housing Assistance
Long-term rental assistance can often be found through HUD’s Section 8 low-income housing programs. The process to qualify for this type of assistance can be lengthy, and you may need to join a waitlist, but it’s worth checking into to see if you qualify for this program.
You can also check with your local housing authority to see what programs are available to you and your family. They may have certain housing developments, or homes, within your city or state that are available to you for lower rent options.
Rural Rental Housing Assistance
This particular type of assistance is limited to certain areas, generally in rural areas, and are for use when the individual or family is spending 30% or more of their household income on the monthly rent. The USDA also often has lower rental opportunities available to families that qualify.
Trade Labor for Rent
If you’re willing and able to work for lower rent, you may consider speaking with your landlord. There may be opportunities for you to provide labor in exchange for a discounted rental rate. Some ideas could be:
- Cleaning the grounds
- Lawn Mowing
- Shoveling snow
If you are skilled in a particular area, like plumbing or electrical work, this can also be of benefit to you in negotiations.
Speak to Your Landlord
It is possible to negotiate with your landlord on rent sometimes. If you are going through financial hardship or find yourself having difficulty making your rent payment, try speaking with your landlord to negotiate a modified payment. Your landlord may be able to spread out your rental payments over a longer period of time than the 12 or 24-month agreement, thus lowering your monthly payment obligation.
Your landlord may be willing to renegotiate your lease agreement terms and lower your rental payments in total. Keep in mind that your landlord is not obligated to change your rental agreement or accept lower payments, however, it is worth a try.
Find a Roommate
If your rental agreement allows it, securing a roommate to divide rental payments with you can go a long way to better afford your rent. Be sure to clearly define how costs will be split with your roommate and have them written into your lease agreement as well; including your roommate into your rental agreement is important because it holds them liable to the terms as well.