In a troubled economy, many Americans struggle to pay for even the most basic of needs. But when a pregnancy is thrown into the equation, basics such as housing, utilities and food suddenly become much more urgent and a source of additional stress. It can be difficult for a single mother or low-income family to know where to turn. Fortunately, most states, including Texas, have some sort of assistance programs to help low-income individuals or families pay for their basic necessities.
In Texas, aid is administered by a variety of sources, including state agencies like the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), federal agencies like the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and nongovernmental organizations like churches and nonprofit agencies. Several types of aid are available, including subsidized housing, temporary rental assistance and low-interest loans that may be paid back over time. The type of aid available and the qualifications for such aid vary depending on the guidelines of the organization providing the aid.
Several types of housing aid are available through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. This assistance is provided on the basis of economic need and does not single out pregnant women; however, a pregnant woman who is homeless or has been involuntarily displaced (such as being kicked out by parents or leaving an abusive partner) may be moved up on the waiting list.
There are three basic types of aid available through the HUD program: privately owned subsidized housing, public housing administered by local housing agencies and a housing choice voucher program. The voucher program may be the most attractive option for an expectant mother, as it allows her to choose her own housing. A voucher recipient may live in a single-family home, townhouse or apartment and is not limited to public housing projects, which are often plagued by crime or other problems.
Although these programs are funded by the federal government, they are administered by local public housing agencies (PSAs). Texas has more than a dozen PSAs located throughout the state. Check the Department of Housing and Urban Development website at www.hud.gov to see which one serves your area. Your local PSA can also give you information on the income guidelines and program requirements, as they can vary depending on location.
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs also administers its own housing assistance programs, separate from the federal HUD program. One of the types of aid offered by the state is the Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program. This assistance is available for up to two years and provides the individual with a subsidy to help pay her monthly rent. Like the federal HUD vouchers, these grants are portable, meaning the individual is allowed to choose her own housing.
These grants are administered on the basis of need; however, the recipient must participate in a self-sufficiency program in order to continue to qualify for aid. These programs include job training, college degree programs, drug dependency classes or parenting training. Which program the aid recipient is enrolled in depends on his or her personal situation. Check out the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website at www.tdhca.state.tx.us or a local facility for further information.
Not all housing assistance comes from a state or federal agency. Most states, including Texas, have a variety of charities and non-profit organizations that offer assistance to people in need, including rental or housing assistance. Many churches, synagogues and mosques provide temporary shelter for the homeless or those in danger of becoming homeless, and a variety of religious or secular nonprofits can also provide assistance with rent or other bills. Typically, however, these organizations do not have the resources of the federal or state governments and are limited in the amount and duration of aid they can provide. The Internet can help you find nonprofits operating in your area that may be able to assist you.
The Bottom Line
Bringing a child into the world can be scary, especially if you need assistance and feel like you have nowhere to turn. Knowing that there are organizations out there that can assist you will hopefully provide you with a degree of emotional as well as financial stability, so you can be sure your child will have the best start in life. For further information, consult one of the organizations listed below.