In the United States, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible for enforcing the Fair Housing Act of 1968, along with supporting community development, increasing home ownership, and fighting housing discrimination. As part of HUD's mission, the agency provides low income housing to people in need in a number of ways including public HUD housing, rent subsidies, and grants to private agencies which intend to provide low-income housing. HUD housing is eligible for individuals with incomes below a certain level, and is part of the wide network of social services provided by the United States government to support people in need.
A common form of HUD housing is a publicly operated housing development. The development is owned by the government, and often focuses on a specific group of people such as single mothers, recovering drug addicts, disabled people, or formerly homeless individuals. Public housing is accompanied by a stigma in some parts of the United States, thanks to the grim housing projects in some urban areas, but it can also be quite pleasant to live in. Public housing is also built as part of disaster recovery efforts, so that displaced people can have a place to live while they rebuild their homes.
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HUD housing sometimes manifests as subsidies to developers who agree to include low income housing in their plans. Usually the subsidy requires that a certain percentage of homes within a development be set aside for HUD housing. It can also appear in the form of subsidies given directly to renters, called Section 8 assistance, which take the form of vouchers which can be given to a landlord as partial payment for rent. Section 8 gives renters more flexibility, allowing them to find homes outside of developments subsidized by HUD, as long as a landlord who accepts Section 8 can be found. This type of HUD housing assistance is often used by people of low income who want more independence in their housing choices.
In addition to offering HUD housing, HUD also works with community agencies such as Habitat for Humanity. By working with local agencies, HUD hopes to increase the number of homeowners in the United States, and make sure that homes are available for those who need them. HUD also enforces sections of the Fair Housing Act, and will prosecute landlords who are suspected of violating the terms of the act. Individuals who have experienced housing discrimination because of their gender, race, or family status should contact HUD and file a complaint.