Affordable Rental Housing

How can I find Affordable Housing?
Finding housing on a budget can be a challenging and frustrating process. This guide provides some basic information on finding cost-effective housing and navigating the different types of affordable housing available.

Subsidized Housing
When a portion of the rent is paid by a social service or government agency, it is considered Subsidized Housing.  The South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA) administers subsidized housing programs that provide affordable housing for low-income families, seniors, individuals and persons with disabilities:

  • Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV): program run by the federal government, provides housing subsidies for families and individuals, offers two main programs:
    • Project Based Section 8 – specific apartment rents or units (typically privately owned) in this program have adjusted prices so the tenant pays no more than 30% of their income and the federal government pays the difference. Tenant always pays 30% of income even if cost of rent increases.
    • Section 8 Tenant Based Vouchers – helps pay for rent in privately owned housing that accepts housing choice vouchers (HCV). Tenants have the option to choose a housing unit with a landlord that will accept the voucher.
  • Public Housing – housing owned and managed by the government. Developments are wholly dedicated to low-income individuals. See HUD’s Affordable Housing Search to find public housing in your area.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) subsidizes rural multi-family complexes; very similar to Project Based Section 8 but focused in rural areas. Click here to find USDA rural multi-family complexes in your area.
  • There are also housing options available for those within specific populations or those facing specific circumstances (i.e. homelessness, domestic abuse, substance use disorders, HIV/AIDS). Call 211 to learn more.

Low-Cost Housing
Housing in which the developer or landlord lists the rent below the fair market rate. These independent housing developments may or may not have eligibility qualifications.  SDHDA’s Rental Housing Search provides affordable rental housing options in each community throughout the state, including both low-income and subsidized options.

Am I Eligible?
Your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) will decide if you are eligible for a HCV or public housing based on your income, family size, and assets. There are specific income limits that you must meet to be eligible. If you are eligible, you will either be assisted or put on a waiting list and contacted when housing becomes available.

How do I apply for Subsidized Housing?
To apply for housing that has income eligibility you will have to fill out a form that includes information on family size, income, and assets; you should be prepared to present documentation (i.e. birth certificates, tax returns, etc.) during the application process. Applications will be processed through the local PHA or through the organization that manages the affordable housing property. Your first stop should be your local PHA who will know what is available in your area and what application process you may need to follow. Here is a link to the Public Housing Authorities (PHA) websites for South Dakota.

What Happens if I’m put on the Waiting List?
Due to the high demand for affordable rental housing, many people who apply for subsidized housing are put on a waiting list.  Some remain on the waiting list for several months or years. If you get confirmation that you are on the waiting list, there are some important things to remember:

  • While on the waiting list you may be sent notices from time-to-time asking if you are still interested in being on the list. Make sure you respond by the stated deadline or you may risk being taken off the list.
  • To ensure you receive any notices, if your address or phone number changes send written notification of your updated contact information to each place you submitted an application. Also send written notification if other changes occur that may affect your housing situation (i.e. changes in employment, family size, etc.)

There are specific groups (including those facing homelessness, those paying more than 50% of income for rent, or those with very limited resources) that may receive preference for affordable housing. Ask your local PHA about preferences to see if your situation qualifies. If any changes occur while on the waiting list (i.e. income changes) contact your local PHA so they can review your position. Once you reach the top of the list you will be notified to schedule an interview.

Where else can I look for accessible rental housing?

  • Local ads: Look at newspapers or community bulletin boards at local community centers, gas stations, and coffee shops where private landlords might advertise available properties.
  • Local property management companies: Search “property management near me” online or look for property management companies in a phone book to ask about accessible renting options and ask if a unit will be opening soon.
  • Rental listing websites: Many websites can be used to find rental housing, but the Better Business Bureau warns about rental scams through online listings. The following websites are recommended by multiple landlord/tenant-focused websites.

For more information, call 211 or search our online database:


Disclaimer: This HelpSheet is developed by the Helpline Center. HelpSheets provide a brief overview of the designated topic. For more information, call 211 or text your zip code to 898211.
Updated: March 2024