Discovering Apartments for People on SSI: A Guide to Affordable Living

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Key Takeaways

  • People who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may face challenges in finding affordable and accessible housing, especially in high-cost areas.
  • There are several federal, state, and local programs that can help SSI recipients with rent, utilities, and other housing-related expenses, such as the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), the Housing and Disability Advocacy Program (HDAP), and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA).
  • SSI recipients can also use some strategies to improve their chances of finding suitable housing, such as searching for subsidized apartments, negotiating with landlords, and applying for housing assistance as soon as possible.
Cozy and accessible apartment interior with affordable furnishings, natural light, and inclusive design features.
Explore Affordable Living: A Glimpse into SSI-Friendly Apartment Comfort and Style.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that provides monthly cash benefits to people who are aged, blind, or disabled and have limited income and resources. SSI benefits are intended to help cover basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. However, many SSI recipients struggle to afford housing, especially in areas where the rent is high and the availability is low. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), nearly half of SSI recipients pay more than 50% of their income for rent, putting them at risk of housing instability and homelessness. ¹

Finding affordable and accessible housing can be challenging, but not impossible, for people who receive SSI. There are various programs and resources that can help SSI recipients with their housing needs, as well as some tips and advice that can make the search easier and more successful. In this article, we will explore some of the options and strategies that can help SSI recipients discover apartments that are within their budget and meet their accessibility requirements.

Housing Assistance Programs for SSI Recipients

One of the main sources of housing assistance for SSI recipients is the federal government, which offers several programs that can help low-income individuals and families pay for rent, utilities, and other housing-related costs. Some of the most common and widely available programs are:

  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8): This program provides vouchers that subsidize the rent for eligible low-income households, allowing them to pay no more than 30% of their income for housing. The vouchers can be used for any type of housing that meets the program’s standards of quality and safety, including single-family homes, apartments, and townhouses. The vouchers are administered by local public housing agencies (PHAs), which determine the eligibility and the amount of assistance for each household. To apply for a voucher, SSI recipients need to contact their local PHA and complete an application. However, due to the high demand and limited funding, there may be long waiting lists and preferences for certain groups, such as the elderly, the disabled, or the homeless. ²
  • Housing and Disability Advocacy Program (HDAP): This program is available only in California and assists homeless or at-risk-of-homelessness individuals who are likely eligible for disability benefits, such as SSI or SSDI, by providing advocacy for disability benefits as well as housing supports. The program requires that participating counties offer outreach, case management, benefits advocacy, and housing assistance to all program participants. The housing assistance can include interim shelter, rental assistance, housing navigation, security deposits, utility payments, moving costs, and other services. To apply for HDAP, SSI recipients need to contact their county social services agency and request a referral. ³
  • Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA): This program was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and provides funds to states, territories, local governments, and tribes to help eligible households with rent and utility payments. The funds can be used for rent, rental arrears, utilities, home energy costs, and other related expenses. The eligibility criteria vary by each program, but generally, the household must have experienced a financial hardship due to the pandemic, be at risk of housing instability or homelessness, and have a household income below a certain threshold. To apply for ERA, SSI recipients need to find their local program and follow the application process. ⁴

In addition to these federal programs, there may be other state, local, or nonprofit programs that can provide housing assistance to SSI recipients, such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Multifamily Housing Rental Assistance Program, or the Home Safe Program. SSI recipients can search for these programs online, contact their local social services agency, or visit a housing counseling agency for more information and guidance.


Tips and Advice for Finding Apartments for SSI Recipients

Besides applying for housing assistance programs, SSI recipients can also use some strategies to improve their chances of finding affordable and accessible apartments, such as:

  • Searching for subsidized apartments: Subsidized apartments are rental units that offer reduced rents to low-income tenants, based on their income and family size. These apartments are funded by various government or nonprofit agencies, such as HUD, USDA, or Habitat for Humanity. Subsidized apartments can be found in different types of buildings, such as public housing, multifamily housing, or supportive housing. To find subsidized apartments, SSI recipients can use online databases, such as Affordable Housing OnlineSocialserve, or HUD Resource Locator, or contact their local housing authority or nonprofit organization.
  • Negotiating with landlords: Sometimes, SSI recipients may be able to negotiate with landlords to lower the rent, waive the security deposit, or make reasonable accommodations for their disability. For example, SSI recipients can offer to pay the rent in advance, sign a longer lease, provide references, or perform minor repairs or maintenance tasks. SSI recipients can also request that landlords install ramps, grab bars, or other modifications that can make the apartment more accessible and comfortable for them. However, SSI recipients should be aware of their rights and responsibilities as tenants, and avoid signing any lease or agreement that they do not understand or agree with.
  • Applying for housing assistance as soon as possible: Due to the high demand and limited supply of affordable housing, SSI recipients may have to wait for months or even years before they can receive housing assistance or find a suitable apartment. Therefore, it is advisable that SSI recipients apply for housing assistance as soon as they are eligible, and keep their applications updated and active. SSI recipients should also check their status regularly, and respond to any requests or notifications from the housing agencies or programs. Additionally, SSI recipients should not limit themselves to one option, but explore and apply for multiple sources of housing assistance, such as vouchers, subsidized apartments, or rental assistance programs.


Housing is one of the most essential and challenging needs for people who receive SSI. However, there are many programs and resources that can help SSI recipients with their housing expenses, as well as some tips and advice that can make the search easier and more successful. By using these options and strategies, SSI recipients can discover apartments that are affordable and accessible for them, and enjoy a better quality of life.

Source: (1) Affordable Housing Options for People Collecting Disability. (2) Understanding SSI – Living Arrangements – The United States Social …. (3) Housing Assistance for People on SSI | Sapling. (4) What Housing for Seniors on Social Security is Available?. (5) 20 Best Places To Live on Only a Social Security Check.

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