Learn About Housing Resources

The Section 8 Housing Program is designed to assist low-income families, elderly adults and disabled people. It is funded by the federal government and eligibility depends on where families and applicants live and whether their incomes fall below the average income level in their areas. If an applicant is disabled, it also depends on how much of his or her income goes toward medical expenses. In order to determine whether a candidate qualifies, his or her family size, credit, financial obligations and applicable criminal history or eviction history are taken into consideration.

Applicants who qualify will receive monetary benefits to help pay rent. In general, a public housing agency (PHA) will provide them with a housing choice voucher, which goes toward rent payments. The voucher is given directly to the landlord and pays a portion of the rent. The tenant may not access this money or withdraw it in cash. 

It may take a while for you to receive benefits after you have been notified of your eligibility. Once your application is approved, your PHA will place you on the housing program waitlist. You may only receive benefits when you reach the top of the waitlist. Furthermore, you and your family must pass a second eligibility verification, as your eligibility for the program may have changed. It may even take you several years to qualify. This makes it more likely that your situation will change during the waiting period and cause you to lose your eligibility. 

You must continue to qualify for the program in order to keep receiving housing choice vouchers. You and your family also have the option of participating in a self-sufficiency course. This type of a course may help you learn how to achieve financial stability and independence from government assistance programs. 

An Explanation of Section 8 Housing

If you have a low income and fall below a certain poverty level, the chances are high that you live in substandard housing. Substandard housing units usually fail to meet health and safety requirements and may not provide you with a good quality of life. Fortunately, you may be eligible for the Section 8 housing program. Assistance provided by this program will allow you to search for a housing unit that has better features and appliances, without having to pay more than you can afford. 

PHAs receive annual budgets from the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and use this funding for housing vouchers and programs to help families enhance their lives and become financially independent. Ultimately, the Section 8 program is a temporary solution. PHAs funding is designed to stabilize an applicant’s housing situation in the beginning stages, but then help the applicant decrease his or her dependence on government assistance. 

Find Out the Requirements for the Section 8 Program

The Section 8 low-income housing program requires you to meet income criteria. In general, you and your family’s income must be 80 percent or less than the average income in the area. You may especially need assistance if your income is equal to 50 percent of the average, or even 30 percent. If you earn 30 percent of what the average worker earns in your town, your PHA may give you preference for a housing voucher. In effect, you will be moved closer to the top on the waiting list. You will also receive a voucher for at least 75 percent of your monthly rental payments. To find out the requirements in your town, visit the website of your local PHA or contact the office by phone or in person. Keep in mind that your office may not go by the name Public Housing Assistance. 

Your PHA will require you to submit certain information to prove your eligibility. For instance, the agency will verify your income by analyzing your bank information, employer information and documents from other applicable agencies. It will then use this and other factors, such as the size of your family, lifestyle, spending habits, citizenship status and whether anyone in the family is pregnant or disabled to determine how much assistance you need.

Note that every PHA has the right to give preference to different applicants when necessary. This is especially true if the agency finds that one family needs more assistance than another. Homeless families are regularly given more preference over other families on the waitlist, even if those families have been waiting longer to receive assistance. PHAs also give preference to families that have been involuntarily displaced. When benefits are in high demand, a local PHA has the right to close the waiting list. This means it will no longer receive applicants until it reopens the list. Some states have had closed waitlists for very long periods of time.

Discover Housing Choice Vouchers and How They Benefit You

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program was established by the federal government to ease the financial strain on low-income families, disabled individuals and elderly adults. If an applicant is unable to make his or her rent payments and qualifies for the program, he or she may receive a housing choice voucher and then search for a home in the private market. The home must be suitable to his or her needs, meaning it will fit the size of his or her family and will not have substandard features. 

Looking for a home in the private market means you will not have to search for a home directly through your public housing agency. You may choose a home based on your needs and then notify the PHA of your choice. The agency will then send a worker to evaluate the health and safety of the home and make sure it meets certain other requirements. It will also make sure that the landlord will accept you and your family as tenants and agree to the program. You do not need to choose a home in a subsidized housing project or in the neighborhood where you are currently situated. 

Keep in mind that you will still be required to pay a portion of the rent. The amount you pay each month will be based on your income and how much assistance you qualify for. In general, you may pay the equivalent of 30 percent of your monthly gross income for rent and utilities.