Finding low-cost housing in the District

October 26, 2018

Rents in Washington, DC are expensive. On average, a one bedroom apartment can go for more than $2,000/month. That’s more than $800 higher than the national average. Unfortunately, if you’re seeking low-cost housing, your options can be scarce.

Assessing your need:

Meeting your budget might require some changes to your housing criteria. For instance, you might have to change your ideal location because rents tend to be higher downtown and in NW DC. You might also need to choose a smaller space, get roommates, or cut back on other spending.

When looking for housing, you might have success on the open market. Free magazines, like Apartment Guide and Apartment Showcase often can be found at metro stops. Other online sources include Trulia and DC Housing Search.

DC’s Housing Lottery

If you can afford $1,000 to $1,500 per month, you might find relief through DC’s Inclusionary Zoning Affordable Housing Program. In this program, housing is assigned by lottery. To enter the lottery, you must take a class and complete an online form. Find the form at the website of the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (https://dhcd.dc.gov/service/inclusionary-zoning-affordable-housing-program).

Inclusionary Zoning Affordable Housing Class Providers

GREATER WASHINGTON URBAN LEAGUE
2901 14th St., NW
Washington, DC 20009
202-265-8200

HOUSING COUNSELING SERVICES
2410 17th St., NW
Washington, DC 20009
202-667-7006

LATINO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CENTER
641 S St., NW
Washington, DC 20009
202-588-5102

LYDIA HOUSE
4101 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20032
202-373-1050

MARSHALL HEIGHTS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION
3939 Benning Rd., NE
Washington, DC 20019
202-650-5604

UNIVERSITY LEGAL SERVICES
3939 Benning Rd., NE
Washington, DC 20019
202-650-5631

UNIVERSITY LEGAL SERVICES
220 I St., NE, Suite 230
Washington, DC 20002
202-547-4747

UNIVERSITY LEGAL SERVICES
1800 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20020
202-889-2196

Other Housing Options

The government offers several programs to help older adults with low income or people with disabilities afford rent. However, all of these programs have waiting lists. Residents of these programs pay about a third of their income in rent.

Many buildings offer these programs, and each building keeps its own waiting list. Nationwide listings can be found online. The local nonprofit Bread for the City also keeps a list. Phone them at 202-265-2400, and ask for their Housing Access Program.

Help for Urgent Housing Needs

If you’re behind on your rent, you may receive financial help from DC’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). This program helps renters with short-term needs. To qualify, you must have low income. Four nonprofits partner with the city to offer this service.

CATHOLIC CHARITIES
The Southeast Family Center
2812 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20020
202- 338-3100

SALVATION ARMY
National Capital Area Command
1434 Harvard St., NW Suite B
Washington, DC 20009
202- 332-5000

HOUSING COUNSELING SERVICES
2410 17th St., NW
Washington, DC 20009
202-667-7006

VIRGINIA WILLIAMS FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER
920 Rhode Island Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20018
202-312-5510

If you’re facing eviction, a lawyer may also help stop slow the eviction process. Slowing the process gives renters more time to find other options. Both free and low-cost legal aid is available. See our Fact Sheet on Legal Assistance for resources.

For older adults needing housing now, options are scarce. Homeless shelters make up the bulk of emergency housing for older adults. Survivors of elder abuse may find alternate emergency housing, but only if there are openings. Find homeless shelters by calling the city’s Shelter Hotline at 1-800-535-7252. Survivors of elder abuse who need housing may contact Elder Safe at 202-541-3950, or Kuehner Place at 202-797-8806, ext. 1311.

Help for Veterans Experiencing Homelessness

Veterans may find help via the HUD-VASH program. This program also has a waiting list. To qualify, the veteran must be experiencing homelessness. Veterans must receive their health care from Veteran Affairs or qualify to do so. A veteran also must need and accept help from a case manager. To apply, call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-424-3838.

Thanks to a grant from the DC Office on Aging, Iona has a new Fact Sheet that outlines low-cost housing options in DC (as of October 2018).

Download, save, or print them here:

For additional fact sheets on critical topics like memory loss, legal services, and more, visit our Resource Library.

 

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