How to find housing for immigrants
and refugees

Learn how to find a place to live in the USA.
Short-term housing | Rent a home | Own a home
Find housing and help | Know your rights 


refugee woman in front of her new apartment

The United States is experiencing a housing crisis. This means there are not enough homes for individuals and families in the USA. It has caused home prices to increase. This makes it hard for new immigrants and refugees to find an affordable place to live. There are resources to help you.

Different ways you can find a place to live include:

  • Search for short-term housing
  • Rent an apartment or house
  • Buy an apartment or house

Short-term housing 

Short-term housing is a place you live temporarily. It is for a short period of time, usually from a few days to 6 months. Options for this may include a:

  • Hotel
  • Shared apartment or house    
  • Homeless shelter
  • Transitional housing program 

Both shelters and transitional housing provide a temporary place to stay for those that are homeless. Transitional housing also offers help in finding a long-term place to live. Your immigration status should not affect whether you can stay at either.

Rent a home

A large number of people rent apartments or houses in the United States. You can rent a place from a private owner or a property management company.

All situations can be different but you can usually expect that you will have to:

  • Fill out an application that asks about your income, work, and past rentals. It also asks for your social security number to check your background and credit. 
  • Sign a lease agreement if your application is approved. This is a legal contract between the tenant and landlord. You agree to the dates of the rental, cost, and conditions. Leases are usually for one year. 
  • Pay a security deposit and the first month’s rent.
  • Pay rent monthly as well as utilities, such as electricity. 

A tenant is a person who is renting a home. A landlord is a person who rents the home to the tenant.

If you are having trouble being approved for a rental, you can have someone cosign for you or find a roommate who can apply.

If you can’t afford a place to live, Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) are a good place to start. The U.S. government offers public or subsidized housing with lower rent. Housing vouchers can also help pay for rent. 

These federal housing benefits are available to:

  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Humanitarian parolees (including those from Afghanistan and Ukraine)
  • Grantees of withholding of removal 

If you are undocumented or have temporary immigration status, you are not eligible for these programs but you can live with a family member who is.

Sharing a rental with other people can also help you afford a place to live.

Buy a home

The majority of people in the United States own a home. 

  • People usually use a real estate agent to look for a home.
  • Many homeowners get a mortgage or loan to help buy a home.

Find resources for buying a home with Refugee Housing Solutions and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Find housing and help

There are many ways you can look for a place to live. There are websites and places in your community to check, such as bulletin boards.

Some websites you can try include:

  • Short-term housing: hotels.com, Airbnb
  • Shared housing: Facebook marketplace, craigslist, roommates.com
  • Rentals: Zillow, HotPads, RentCare, 4stay, apartments.com

There are also different government agencies and non-profit organizations that can help you find housing and help you pay for rent, loans, or utilities. 

Resource
Offers
Search for housing help for immigrants and refugees in your area.
Counselors across the country provide free or low-cost advice on finding affordable housing, renting, or buying a home.
A federal government agency that offers a variety of resources for getting housing and rental assistance.
Help people facing homelessness find resources in their communities. 
Lower-cost housing for seniors, people with disabilities, and those with low income.
A listing of affordable housing, public housing, and homeless resources by your location.
Helps people behind on their rent, mortgage payments, and bills because of the pandemic.
Provides housing support to Afghan evacuees.
Information for refugees looking for housing. 
Helps refugees and asylees find safe and affordable housing, set up their homes, and pay for rent and utilities. 
Helps people in rural areas find safe and affordable housing and repair their homes.
Social Serve
877.428.8844
A nonprofit with a call center in English and Spanish that connects people to housing.
Find transitional housing by state.
Information on affordable housing, buying a home, and help for seniors and people with disabilities.
Call 211 to ask about resources that can help you pay for housing expenses and utility bills. 

Know your rights 

If you rent a home in the United States, you have certain tenant rights by law. These can be different based on what state you live in. You have a right to a habitable home. This means the home must be safe for you to live in. Examples of unsafe living conditions include the presence of toxic mold, a leaky roof, or an infestation of mice.

Find tips on being a good tenant

Discrimination

U.S. law prohibits housing discrimination. It is against the law for a landlord or realtor to mistreat you because of your race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, and disability. Your immigration status should not affect your housing rights.

If you believe your housing rights have been violated, you can file a complaint.

Safety 

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Information on this page comes from USA.gov, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other trusted sources. It is intended for guidance and is updated as often as possible.

USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice.