What Are Housing Grants?
Housing grants are grants that enable people that are in a low income situation to afford either an apartment or a house. One of the most prominent organizations responsible for issuing these grants is the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (often called HUD for short). This is a federal department that is oversees the task of making affordable housing available to low income individuals and families.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development was created in 1965 under the Johnson administration when the president signed the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act. This act was a part of Lydon Johnson’s Great Society agenda. The act among other things stipulates that low income families should have to pay no more than 30% of their income as rent.

Types of Housing Grants
Getting a housing grant can be easy especially if you are a first time home buyer. With these types of grants, you often have no obligation to repay the grant, which makes getting your own house a reality.

However, not everyone can get one. These grants are awarded based on a set of criteria which often includes financial need and income qualifications. So if you are thinking of applying for one simply because you don’t want to pay for a house even if you can afford one, then it might be a waste of time to try. Likewise, it would be more difficult to get one if you already own several houses to your name.

There are many different types of housing grants available. They are available even if you only want to improve or repair your current house. Below are the usual types of housing grants:

Energy Efficiency
In the aim to reduce energy wastage and human impact on the environment, grants are given to address energy problems at home. This particular type of housing grants is often used to repair or improve the way the house consumes energy or receives energy from the power companies as well as the surroundings.

Home Improvement Assistance Programs
For costs regarding home renovations and repairs, housing grants called home improvement assistance programs are available. These include grant programs for elderly, low-income, rural, veterans, and special needs populations.

Home Ownership
For qualified citizens who do not have enough income to purchase a house of their own, home ownership grants provide financial aid programs. Home Ownership grants may be used for aid in down payments and closing costs as well as mortgage insurance.

If you already have an existing loan on your house, there are many refinancing programs that will help you save money through mortgage refinancing, mortgage insurance and homeowners’ grants.

Rental Help
Low-income, elderly and special needs populations are targeted more specifically by rental help programs. These rental help programs not only provide affordable housing to these populations, some of these programs may also provide discounts on utility bills.

Rural Housing
Low-income rural Americans can take advantage of rural housing grant programs. The purpose of rural housing programs is often for home renovation and/or repair or to help a disabled person stay in their home.

Qualifications for HUD Housing Grants
The primary qualifications for housing under the programs offered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are the applicant’s level of income and citizenship status. Among the additional factors considered in the qualifications for HUD housing are whether an individual is elderly or disabled and the size of his or her family. After the initial determination is made of an individual or family meeting the qualifications for HUD housing, the character of the applicant also is taken into account.

HUD offers two programs to provide housing assistance. They are the public housing program and the Section 8 program. The income aspect of the qualifications for HUD housing under each of these programs varies according to the area in which the housing is located. The limits are determined annually by HUD based on that area’s median income.

The housing programs offered by HUD are administered by local authorities. The public housing program consists of multi-family rental units managed by the local housing authority, which rents directly to the tenant at a reduced rate of rent. To be eligible for this type of public housing, the tenant’s income level cannot exceed a certain percentage of the median income for that area. As of 2011, this percentage was set at 80 percent.

Under the Section 8 program, a rental voucher is issued to the eligible tenant that can be used to rent available housing on the open market. This program also is administered by the local housing authority. The landlord must agree to participate in the Section 8 program for the property to be eligible, and the level of rent charged cannot exceed a fair rental amount as determined by HUD. Under this program, the income level of the applicant’s household must be less than a certain percentage of the area’s median income — 50 percent, as of 2011.

The other principal factor in the qualifications for HUD housing involves citizenship. For either of the HUD housing programs, the applicant must be a U.S. citizen or be an eligible immigrant. A non-citizen who is a legal resident alien would qualify for the programs.

After the income and citizenship qualifications for HUD housing have been satisfied, the local housing authority is charged with verifying the character of the proposed tenant. A local housing authority can deny an application for HUD housing if it determines that the applicant will not be a suitable occupant. The applicant will often be required to provide personal references for this purpose.