What is Subsidized Housing?

Mary McMahon

Subsidized housing is a form of housing which is made accessible through government assistance to people who have difficulty finding and affording housing. Classically, such housing is available to people with low to moderate incomes, along with homeless and disabled individuals. Many governments have subsidy programs in place for housing, viewing safe, clean, pleasant places to live as important for their citizens, and often several types of subsidized housing are available.

Subsidized housing is available for people who meet certain financial requirements.
Subsidized housing is available for people who meet certain financial requirements.

In the most simple form of subsidized housing, tenants are given vouchers or government benefits which help them pay for housing. In some cases, the vouchers may be sent directly to a landlord. Landlords may be required to charge reasonable rates of rent to qualify for the voucher program. A program of this type which is well known is Section 8 in the United States. These subsidized housing programs are designed to get people participating in communities, and they may carry less stigma than other types.

Subsidized housing is available to people with low to moderate incomes, along with homeless and disabled individuals.
Subsidized housing is available to people with low to moderate incomes, along with homeless and disabled individuals.

Public housing built and maintained by the government is another option, as are housing projects such as nonprofit and cooperative housing which are managed by private organizations. In the case of private groups and individuals, subsidized housing is usually provided as a form of charity or community service, and the government offers assistance to encourage people to continue offering this housing option to people in need. New developments may also be required to construct several low income housing units to satisfy regional housing requirements designed to ensure that everyone has a place to live.

Subsidized housing may be an option for homeless individuals to get back on their feet.
Subsidized housing may be an option for homeless individuals to get back on their feet.

In communities where the cost of living is very high, affordable housing can be a very serious issue. People who are of low to moderate income are often at high risk of being homeless in these areas, as they cannot make enough money to rent or buy real estate in their communities. By getting subsidized housing, these individuals can benefit by living and working in a familiar community, and they may also provide more intangible contributions, such as adding to the liveliness of a neighborhood which might otherwise become abandoned and unsafe.

People generally need to apply for subsidized housing. The application includes details about the applicant's income, employment history, and so forth, and it is evaluated by a social worker who determines whether or not the applicant is eligible. If the applicant does qualify for government housing assistance, the social worker will provide some options, such as listings of available homes which accept government vouchers.

Many governments have subsidized housing programs.
Many governments have subsidized housing programs.

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Discussion Comments


@Latte31 - I know that a lot of landlords really like the section 8 program of subsidized housing because the government pays a huge percentage of the rent while the renter only has to come up with a fraction of the rental payments. This makes rent collection easy and pretty predictable.

In addition, landlords get to have steady renters and have few vacancies because people in these programs tend to stay in subsidized housing for a while. My mother in law had a small multiunit building and she accepted section 8 renters. She said she loved it because she never had a problem collecting rent and the renters were so happy to live in the building that they never gave her a problem.


@GreenWeaver - Wow that is high. I know that subsidized housing can be a blessing for many people but sometimes many people become used to the subsidy and continue to live in government housing the rest of their lives. It is easy to understand why because many of these subsidies pay about 60 to 70% of the market rental rate and the person is left with such a low rental payment that it is really tough to beat.

Although people do appreciate the help the government is giving them many continue to stay in poverty and never leave government housing because they can’t find a job that will allow them to pay rent elsewhere and many are afraid of making this big leap.

I think that along with the government subsidized housing we should also look at offering additional job training programs for jobs in higher demand fields so that people have an opportunity to grow out of government housing and have the freedom to live where ever they want.

Subsidized housing is a great option for many, but some in the program do what to live elsewhere and job training can make this happen.


@Icecream17 - I am so glad that you were able to find affordable housing for your dad. I think that subsidized housing for seniors really lifts a huge burden for them because many seniors have limited income and the subsidy can really help them have a better quality of life.

Senior subsidized housing is a great idea. I also think that offering affordable housing options in general really helps all people that may not be able to afford to rent an apartment. It must be a frightening feeling not to be able to afford to pay for an apartment and many more people are now experiencing this because of the rising unemployment rate along with the high amount of property foreclosures.

I think that there are many people that may need subsidized housing especially if you live in more expensive communities like Chicago or live in the city of Detroit which has seen the highest unemployment rates in the country.

I read that the unemployment rate in Detroit is over 30% so the demand for subsidized housing in Michigan must be at an all time high.


I think that subsidized housing for seniors is really an excellent idea too because a lot of seniors have to rely on modest Social Security payments in order to pay all of their bills. This usually does not leave them enough money to live. They also have to worry about expensive medication and treatments as a result of their declining health.

I know that there are many assisted living facilities that have subsidized housing for seniors. For example, my father was in an assisted living facility that only charged $545 per month because it was subsidized by the government. It was a really nice place in a safe area that offered a lot of activities for the residents as well as different dining options.

My father had dementia that became progressively worse and we were pleasantly surprised when we found this place because it offered twenty four hour nursing care for those patients that needed it.

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