FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

How can the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service help me?

How can I support your work?

Where do I find information about buying a home?

What are my rights as a renter?

How do I get assistance in getting repairs made to a house that is owned by a low-income person?

Where do I find information about developing or building housing for low-income families?

Where do I find information about the colonias in Texas?

I live in subsidized housing now and I want to move to another city. How do I transfer my housing assistance?

How do “rent to own” housing programs work?

What can I do about the housing crisis?

How do I keep up with housing issues?



1. We are a private (not government) nonprofit organization that works on housing and community development issues. Find out more about what TxLIHIS does..

Do not be discouraged: if you don’t find the housing you are looking for at first, every member of Congress has a staff member whose job it is to assist their constituents with problems such as the ones you may be facing. This person should know the local community and how you can find the services you need.

To find your member of Congress, go to http://congress.org/congressorg/home/ and enter your ZIP code in the “Contact Congress” box . Then click the “info” link to get the phone number of the main district office.  Another link will give you the numbers of additional district offices; call the one that is nearest to you. Ask for the person who handles constituent services. Explain your situation, and ask for suggestions on how to best access affordable housing in your district.  The constituent caseworker should be able to point you in the right direction or suggest resources in your area. TOP OF PAGE


2. 1) Read our blog;
2) Join us at our annual Texas Houser Awards luncheon and fundraiser to enjoy great barbeque and publicly recognize the individuals who make an outstanding contribution to housing each year. Subscribers to our newsletter will receive an invitation to the awards ceremony. Contact Kristin Carlisle at kristin@texashousing.org if you wish to attend;
Make a donation to support our work. TOP OF PAGE


3. We do not build, own or sell any housing.

Habitat for Humanity helps low-income people buy a house. You can can find information about Habitat for Humanity on their Web site at http://www.habitat.org

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a Web site with some information on buying a home http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/buying/buying.cfm.

HUD has a publication on home buying that you may find useful. Call HUD at 1-800-569-4287 and ask for the booklet entitled “Buying Your Home – Settlement Costs and Helpful Information” or view the booklet on-line at http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/res/sfhrestc.cfm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service homebuyer housing programs are described at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/tx/sfh.htm.

You may also want to try Fannie Mae Homepath, at 800-732-6643, or on the Web at http://www.homepath.com TOP OF PAGE


4. We receive many questions from Texas tenants about their rights and have worked with Legal Services attorneys to create a Web site that provides general information on this issue. We are not attorneys and cannot answer specific questions about your situation.

There are two tenants’ rights organizations in Texas that may be able to assist you.

Texas Tenants Union
4228 Main St
Dallas, TX 75226
(214) 823-3486
ttu@mail.ont.com

The Austin Tenants’ Council
1619 E. Cesar Chavez
Austin, TX 78702
Counseling Line (only for residents of the city of Austin and Travis County)
(512) 474-1961 (M-F 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.)

The Austin Tenants’ Council offers tenant-landlord counseling online, via email. Submit your query to questions@commoner.com. They require that you provide the following information along with your question:
• Your Full Name
• Your Address (include City, State and Zip Code)
• Whether you are a tenant, landlord, etc. TOP OF PAGE


5. We are a private (not government) nonprofit organization that works on housing and community development issues. We do not make loans or grants to help people repair their homes.

Resources to help owners repair low-income housing may be available from private lenders, and the local, state, or federal government. To find resources in your area you will need to contact your local banks as well as your city and county government offices.

The state office that makes some funding available for repairs is:

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs

Telephone: (512) 475-3800
http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us

The federal government has two agencies that provide some funding for housing development: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service.

In urban areas contact:

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
http://www.hud.gov

The regional HUD office for the state of Texas is:

Fort Worth Regional Office (HUD)
http://www.hud.gov/local/tx/working/localoffices.cfm

HUD has a web page that describes their home repair programs at http://www.hud.gov/owning/index.cfm

In small cities and Rural Areas contact the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service at:

Rural Housing Service National Office
http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rhs/index.html

The Rural Housing Service State office is:

United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Texas State Office
http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/tx/

The Rural Housing Service has a web page that describe their home repair grants and a Web page that describes their home repair loans. TOP OF PAGE


6. We do not build, fund, own or manage any housing.

Resources to build low-income housing may be available from private lenders, state and local government and the federal government. To find resources in your area you will need to contact your local banks as well as your city and county government offices. The state office that makes some funding available is:

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
Physical Address:
Waller Creek Office Building
507 Sabine Street
Austin, TX 78701

Mailing Address:
P.O. BOX 13941
Austin, TX 78711-3941

Telephone: (512) 475-3800
http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us

The federal government has two agencies that provide some funding for housing development: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service.

In urban areas contact:

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
http://www.hud.gov

The regional HUD office for the state of Texas is:

Fort Worth Regional Office (HUD)
http://www.hud.gov/local/tx/working/localoffices.cfm

For small cities and rural areas, contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service at:

Rural Housing Service National Office
http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rhs/index.html

The Rural Housing Service State office is:

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Texas State Office
http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/tx/

Finally, below is a list of nongovernmental organizations that will provide information to developers interested in constructing housing for low-income renters and owners:
• The Enterprise Foundation, 410/964-1230 http://www.enterprisefoundation.org
• The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), 202/785-2908 http://www.liscnet.org/
• National Council of State Housing Agencies, 202/624-7710 http://www.ncsha.org TOP OF PAGE


7. Our Border Housing Coalition web site at http://www.bordercoalition.org TOP OF PAGE


8. If you are receiving assistance from the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program and wish to transfer to another city, first speak to your apartment manager or housing authority (HA) to learn all the details.

For the first year, you must live in the same area where you applied and and received Section 8 assistance from your local HA. After one year, you may move to another city or state, provided your income still qualifies you for Section 8 in the city where you are moving.

To summarize, this is the process:

1) Inform the HA that you want to move to another town or city.
2) The HA must determine whether you are income-eligible for Section 8 in the new town or city.
3) The HA tells you how to contact and request assistance from the new HA in the area where you wish to move.
4) You must promptly contact the receiving HA and comply with their procedures for incoming portable families.
5) If the new HA requires you to be re-certified, promptly provide the information the HA requires.
Note: The new housing authority may not delay issuing you a voucher unless re-certification is necessary to determine income eligibility.

Remember to talk to your housing authority counselor or apartment manager before you take any actions related to moving. If you don’t, you may risk losing your housing assistance altogether. TOP OF PAGE


9. “Rent to own” deals are frequently misused home financing mechanisms whereby the seller requires the buyer to put down money for an “option” to eventually buy the property. Often, these deals are laden with excessive late fees and high interest rates. TxLIHIS recently worked with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Texas Representative Harold Dutton, and State Senator Eddie Lucio to pass legislation that provides some protections to buyers in “rent to own” arrangements.

However, we have never seen a “rent to own” home buying offer that was anything other than a bad deal for a low-income homebuyer. We urge consumers to avoid any dealings with people offering such financing arrangements. TOP OF PAGE


10. Think globally. Act locally.

Globally: Educate yourself about the policy issues and speak out as a member of the National Low Income Housing Coalition or as a supporter of the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service. Contact your representatives in Congress, urging them to make affordable housing a public policy priority. Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter.

Locally: Work with your church or community organization to advocate decent housing for all. Think about getting hands on by supporting a non-profit community development corporation in your city or organize your own. Volunteer with a homeless service organization or local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Meet with members of your city council and ask them to support initiatives that will make your city or town an affordable place for everyone to live. TOP OF PAGE


11. For Texas Housing issues click on the “Learn” tab at the top of this page. For in-depth stories on select current issues look through the back issues of our newsletter Housing Matters.

For information about national housing issues we recommend the National Low Income Housing Coalition.http://nlihc.org TOP OF PAGE