DEFINITION of 'U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - HUD'

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a U.S. government agency created in 1965 to support community development and home ownership. HUD does this by improving affordable home ownership opportunities, increasing safe and affordable rental options, reducing chronic homelessness, fighting housing discrimination by ensuring equal opportunity in the rental and purchase markets, and supporting vulnerable populations.

BREAKING DOWN 'U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - HUD'

HUD enforces the Fair Housing Act and oversees the Community Development Block Grant, the Housing Choice Voucher program and other programs to assist low-income and disadvantaged Americans with their housing needs. Following Hurricane Katrina, HUD became involved in disaster recovery in the Gulf Coast region. HUD works with other government agencies and private organizations, including community nonprofits and faith-based groups, to reach its goals.

The Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination in housing based on sex, race, color, national origin and religion. Additionally, everyone deserves fair housing regardless of familial status or handicap. HUD investigates any issues regarding the refusal to rent or sell a property, denying someone a dwelling, falsely denying properties are unavailable and imposing different terms or conditions based on the aforementioned discriminating conditions.

Grant Program

The Community Development Block Grant program allocates federal grant money to communities to develop neighborhoods that have decent, affordable housing. These grants typically aid low- and middle-income residents so they can find suitable living environments near employers, supermarkets or public transportation. States, cities, towns, communities and organizations apply for these block grants or for loan guarantees to aid in development projects.

Vouchers

The Housing Choice Voucher program, colloquially called Section 8, allows very low-income, disabled or elderly citizens to choose a place to live regardless of whether the property exists as subsidized housing. The property must meet certain requirements, and applicants need to meet government standards to qualify.

A local public housing authority determines a moderately priced housing option based on local real estate prices before deciding the benefits that families or individuals can receive. Families then seek out a housing unit for the number of people living in the house, duplex or apartment. The maximum benefit is usually the lesser of a payment standard minus 30% of a family's monthly adjusted income or the gross rent minus 30% of the monthly adjusted income.

Families can move away from one housing unit to another due to income changes, job status or adding family members. The voucher program attempts to allow for mobility without losing a housing benefit. Beneficiaries with vouchers sign leases with property owners with this program. With subsidized housing, residents sign leases with property managers who oversee federally owned projects.

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