When my wife and I were starting out in life, we lived in a series of low income housing apartments, each of which was a different experience. While there is certainly a stigma attached to such living conditions, low income housing is sometimes the only option when you’re trying to get back on your feet. If you’re got some housing decisions to make in the near future, and if your finances are less than perfect, consider these benefits and drawbacks to living in low income housing.
Benefit: Lower Rent
In most cases, low income housing means lower rent, which can translate into more money saved. Some of your utilities might also be paid by the property, such as water and sewage and trash, but the details vary depending on where you live and the property you choose. The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development provides financial assistance to these properties so your rent can be lower than the average in that particular neighborhood.
One of the main problems I had with low income housing was my neighbors. We lived in several communities where the majority of residents didn’t have jobs, and spent all day loitering in common areas, listening to loud music and harassing passerby. When you choose low income housing, you choose to live with people who are down on their luck, but also people who are lazy. It just depends on the particular community you choose.
Benefit: Easier Approval
Although this isn’t always true, low income housing often provides easier approval for housing. If they check your credit at all, their requirements won’t be as stiff as those for regular housing, and you may not have to provide a cosigner even if you’ve had problems in the past. These properties are designed to help citizens get back on their feet, which means providing housing to people who might not qualify elsewhere.
Drawback: Narrow Margin
Even if you are approved based on credit, it can be difficult to meet the income requirements for low income housing. There is usually a narrow margin through which you can squeeze based on your monthly income, and if you exceed it by so much as a dollar, you will probably be denied. For example, the Millstone Apartments in Katy, Texas, require that you may at least three times the rent, which for a one-bedroom means an income of at least $25,740. However, you can’t make more than $27,000 if you want to live there.
Benefit: Good Maintenance
In many cases, low income housing means that the government pays for certain maintenance expenses, such as landscaping, remodeling and repairs. Since apartments are notorious for lacking sufficient maintenance assistance, this can be a huge benefit for people who want to live in a safe and secure environment. They might also provide courtesy officers who patrol the community and security systems for additional safety.
Drawback: Affordable is Relative
Just because you find a community that offers low income housing doesn’t mean that it is affordable. In most cases, the rent and other fees are relative to the standard in the city or town in which you live. For example, low income housing in Katy, Texas, will be far more expensive than low income housing in inner-city Houston. It’s important to look at all of your options and choose what is best for your family.