Financial Options and Resources for Renters

Options for Making Rent Affordable

Rent can be expensive and people with limited income can find it difficult to afford usual rent in their area. When you pay rent, you also need to make sure you have enough money to pay for utilities, food, clothing, insurance, gifts, haircuts, transportation, cable and all of the other things you may need. To make rent affordable, many people will choose to take advantage of some of the privately and publicly available rental assistance program options in Maryland.

Affording Rental Housing without a Subsidy

“Naturally Occurring” Affordable Units

Sometimes there are apartments and houses that are affordable because of their location, age or the intent of the owner. Some private owners prefer to rent their units at affordable prices because of their mission.

Living with a Roommate

Living with a roommate can make housing more affordable. When the housing costs are spread out between two people, the costs are about half of what they would be otherwise. When considering living with a roommate, be sure that the person is someone you can live with comfortably. Also be sure to have a roommate agreement with rules that are clear and in writing.

Roommate Income

If you own a home and have a roommate to share expenses with, it can be more affordable. As long as your roommate does not pay more than half of the mortgage, utilities and food costs, their contribution to household expenses will not be considered income and therefore won’t affect your SSI benefits.

Renting a Room

Sometimes people will rent a room in their house to someone. Typically, the homeowner wants to get additional money to help with their housing costs. Sometimes, the homeowner prefers to have someone else in the home with them. Whatever the reason, be sure that the owner is someone you can trust and can live with.

Family or Friend Financial Assistance

Family and friends can sometimes help with housing expenses. Sometimes. families will purchase a home for their loved one. Sometimes, families will help by making rent or utility payments. Other times, a special needs trust will pay for housing expenses. If you have someone else helping you with housing costs and you receive SSI, be sure to understand the rules and impact on your monthly income. See section I.B. for more information on this topic.

Assistance from a Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust can also help you pay your rent and utilities. Just like getting help from family/friends, getting funds from your trust for room and board costs can also impact your SSI benefits.

Types of Rent Subsidy Programs

  • Tenant-based: A tenant-based rent subsidy is attached to the person, who can shop around for a home that meets their needs and rents for a price that is within the subsidy program guidelines. The person can rent an apartment for a year and then decide to move and use their subsidy somewhere else. This type of subsidy is the most flexible and gives the most choice.
  • Project-based: A project-based rent subsidy is attached to the unit or apartment. A person must qualify to live in the apartment with the subsidy. As long as the person continues to qualify and live in the unit that is subsidized, they have the benefit of the rent subsidy. However, if they decide to move, they cannot take the subsidy with them to rent another apartment.
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