Section 8 is a housing assistance program established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It was created as an initiative to help make low income housing accessible to families across the country. Through the program, applicants can qualify for funds to help reduce their monthly rental costs, while still receiving safe and sanitary housing. As long as a property meets HUD standards, a family can use these funds to rent it.
In order to apply, families must first locate a housing authority that is currently accepting applications. Due to the high demand for housing assistance, this may involve being placed on a waiting list for a certain period of time. Once approved, applicants can maintain this assistance as long as they continue to fulfill all eligibility requirements and program guidelines. Find out more about this program that helps make renting more affordable for thousands of families each year.
What is Section 8?
“What is Section 8 housing?” is an important question to ask if you are struggling to afford your rent each month. As the largest housing assistance initiative in the country, this program helps thousands of low-income families secure homes each year.
This program is also often referred to as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, because funds are distributed in the form of a voucher. The voucher is then used to cover a portion of the beneficiary’s monthly rental costs.
Once approved for the program, applicants can use their vouchers on any single family home, apartment or town house that chooses to participate in the Section 8 program. However, all properties must meet HUD safety regulations to qualify.
While this is a federally-funded program, applications and voucher distribution are handled on the local level. Thus, interested applicants must apply for their vouchers in the area where they want to live.
What is a public housing authority?
A public housing authority, or PHA, is a local entity responsible for running the housing voucher program. Individual states may have several PHAs, which each have jurisdiction over a certain city or area.
In order to receive a voucher, you must apply through a PHA. Once you receive a voucher through a particular PHA, you are often required to live in that jurisdiction for at least a year before you can move to another PHA.
Since the program is run at the local level, eligibility requirements and application procedures may vary from one PHA to the next. Therefore, it is important to learn about the particular policies of your chosen PHA before you apply.
Who qualifies for Section 8 housing?
In general, this low income housing program is aimed to assist the families and individuals who are most in-need of housing assistance. This typically includes families and individuals who:
- Have a low household income.
- Pay over 50 percent of income towards rent.
- Are facing homelessness or involuntary displacement.
- Are elderly.
- Live with disabilities.
The basic qualifications for a Section 8 housing voucher involve U.S. citizenship or immigration status, household income and assets. To qualify, applicants must make below a certain percent of the local median income.
About HUD Section 8 Applications
The process to submit a Section 8 housing application depends on which PHA you apply to. While many PHAs now accept applications online, some require you to submit your documents in person or through the mail. Make sure to determine how your PHA takes applications, to ensure your forms are received.
To complete the application, you must provide certain information about each member of your household. This typically includes personal information such as names, dates of birth and disability status, if applicable.
You are also required to report any annual income and assets for your household to the housing authority, as well as information about citizenship or immigration status. This requires the submission of supporting documents, including but not limited to:
- Pay stubs.
- Bank account statements.
- U.S. birth certificates or immigration papers.
Once you gather these documents and fill out the application, you can submit them for review. While it is possible to receive your Section 8 voucher right away, most PHAs place applicants on a waiting list first.
What is a Section 8 waiting list?
Once you submit the Section 8 housing voucher application, the PHA will review your eligibility. If you are deemed eligible, you will likely receive a spot on the waiting list.
Waiting lists are how PHAs keep track of all applicants who have applied but not yet received assistance. In some cases, you may be able to receive your voucher right away, especially if you are considered a priority applicant.
However, most PHAs have limited funds and can only help a few families at a time. Due to the high demand for federal housing assistance, it can take months or even years to reach the top of the waiting list.
If you are on the waiting list, keep in mind that you must maintain your eligibility until the PHA is able to help you. Once a voucher becomes available to you, a PHA representative will conduct an eligibility interview to ensure you still qualify for assistance.
How does the Section 8 housing voucher work?
Once you are admitted to the Housing Choice Voucher Program, you need to find a rental unit to use your voucher on. This can be an apartment, single family home or a similar property, depending on the size of your household.
Any home you choose must undergo an inspection to ensure it fulfills all safety and sanitation requirements. If you are having trouble finding a home, there are several listing websites that can help you find units already participating in the program.
Your voucher will cover a portion of the rent, based on the local housing costs and your family’s income. You are required to establish a lease agreement with the landlord and cover any leftover rental costs.
One of the biggest benefits of low income housing through this program is that you can continue to receive assistance, as long as you maintain your eligibility. You even have the option to transfer your voucher to other PHAs after a certain period of time if you wish to move.
If you are in need of low income housing options, seek out this program in your area. It may be able to help you secure the safe and affordable housing your family needs.