How to Apply for Rent Assistance

Rent can be costly and hard for some to manage in today's economy.

Rent assistance is help in paying monthly rent to those who are going through a financial hard time. For those who need temporary or long-term help, assistance is available for various aspects of daily living, with rent being a common area of aid.


The process may seem long, but rent-assistance programs must ensure recipients are those who truly need help. This is why having all your financial information ready is paramount.

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Step 1

Compile a list of all of your income and expenses. Make sure this list includes all money coming in and going out. Include all sources of income such as regular wages or unemployment. Include all expenses such as rent, car payments, insurance premiums, utilities, child care expenses, food, transportation, medical expenses and other monthly living costs.


Step 2

Search federal, state and local government websites or call their housing assistance phone numbers and ask about rent assistance programs. Do not get discouraged when one agency does not have anything to offer—simply move on to the next and always ask for guidance on who to contact. Keep a list of everyone you have talked to so you know who to call next.


Step 3

Contact other associations and organizations if you have special needs. For example, if you or a member of your household is battling cancer, you can contact the American Cancer Society, which offers rent assistance for those undergoing cancer treatment.

Make sure to ask for additional ideas from such associations as they can provide other advice and avenues for rent assistance.


Step 4

Apply for rent assistance through the agencies and organizations you have talked to. Do not apply for programs you do not qualify for.

Apply for all help available to you. Include your completed application when applying and any additional information that is requested. Since rent assistance is income-dependent and based on financial hardship, make sure to be thorough and accurate in providing proof of both income and expenses.


Step 5

Stay in contact with all agencies and organizations through which you applied for help. Respond promptly to all communication and quickly provide any information they may request. Do not get frustrated if you are asked for additional information, as it is important for such programs to make sure those applying and receiving help are the ones who need it most.


Keep detailed notes and lists to avoid having to rely on just your memory.


Never lie on an assistance application to receive help. This is considered fraud, and the consequences are far greater than any assistance you might receive.

Things You'll Need

  • Copy of rent agreement

  • Bank statements

  • Copies of utility bills

  • Pay stubs

  • Tax returns