The most extensive and efficient rental assistance programs in the United States are the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs. A state and city directory on the HUD website lists local Public Housing Agencies where renters can sign up for these programs.
The HUD Public Housing program oversees about 3,300 Public Housing Agencies that provide low cost rental housing in apartments and single family houses for approximately 1.2 million households as of 2015. The program focuses on affordable, safe housing for the elderly, the disabled and low-income families. Eligibility depends on a prospective tenant's annual gross income, U.S. citizenship or status as an eligible immigrant, and the results of a reference check to ensure good tenant habits and practices. The application process involves the gathering of detailed personal and financial information backed up by documentation as well as a personal interview.
The HUD Housing Choice Voucher program helps the disabled, the elderly and low-income families find affordable housing in the private sector. Applicants locate their own housing in apartments, townhouses or single-family dwellings. Eligible housing must meet minimum safety and health standards, and landlords must agree to participate in the program. Once an agreement between the tenant, the landlord and the local Housing Authority is reached, the Housing Choice Voucher program pays part of the rent, and the tenant pays the balance.