Of all the problems facing America’s single moms, housing could be the most vexing. Help for single mothers can be found through the Section 8 voucher program administered through the federal Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Qualifying families – who usually have to provide proof of low income — obtain a voucher for housing, which leaves the option for location and style to the renter (provided the property meets HUD standards and the landlord is willing). A one-year lease is typical, though 2 and 3 years are not unheard of. The owner gets the voucher and the renter pays the remaining balance. In many cases, the family need not move, but can apply the voucher to offset all or part of its current rent.
What constitutes “low income”? That will vary from state to state and even from year to year; HUD constantly updates its requirements, and additional help for single mothers may be built into the income levels set for them in particular.
Who pays the security deposit? The renter. There are currently no vouchers earmarked for security deposits.
What special privileges does the renter get? None, really. The full rent has to be paid, so anything not covered by the voucher is the renter’s responsibility. In addition, the home will be inspected periodically to ensure that landlord and renter are keeping the property “up to code.” Like any assistance program for help for single mothers or anyone else, if the requirements aren’t met, the assistance can always be reduced or cancelled.
Can I just cut out of my current housing situation? Probably it won’t be that simple. You will likely have to complete all the terms of your current lease before you can use a voucher to enter a new one.
Will I automatically be granted a voucher if I meet the requirements? Unfortunately, no. Funds aren’t always available whenever someone applies, because demand is high. You can (and should) ask to be put on a waiting list, but be aware that the demand for vouchers sometimes closes even the waiting list for a period of time.
What do I do if I can’t get onto a waiting list? Be proactive in looking for announcements of openings. When the waiting list is reopened, that fact is usually published in newspapers and on the website of the voucher program, local department of services, or housing department.
Financial help for single mothers doesn’t always cover housing. Find out whether you can take advantage of this important voucher program.