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Special Voucher & Disability Programs

Low and middle-income families often struggle to afford adequate shelter. Buying a home may be difficult, as lenders lock out those families with low incomes. Even middle-income families, many who may have a modest income and credit score, may lack the ability to make a down payment on a home. In either scenario or other similar ones, the benefits of homeownership can often seem like a far-off dream.

Renting may be difficult as well, as the cost of rent in some areas may be higher than many low or middle-income families can afford. The average rental property or apartment can exceed $1,000 a month, or even $2,000 a month. Families that need to live in these areas for work or other personal reasons may find it difficult to afford the costly rent that exists there.

There are government programs that help individuals and families find adequate shelter. The Federal Housing Authority (FHA), couched under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers some loans well suited for those with low incomes or bad credit. However, not every family is ready to purchase a house.

For those that qualify, there are programs for some low income and middle-income families. These special programs exist primarily for a limited number of people who belong to specific categories, and they are often small with only limited funding options. However, if you fit into one of these categories, you may find a program that could cover a sizable portion of your house purchase.

Demographic groups with special programs include:

Non-Elderly Disabled
Homeless Veterans
Families and Individuals in the Child Welfare Program
Current Public Housing Recipients

Even with these programs, qualification limitations exist. All of these programs are administered through local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), meaning that not all programs are available in all areas. Please check with your local PHA to determine if a program exists in your county or region.

Non-Elderly Disabled
The federal government provides a program specifically to help non-elderly disabled individuals find places to live. Such individuals may often struggle to find affordable shelter, as many disabled people who were either born disabled or developed disabilities due to an accident have difficulty finding work and supporting themselves and their families.

The Non-Elderly Disabled (NED) Program has been operating since 1997, and awards vouchers in two categories:

Category 1: Non-elderly individuals and families who are trying to access affordable homes on the private market.

Category 2: Non-elderly individuals currently in nursing home care or other healthcare institutions seeking to transition back into the community.

The program offers different types of assistance.

Designated Housing vouchers enable non-elderly disabled individuals and their families who may have qualified for units that would otherwise have been only available to elderly individuals to receive financial assistance. They also allow non-elderly disabled families currently living in public housing to move into a different property. Families can be admitted to regular public housing voucher wait lists as special admission, even if they would not have qualified otherwise. Access is behind all other families on the waitlist.

Certain Developments vouchers are available for disabled individuals and families where developments are restricted to only elderly persons or families. Families are placed on a waitlist and receive assistance only after other affected families are prioritized.

These vouchers offer the following options:[1]

Section 8 new construction projects.
Section 8 substantial rehabilitation projects.
State housing agencies Section 8 projects.
Section 8 new construction projects under the Section 515 rural housing program.
Section 8 assistance program for the disposition of HUD-owned projects.
Housing assisted under Section 202 of the Housing Act of 1959.
Homes financed by a loan or mortgage insured under Section 221(d)3) of the National Housing Act that bears an interest rate determined under Section 221 (d)5).
Homes insured, assisted, or held by the Secretary or a State or State Agency under Section 236 of the National Housing Act.

One-Year Mainstream Housing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities vouchers allow those families with a non-elderly disabled individual to receive turnover vouchers. These must go to families that include a non-disabled elderly individual.

Project Access Program vouchers allow families with a non-elderly disabled person who is receiving assistance from Medicaid to gain special vouchers to transition back into the community and out of nursing homes or special assistance homes.

NED Voucher Qualifications
Families and individuals must meet the following criteria:

Have one or more family members officially classified as non-elderly disabled.
Have an income that does not exceed 50% of the median income for the surrounding county or metropolitan area.

The local Public Housing Authority (PHA) will determine how much families must pay but will cap the amount at 40% of the cost of the housing. Beneficiaries are required to find their housing. Interested families must apply with their local PHA.

Homeless Veterans
Homelessness among veterans is an issue of National concern, and the federal government maintains the HUD-VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) program to help homeless veterans.

The HUD-VASH program offers more than just vouchers. It also provides clinical support services through the Department of Veterans Affairs that includes medical care, mental health assistance, and substance abuse help. HUD uses data collected from different organizations to determine which geographic regions have the largest concentration of homeless veterans. HUD will then use that information to provide local Public Housing Authorities with the necessary funds to help homeless veterans find adequate shelter through the regular Section 8 program and provide them with the clinical support they need.

Each year since 2008, the HUD-VASH program has awarded 7,000-10,000 vouchers to veterans. 85,000 vouchers have been awarded to veterans since 2008. Congress has allocated around $60 million to help fund the program and maintain access to those veterans currently receiving assistance through HUD-VASH.

Applicants must be able to verify their military record as well as certify their homeless status based on the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. As homeless veterans often do not have adequate access to this information, family members are encouraged to contact their local Veterans Affairs or PHAs to help place homeless veteran family members into the program.