To be considered “affordable,” you should pay about 30 percent of your income on rent and utilities. For example, if you earn $1000 per month, you should plan to pay no more than $300 on housing.
Only two things can make housing more affordable: either people’s incomes go up (so they can pay more rent), their housing costs go down, or both.
Housing subsidies are additional funds that help to lower housing costs for low-income households. With housing subsidies, your rent is based on your household income. Applying for subsidized housing often means getting on a waiting list.
Examples of subsidized housing for low-income families include:
- Public Housing: You live in an apartment owned by a public agency (such as a local housing authority) that charges you an affordable rent based on your income. The public agency pays the additional housing costs.
- Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher: This program allows low-income families to rent quality housing in the community available through the private market. You pay the landlord what you can afford for rent and utilities (about 30% of your income) and a public agency pays directly to the landlord the difference between the rent you pay and a fair market rent. There is typically a waitlist to receive a voucher. When households are selected from the waiting list to receive a voucher, they are responsible for finding a rental unit where the landlord will accept the voucher as payment.
- Project-based Section 8: Similar to a tenant Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, except the subsidy stays with the building; when you move out, you no longer have the rental assistance. Most units rental cost will be 30% of your household adjusted gross income. There may be a variety of housing types available through this program including single-family homes, townhomes, or apartments.
- Income-eligible housing: A developer builds or rehabilitates a property and receive subsidies in exchange for charging a rent that is affordable to low-income families. The subsidy is the form of funds received through a tax credit for investors in the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, also known in Indiana as the Rental Housing Tax Credit/Section 42 (RHTC). The RHTC program allocates federal tax credits annually to for-profit and non-profit developers for the construction or rehabilitation of affordable rental housing. All units created through the RHTC program must be rented to households at or below 60% of area median income.
Workforce housing: Sometimes you work and earn too much to be eligible for housing subsidies, but the cost of housing in your area is still too high compared to what you can afford to pay. A local government may find other ways to help moderate-income households pay rents they can afford, such as allowing a developer to build additional units (called a density bonus) in exchange for reducing the rent for 10 – 15 percent of the units.
Affordable and Subsidized Housing in Bloomington and Monroe County
Housing4Hoosiers offers a map of apartment buildings in Bloomington and Monroe County, with details about typical rents and amenities. Below is an overview of subsidized housing options in the area.
The Bloomington Housing Authority manages 310 units of public housing for low-income families. Rental payments vary for each tenant, but are generally 30 percent of a household’s adjusted gross income. Public housing is considered a project-based subsidy, meaning that a family is only eligible to receive their housing assistance while they are living in a public housing unit. Seniors and people with disabilities receive priority consideration for public housing. Applicants can check the waitlist for public housing, and fill out an application on the Bloomington Housing Authority (BHA) website.
Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program allows low-income families to rent quality housing available through the private market. The Bloomington Housing Authority (BHA) administers 1368 vouchers in the community. Voucher holders are generally required to pay 30-40 percent of their household income towards rent. BHA pays the remaining rent directly to the landlord.
There is typically a waitlist to receive a voucher. When households are selected from the waiting list to receive a voucher, they are responsible for finding a rental unit where the landlord will accept the voucher as payment. BHA also inspects the unit to ensure its meets housing quality standards for decent, safe and sanitary housing. For more information on how to apply for a Housing Choice Voucher and get on the waitlist, please visit the BHA website.
Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing – VASH
The VASH voucher program is designed to help veterans find and maintain permanent housing. VASH vouchers work similarly to the Section 8 program. However, veterans are put on a waitlist separate from the general public in order to meet their needs more quickly. Recipients of VASH vouchers can use this subsidy to find rentals in the private market, and are required to pay a portion of their income in rent as determined by the Bloomington Housing Authority. In order to be eligible, veterans must first meet with a case worker from VA Health Care. Veterans interested in receiving a VASH Voucher should contact a HUD-VASH social worker at 812-349-4406, or by visiting the Shalom Community Center on Wednesday mornings from 8:30am – 1:00 pm.
Supportive & Transitional Housing and Related Supports
Supportive housing is permanent affordable housing with on-site services that help formerly homeless, disabled tenants live in dignity in the community.
Transitional housing assists people in transitioning from homelessness, substance abuse addiction, domestic violence or other types of bad living environments.
Supportive, transitional, and other housing needs can be met by the following local organizations in Bloomington and Monroe County:
- Middle Way House – Shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence
- Shalom Center – A day shelter operating from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, offering case management, employment assistance, and housing support, as well as essential services such as laundry, showers, meals, and mail service.
- Amethyst House – Halfway housing for substance abuse treatment
- New Hope Family Shelter – Emergency shelter that keeps families together
- Wheeler Mission Ministry – A non-denominational, Christian, social services organization, which provides critically needed goods and services to the homeless, poor, and needy.
- Crawford Homes is a program of Shalom Community Center. The program provides permanent supportive housing to individuals and families who are chronically homeless and have disabilities. For more information: 812-822-3748 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Housing4Hoosiers