What is a Section 8 Home?

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is commonly known as Section 8 housing. As part of the US Housing Act of 1937, Section 8 offers vouchers or subsidized housing for low-income families. The vouchers are issued by the local Public Housing Agency (PHA) which receives funding from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to cover the vouchers and the cost of administration. You find more information about Section 8 on hud.gov.

Section 8 Eligibility

In order to be eligible for Section 8 housing vouchers, applicants must be a US citizen or must possess an eligible immigration status. Family size and income level will also be taken into consideration. The law requires PHA to provide 75% of its vouchers to households with a total income that is less than 30% of the local median income. HUD provides an outline of the local median income.

Applicants can contact their local PHA office to begin the application process. The PHA will determine their eligibility by reviewing all income and assets. Any information provided by the applicants will be verified. Based on the information provided, voucher amounts will also be determined. If applicants meet the established requirements, then PHA will move forward with the application process by either adding applicants to the waiting list or issuing vouchers.

Finding Section 8 Housing

While PHA may encourage applicants to select certain housing options based on family size, the choice of housing is solely the responsibility of the applicants. However, PHA still has to approve the housing for payment. The approval depends on unit size and certain health and safety standards.

Once an applicant chooses a home to rent, PHA determines the payment voucher. PHA requires applicants to pay 30% of the monthly expenses for rent and utilities. PHA will pay either the payment standard minus 30% of the monthly income or the monthly rent amount minus 30% of the monthly income; whichever is lesser.

For example, if the monthly rent is $800 and the monthly income is $1500 PHA will pay $350. But if the payment standard is $700 and the monthly income is $1500 then PHA will pay $250.

Once an agreement is reached, the landlord and PHA will sign a housing assistance program contract. This ensures that the landlord will provide a safe and healthy dwelling to the tenant during the length of the contract. This also ensures that the terms of the lease agreement between the tenant and landlord will be upheld. If related contracts and agreements are upheld then the landlord will continuously receive the Section 8 payments throughout the life of the contract.

Section 8 Priorities

Due to the large number of Section 8 applicants PHA reserves the right to establish priority recipients. These recipients will receive the benefits of the voucher program before any other applicants will be considered. They include those that pay more than 50% of their income to rent, the homeless or those living in substandard conditions, and the elderly or disabled. Such preferences are granted solely at the discretion of the local PHA.

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