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Housing Choices – Finding a Place to Live

This webpage serves as an introduction to the full range of subsidized housing options available across the state of Texas. It is intended to assist you in navigating housing options through 2-1-1. Please note that not all housing options and/or services will be available in every community in the state. In most cases, services may have waitlists or may not be offered in your community. The information on this page is general; specific housing options and/or service programs may offer different services and have different eligibility requirements.

If this is an emergency, please contact 911.

Homeless Shelter: The primary purpose is to provide a temporary shelter (typically not longer than 30-days) for households experiencing homelessness. These types of shelters can be for particular groups such as domestic violence survivors or separated by gender or family composition.  

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Transitional Housing: The primary purpose is to provide households experiencing homelessness with temporary housing stability and support in order to successfully move into and maintain permanent housing. The length of stay in transitional housing varies by program.

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Rapid Re-housing: The primary purpose is to help households experiencing homelessness quickly move into permanent housing. Unlike other housing programs, Rapid Re-housing provides shorter-term assistance to households that don’t need intensive or ongoing support to stay housed. The particular combination of financial assistance, such as rent and move-in assistance, and housing-focused services, such as help with finding housing and case management will vary depending on household needs.

Search for assistance with Family Permanent Supportive Housing

Group Home: A group home is a small residential facility that provides care or supervision for people with disabilities or older adults. There is often a limitation in the number of individuals that may reside in the home at a time. It is a term often used to refer to many shared living arrangements. Below are some examples:

  • Assisted Living Facilities: The primary purpose is to provide a combination of housing, personal care services, and health care designed to respond to individuals who need assistance with normal daily activities in a way that promotes maximum independence. The housing is for people over the age of 65 and those with minimal intellectual/physical disabilities. They provide a range of services—from direct care (including assistance in daily living such as eating, bathing, and dressing) to minimal support only when the resident requests it—depending on the agency.  This housing requires residents to pay for both housing and services. 

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  • Boarding Homes: Texas defines a “boarding home” as a facility that houses 3 or more people with disabilities or elderly persons who are unrelated to the owner of an establishment that may provide food and other support services. This type of housing may or may not be affordable to individuals with low-income. This type of housing is largely unlicensed, unregulated except in a few cities or counties. 
    • The state is aware of several municipalities including, but not limited to: Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. Please check with them for more information.
    • Local Mental Health Authorities (LMHAs) and Local Behavioral Health authorities (LBHAs) may have lists of boarding homes in their area: click here

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  • Half-Way Houses: In Texas, Halfway Houses refers to dwellings where residents are re-entering the community from jail or prison. Residents are often required to pay at least 30 percent of their income toward program fees; sometimes the money they pay in fees is returned to them when they leave. 

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  • Alcohol Use Related Recovery Homes: The term “recovery residence” is used to describe a range of recovery-oriented housing options and services for individuals with substance use disorders. The number of residents in a house may range from six to fifteen; there are houses for men, women, and houses which accept women with children. The National Association of Recovery Residences (https://narronline.org) established different levels of recovery residences:  
    • Level I (Peer-Run): Democratically-run recovery homes like Oxford Houses. 
    • Level II (Monitored): Residences with house manager or senior resident that provide house rules and peer-run groups.
    • Level III (Supervised): Residential settings with administrative oversight for service providers, offering life skill development resources and utilizing community-based clinical services. 

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Permanent Supportive Housing: The primary purpose of this type of housing program is to provide permanent, affordable housing with voluntary services for households experiencing homelessness. Households are allowed to live in their homes as long as they meet the basic obligations of their lease and pay their rent. Households must be continuously offered the support services that they may need to maintain housing. 

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Low Income/Subsidized Rental Housing: Public housing authorities (PHAs) receive federal funds to administer housing subsidies for low-income households. PHAs accept applications, manage waiting lists, and administer project-based housing (such as Public Housing) at specific locations or tenant-based rental assistance (such as Housing Choice Voucher program) in the community. Most PHAs have lengthy waiting lists. In addition, PHAs may direct their limited resources to prioritized groups with greater needs, such as individuals with disabilities or households experiencing homelessness. 

All federal housing programs require applicants to be a citizen or a noncitizen that has an eligible immigration status. If accepted, an applicant may be required to complete paperwork with the PHA, sign a lease with the landlord, and pay rent based on their income. If an applicant meets the specific program eligibility criteria, their previous rental history, credit and criminal background will be checked to ensure they will be a good tenant. You have the right to appeal a denial by a local PHA or landlord.

Learn more about How to Appeal a Section-8 Denial

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Overcoming Barriers to Accessing Housing

Obtaining ID: Most housing options require applicants to provide identification. In order to obtain a new Texas Identification Card, individuals must submit an application and an application fee to the Department of Public Safety (DPS).  Applicants will also need to provide DPS proof of:

  • U.S. Citizenship,
  • Texas residency,
  • Identity, and
  • Social Security Number.

Some public libraries, faith-based agencies, and other organizations may provide support and resources to obtain the necessary documentation to apply for a Texas Identification Card. Please refer to the Texas Department of Public Safety homepage or call 211 to find resources for obtaining an identification card in your area. 

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Addressing Criminal Backgrounds: Individuals with disabilities who have criminal histories struggle to find housing. A request for reasonable accommodation may be appropriate if those histories are related to the individual’s disability. http://ifhcidaho.org/resources/guide-to-reasonable-accommodation-in-housing-under-the-fair-housing-act/. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued guidance that states with blanket bans on renting to people with criminal records are in violation of the Fair Housing Act, and that landlords can be sued and face penalties for discrimination.  

Addressing Poor Credit and Rental Histories: Individuals with disabilities who have histories of poor credit or rental histories struggle to find housing. A request for reasonable accommodation may be appropriate if those histories are related to the individual’s disability. 

Learn more about Reasonable Accommodations under the Fair Housing Act

Search for assistance with Consumer Credit Counseling

Search for assistance with Landlord/Tenant Dispute Resolution

Appeal Process: Individuals who have been denied housing should appeal directly by sending a reasonable accommodation request to the landlord, or Public Housing Authority when applicable. This request should be submitted in a timely manner, as there is often a limited timeframe in which this needs to happen. You can make your reasonable accommodation request orally. However, it is best to submit your appeal and any reasonable accommodation requests in writing so that there is no misunderstanding as to the specifics of the request. You are not required to use the housing provider’s forms. You should sign and date the request, and keep a copy in case there is a dispute regarding the request. 

Learn more about How to Appeal a Section 8 Denial

Search for assistance with Housing Discrimination Assistance

Other Important Things to Know

Affordable Housing: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development  – federal government – defines affordable housing as housing that costs no more than 30 percent of a household’s income.

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Tenant Rights: Tenant rights govern your living space, your use of it, and your landlord’s responsibilities. These tenant rights protect you legally and define a good working relationship with your landlord. Understanding them and how to enforce them if necessary can help you be a better tenant, ensure that your living space is in fact livable, and provide genuine peace of mind. Understanding your lease and the Texas Property Code that covers Residential Tenancies are the two pillars of tenant-landlord rights and responsibilities in Texas. Additional protections come from other federal, state and local laws, and additional laws are in place to protect people with disabilities. 

Learn more about Texas Property Code

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Fair Housing: Fair housing refers to the prohibition of discrimination in housing because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability as required by the U.S. Fair Housing Act and the Texas Fair Housing Act. Landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications under fair housing law.

  • Reasonable Accommodations: A change or modification of a rule, policy, practice, or service to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. This includes the application and screening process.
  • Reasonable Modifications: A modification to a dwelling made to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling. 

Search for assistance with Housing Discrimination Assistance

Making Fair Housing Complaint: The Texas Workforce Commission (“TWC”) (www.twc.state.tx.us) is the state agency in Texas responsible for enforcing the Texas Fair Housing Act. To learn more about making a complaint, visit the How to File a Complaint page. Individuals who have a criminal history that is related to a disability may also be able to submit a reasonable accommodation request. 

Learn more about Reasonable Accommodations under the Fair Housing Act

Coordinated Entry: Coordinated entry describes a system used to assess individuals experiencing homelessness and to prioritize service delivery in a coordinated way across a given community. Households experiencing homelessness are assessed with a common assessment tool to match them to the best housing intervention and make appropriate referrals. The coordinated entry system is governed by the local Continuum of Care Lead Agency. Each Continuum of Care Lead Agency is responsible for coordinating a spectrum of resources available for people experiencing a housing crisis. It also describes a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals. 

Learn more about Coordinated Entry

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Housing First: Housing First is an approach to quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to entry, such as sobriety, treatment, or service participation requirements. Supportive services are offered to maximize housing stability and prevent returns to homelessness as opposed to addressing predetermined treatment goals prior to permanent housing entry. Programs that use a Housing First approach have been proven to be highly effective for ending homelessness.

Supportive Housing Services

Service-Enriched Housing: integrated, affordable, and accessible housing that offers residents the opportunity to receive on-site or off-site health-related services and other supports—such as help with personal care, grocery shopping, and housekeeping–to foster independent living and decision-making for older adults and individuals with disabilities. For more information on service enriched housing, see videos on this housing model at the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website. 

Pre- and Post-Tenancy Support Services: These are services that help individuals obtain and maintain housing. Pre-tenancy support services include helping individuals apply for housing and housing subsidies, advocating with landlords to accept individuals as tenants, and assisting individuals in understanding lease agreements. Post-tenancy support services help people remain in housing and can include education on tenant rights and responsibilities as well as working with landlords to resolve landlord/tenant disputes.

Tenancy support services are offered by a wide range of providers—the most common of which are providers working with individuals experiencing homelessness and those helping individuals with disabilities and/or older adults obtain housing.   

Peer Support: Peer support is when someone with lived experience gives encouragement and assistance to help someone with mental illness or a substance use disorder achieve long-term recovery. Peers offer emotional support, share knowledge, teach skills, provide practical assistance, and connect people with resources, opportunities and communities of support. Peer support can help individuals with disabilities find, apply for and learn skills to help them remain in housing. This service is now a benefit available to Medicaid beneficiaries. 

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Recovery Support Groups: Support or “self-help” groups can be a vital part of the recovery process for people who misuse drugs or alcohol. These groups are designed to provide a supportive space for people who have faced the same challenges or had similar experiences. In a support group, people can share their stories, receive encouragement, and hear about ways to manage their recovery.

Self-help groups include programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and SMART Recovery as well as family, church, and community networks. In addition to support groups for people dealing with substance misuse, other groups offer support for their family members and friends. These groups provide advice and encouragement for people whose lives and relationships have been disrupted by substance misuse, as well as those who want to be helpful in their loved ones’ recovery.

Search for assistance with General Addictions/Substance Use Disorder Support Groups