What is Affordable Housing?
Affordable housing means different things to different people. For us, we are referring to housing that is subsidized by the government or by non-profit entities. Typically, qualifying renters may rent units in exchange for a percentage of their gross income instead of a flat monthly fee. In some instances, this assistance is coupled with a utility allowance, which is intended to cover the typical cost of utilities.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find all the information you might need about the various programs available. This page is intended to put commonly asked questions and useful links in one place.
Who Offers Assistance?
When you are looking at affordable housing in Wisconsin, you will have a lot of acronyms thrown at you, often starting with HUD, WHEDA, and RD. The purpose of this paragraph is to identify what these agencies are.
HUD is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development which oversees a number of assistance programs at a federal level. Their website can be found here. HUD’s agent in Wisconsin is WHEDA, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. Their website can be found here.
RD refers to the USDA Office of Rural Development, which is distinct from HUD and WHEDA as it is an agency with the United States Department of Agriculture. Their website can be found here. Rural Development focuses on improving the economy and quality of life in rural America, whereas HUD and WHEDA are more broadly focused.
What Assistance is Available?
1. Privately Owned Subsidized Housing
2. Publicly Owned Subsidized Housing
3. Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
The central difference between publicly owned and privately owned subsidized housing is the ownership structure. Typically, publicly owned housing is managed by a Housing Authority. Housing Authorities are run by boards that are often made up of local officials and often have regular open meetings. HUD has a list of Wisconsin Housing Authorities, here. Privately Owned Subsidized Housing includes housing owned by individuals, for-profit entities, and non-profit entities.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8, is a different kind of subsidy. Instead of the subsidy flowing through the apartment building, a tenant must apply for a voucher which is accepted by the landlord. The biggest difference between Section 8 and other forms assistance is that when you move, a Section 8 Voucher typically moves with you.
How Do I Get Assistance?
Do I Qualify?
HUD’s 2018 income guidelines can be found here.
Rural Development’s 2018 income guidelines can be found here.