The housing assistance program is focused on engaging various housing agencies and the government to assist and provide rent and other utility assistance to immigrants. Affordable housing programs are provided for immigrants, whether documented or undocumented. Immigrants may face some challenges and harsh economic problems in getting housing programs which will be favorable to them since most housing programs are targeted at assisting citizens of the country.
There are many housing assistance programs made available by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that require no immigration status.
Depending on the type of rental assistance programs, whether section 8 housing vouchers, project-based housing programs, or other housing programs hosted by the Department of Rural Development, Immigrants may need to possess some criteria to be eligible for the housing programs. Some of the eligibility criteria for immigrants to qualify for the housing assistance program include;
- Refugees or people seeking asylum.
- Lawful permanent residents.
- Victims of human trafficking or other domestic violence.
- People granted amnesty
- Immigrants who are admitted for temporary residence
Immigrant housing assistance, which is provided under the affordable housing programs sponsored by the government, does not have any restrictions and includes low-income housing, housing for people with disabilities, the elderly, people living with AIDS, and Indian housing.
These affordable housing programs provided by the government allow tenants to pay only 30% of their income as rent. Immigrants must report their immigration status to the Department of Homeland Security and have a social security number when applying for a federal housing assistance program.
Steps to Qualify for Housing Programs as a Documented Immigrant
Generally, federal housing programs are categorized as restricted and non-restricted. The restricted housing programs are made available to only documented immigrants or those who have any member of their family member who is a citizen, particularly if the head of the family is a citizen. Here are some of the eligibility criteria for applying as a documented immigrant:
- Check your immigration status by visiting the county immigration office around you. Knowing your immigration status would allow you to know the type of housing assistance program best suited for your needs.
- Find housing programs that suit your needs. There are different housing programs made available for eligible immigrants, such as the section 8 housing choice voucher, public housing, and the project-based section 8 housing programs. These programs assist immigrants to adjust their rental rates depending on the income rate and the number of eligible people in the family.
- You can find other rural housing programs through the US Department of Agriculture for rent subsidies. In this case, it is very important that one member of the household is a citizen or a legal immigrant before applying because the immigration status will be checked and the social security number may also be requested.
Rent Assistance for Undocumented Immigrants
Rental assistance programs usually request applicants to share their social security number or that of anyone in their household. This request has inadvertently made it impossible for undocumented immigrants to apply for this relief program.
Undocumented immigrants are generally a significant part of the population and among the most venerable, who lack basic needs such as accommodation. With the COVID-19 pandemic, undocumented immigrants are in danger of being disposed of their current housing plans and are searching for rental assistance to support their accommodation.
There is housing assistance available for documented and undocumented immigrants in the US. Being documented is defined as coming into the country through legal means and documents. Not every immigrant in the US is legal, but that does not mean they cannot enjoy some of the federal government assistance programs for housing, food, and other basic amenities.
The rent relief program for undocumented immigrants is available in some states in the US, such as Miami-Dade, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and so on, to pay rent for up to 12 months in arrears and 3 months for future rent fees.
The legal status of the applicants is not usually requested, so it makes it easy for undocumented immigrants to apply and enjoy this facility. The application process does not request for citizenship or the social security number which is used to identify a documented immigrant.
Undocumented immigrants with no stable source of income and no accommodation are allowed to enjoy emergency housing resources and rental assistance, but they are mostly based on short-term time frames.
Some of the rental assistance available for illegal immigrants varies from shelters, transitional housing programs, and vouchers for motel and hotel rooms.
How To Get Help for Rental Assistance
The first step in getting rental assistance is by checking with the county office of immigration services.
At the office, you will be able to get answers to any immigration questions, check your status, and see what type of rental assistance programs are available for you to apply for. The county office also makes sure that immigrants do not lose their current housing or have to be ejected by their landlords due to unpaid rents.
The County immigration office maintains that the immigration status of applicants is not considered when giving out the option of government-funded rent assistance programs. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and other hazards, undocumented immigrants can equally get to apply and enjoy the rent benefits made available by the government.
Immigrants are a peculiar part of the US population and the number increases each year. The immigrants directly or indirectly contribute to the economy of the country, and as such, they are provided with assistance in meeting their basic needs, of which accommodation is an essential part.
Know your rights! Housing Assistance available to immigrant survivors during COVID-19