Housing Advice and Programs

This past week, the average 30-year mortgage rate climbed to over 7%. In 2022, mortgage rates more than doubled while housing prices remained high. These trends reflect some of the challenges of finding affordable housing in 2023.

The issue of affording housing is a troubling one since it entails not just a place to live but is connected to household mental and physical health and children’s education.

Spending some time evaluating the housing market is one helpful step. A second is to seek out resources to help with affordable housing.

Challenges and Resources

Although home prices appear to be settling down early this year, high interest rates still make it very difficult for potential buyers to purchase a home. Overall, home prices remain about 8% higher than last year. One reason is lower inventory since new construction has decreased in recent years.

Some states are even more challenging than others to find affordable housing. For example, California is a very populated state and one of the most expensive to live in the nation.

As a sign of the struggling housing market, foreclosures had risen 36% at the beginning of this year compared with the previous year. Thus, several challenges confront hopeful homeowners and renters.

The good news is that multiple federal, state, and local housing programs exist to help people with these housing challenges. These resources are designed to help people find and pay for an affordable place to live, modify homes for disabilities, and provide support for households to live independently.

Housing Programs

On the federal to local levels, public housing is one option for low-income and elderly families as well as persons with disabilities. The Public Housing Agency can direct people to state and local public housing programs and housing choice vouchers.

Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), people can get support with housing rental options, from single-family homes to apartments. The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides voucher payments to support living in single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments.

With the Housing Choice Voucher Program, applicants can access emergency vouchers, if someone is at risk for homelessness. Or, vouchers can be used to help buy a home or pay for expenses on a home. This program also offers vouchers for veterans who need support with affordable housing.

Those in need of housing support can also turn to the Administration for Community Living (ACL). The ACL is an advocacy group for older adults, people with disabilities, families, and caregivers. This program provides funding and support for services provided at the local and state levels.

The ACL, for example, manages aging and disability networks that are involved with finding and maintaining affordable housing. This program works with states and cities to support Independent Living initiatives that provide help with rental payments, counseling, and modifying housing.

States like California have provided new grant programs this year. Almost $1 billion in grant funds were recently approved in the Behavioral Health Bridge Housing (BHBH) program to help address the issues of housing instability and homelessness. The funding will go towards several housing options, including assisted living and tiny homes.

Federal, state, and local programs are out there for those who need help.

Housing Loan Programs

Federal and state governments also provide support with affordable housing through loan programs.

The Single Family Housing Direct Loans program provides support with payment assistance to low-income families residing in rural areas. These loans can be used to purchase a home or build, renovate, or repair one. This loan program received additional funding through the American Rescue Plan to continue until September of this year.

The Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program is also targeted at rural areas but includes households with moderate incomes. This program also allows the funds to be used to build, purchase, or remodel a home.

Other loan programs include the Department of Veteran Affairs Home Loan Program with no-down payment, low-interest rate mortgages, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan with home mortgages insured by the federal government, and the FHA’s Energy Efficient Mortgage Insurance that provides loans to add energy-saving features to housing.

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