The Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8, contributes funds toward rent expenses for low-income families. This federally funded program provides vouchers to cover a portion of recipients’ housing costs, in an effort to ease their financial burden. Run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the program’s goal is to facilitate the availability of decent housing for low-income households.
To be eligible for the program, your family’s income must be less than the local area’s median income and meet the income limits set by the state. Once you apply and are accepted into Section 8, your name will likely be placed on a waiting list. Continue reading below for facts and tips to help you understand the Section 8 Program.
Section 8 Facts
- In 1937, the Housing Choice Voucher Program was founded to assist low-income tenants, with Section 8 soon joining in 1974 as part of the Housing Act of 1937.
- Income is the biggest factor influencing eligibility for Section 8 benefits.
- If you believe your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) has denied your claim unrightfully, you can file an appeal to have your case reviewed.
- PHAs must ensure that three-quarters of the families who receive vouchers are below the low-income limit.
Section 8 Tips
Ask about preferences: Most cities with Section 8 have long waiting lists. PHAs typically prioritize certain applicants based on circumstances. As such, you may be able to get higher on the list if you meet the qualifications. Check with your local housing agency to see if it offers special treatment for homelessness, disaster relief, families who spend most of their income on housing or citizens living in poor conditions.
Check with landlords: When looking for your next rental home, you may find a unit you like with a property owner who is unfamiliar with the Section 8 program. The law prohibits landlords from rejecting tenants due to government-subsidized assistance. You can attempt to educate the property owner on the Section 8 program and the role the housing agency plays in covering the cost. This may motivate them to select you as the tenant for their property.
Get comfortable: You deserve a lovely home, just like any other tenant. Though budgeting is important, you should not settle for less because of your financial situation. Be sure to understand the local fair market rent, the minimum and maximum HUD unit size and what can comfortably fit within your monthly budget. You can exceed the HUD unit dimensions, as long as your share is less than 30 to 40 percent of your income. Find out more about HUD dimension requirements by downloading our free guide.
More portable than ever: As long as you remain eligible for Section 8 benefits and follow HUD’s rules, you can keep your benefits. Ask your housing agency about its relocation procedures. You have the option to relocate if you end your lease correctly. However, you may not transfer your Section 8 benefits for project-based assistance. In this case, HUD has attached the benefits to the dwelling, not the individual. Find out more about project vs. tenant-based benefits in our free guide.