If your family is operating on a low income, you might qualify for low-income housing assistance programs like Section 8. Section 8 (also known as the housing choice voucher program) is a federally funded program administered by state housing authorities. It offers rent and mortgage assistance in the form of vouchers. To qualify as low income under the program, your family's income has to fall below 50 percent of the median income of the county where you live [source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development]. The amount the vouchers will pay is based on the federal affordable housing threshold, which is 30 percent of a family's post-tax income [source: Affordable Housing Online]. When you receive vouchers, you pay all rent up to 30 percent of your monthly income, and the federal funding covers the rest. Vouchers are also portable, so once you qualify, you can use them in other parts of the country.
Unfortunately, the housing crisis and the recession economy have substantially increased demand for affordable housing benefits. So, it's possible that, depending on the demand in your particular city, you could be put on a waiting list -- and they can be extremely long. In some areas, applicants have to wait several years to apply [source: Affordable Housing Online]. In 2010, a riot nearly broke out in East Point, Ga., (a city just outside of Atlanta) when 30,000 applicants gathered to apply for Section 8 housing from the East Point Housing Authority [source: Schneider]. Applications had been closed in the city for eight years [source: Schneider].