Low Income Housing

Dwelling units meant for families or individuals with low annual household income are sometimes referred to as low income housing projects. These are largely operated or funded either by the private sector or the government at the state or national level for the purpose of providing a decent place for people to reside at an affordable cost.

The Great Depression, which started during the decade immediately preceding World War II, triggered a housing crisis in the United States as thousands of people across the country lost their jobs or were unable to find work resulting in their inability to pay for a place to live. To address the crisis, low income housing projects were developed by the Federal Government and offered to families and individuals at subsidized rates. While low income housing policies have been changed or modified since then, the rationale for the program has substantially remained the same.

More commonly known as Section 8, the federally subsidized low income housing program provides the poor with a dwelling unit and are charged a rent of thirty percent of their monthly income. The accepted benchmark for housing affordability in the United States is thirty percent of a household’s gross monthly income inclusive of taxes, insurance and utility costs. Under the subsidized housing program, the fair market rent for the dwelling unit is determined by the government, and then shoulders the difference after deduction the tenant’s thirty percent share on the rent.

Other incentive programs that complement the low income housing program are offered to housing developers by the government in the form of tax credits and breaks. These incentives are offered to encourage developers to construct affordable low cost housing units for lease to the poor. Private landowners and non-profit organizations can also work with the federal government to develop affordable housing projects to benefit the needy.

Before an individual or a family can qualify and participate in a low income housing program, they should agree to certain stipulations such as allowing the government to verify their annual income and report any changes in the number of their dependents and amount of income. While the low income housing program addresses most of the needs of its beneficiaries, it comes at a price. The federal government is obliged to invest a great deal of money, effort and time to investigate cases of fraudulent program participation. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is the repository of all information pertaining to government and privately funded housing programs for the needy.

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