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Live in rent free apartments or housing.

Families that have zero income may be able to live rent free using the main federal government housing voucher program known as section 8. While it may be difficult to get an apartment as the application process in stringent and there is often a waiting list, this may be an option for anyone with no money to their name.

The program is run by a local Public Housing Authority, or PHA. These non-profit organizations work with the federal government Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, to set the guidelines. They also determine who can qualify and set the criteria over what type of income as well as assets will be considered.

Since the HUD section 8 housing program was created to help very low income families afford a home, by default individuals with zero income may also qualify. As they will easily mean the thresholds in place. This will in effect mean they will be able to live rent free in some form of government approved home or apartment. However the voucher will normally not pay for the security deposit or move in expense, although exceptions can be made. Note there are also some agencies and programs that often offer low income housing without a waiting list.

While there may in fact be rent free housing available, it is very difficult to get. The process is as follows. However it is always recommended to check with a local PHA for the terms and conditions in a local county, and this is very important for those people who are seeking how to find free housing. If someone needs more immediate support, they apply for other programs that offer help paying rent.

  • The applicant needs proof of income (or lack of it) from all sources. This will be verified with local courts, DSS offices, and income tax records.
  • Proof of identification is needed, for both the applicant and all household members. Most of the rent free housing is for US citizens only or those with green cards or other papers.
  • Free housing is only an option for American citizens or eligible immigrants.
  • There can be an accelerated approval/application process for the physically or mentally disabled.

Note this form of assistance is not given to anyone with a history of evictions for drug-related criminal activity. In addition to that, section 8 will not pay the entire rental amount due for anyone that has been tried and convicted of dealing methamphetamine in the past.




Anyone with a very low or no income can apply for free housing. The program will normally assist the most vulnerable households. Some clients include, but are not limited too, women fleeing domestic violence, a tenant who spouse just passed away unexpectedly, people recovering from divorce, or an individual that became very sick and has missed time at work. Other people may also be able to access an apartment that does not charge them a rental payment, but those tend to be some of the groups assisted.

Housing that does not charge the tenant any monthly rent is available for immigrants as well. But they need to be found eligible from the local public housing authority. Only then will a section 8 voucher be able to help them with their costs. Even if the applicant, such as a parent, is illegally in the country, provided that other members of the home meet eligibility immigration status then they may still be able to qualify.

Any immigrant applying for a rent free apartment needs to have their application verified with INS. They will need to sign multiple forms as well as consent letters. Of course all financial terms still need to be met, such as the household can't have any income or savings available to them.

Income sources reviewed when applying for free housing

The federal government will pay the entire rent amount due to the landlord when the applicant has both no cash available to them and no income coming in the door. There will be a comprehensive review done of the applicant's finances. The local PHA will need to audit the application. Tenants can't live rent free if they have any money to their name. If they can afford to pay anything for their bills from any source of income, they will need to contribute to the cost of the housing.





Income needs to be reported not just from a job, but also from any public assistance, child support, etc. These will be all of the sources reviewed. The applicant will need to report any money they receive from salary from a job, Social Security, Child Support, Unemployment, Tips, Pension, SSI, Alimony, Disability, Welfare, Worker’s Compensation, Gambling, or a Retirement Fund. There may be other categories considered as well.

Families living in poverty will not have any government benefits counted towards their household income. However when someone is applying for a rent free Section 8 approved apartment, the PHA will need to assess any financial aid received as part of SNAP food stamps, TANF, SSI disability, and any cash aid type programs. While many of these are in fact time limited, they will be reviewed as part of the application process. As noted, those forms of government aid will not impact the families or individuals ability to move into free housing.

Waiting list for rent free apartments

While it may be possible to live rent free, it takes a very long time to both apply and for a home to be made available. There is often a waiting list in place. Qualified applicants are normally placed on it. Each PHA has only a limited inventory of homes that are used for this program. But there may be some units designated for single moms or dads that are more kid friendly.

Any free housing program is not intended to solve a crisis but it is rather used to address long term needs. In fact, it may take years for a place to become available. During that time-frame the family can always search for other forms of assistance. However, as noted above, there are some other charities as well as government programs that can provide rent free or affordable housing without a waiting list.

There is one advantage to this time-frame though. That is the fact that it will allow the applicant time to save money for paying a security deposit. It will also allow them to get new job skills and increase their income. As these free housing programs from HUD do not normally pay for that expense. Or an applicant can use the opportunity to apply for security deposit assistance.





To learn more and find how to apply in order live rent free in government subsidized housing, contact a local Public Housing Agency. The search box above can be used to search for section 8 PHA by state as well as county.

By Jon McNamara

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