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Learn Helpful Information on Section 8 Housing Vouchers

The Section 8 Housing program is run by the federal government and provides low-income, disabled and elderly individuals with private housing. Those deemed eligible for housing vouchers receive a federal subsidy that pays a private landlord. Section 8 does not require recipients of housing aid to reside in public housing projects and allows them to choose their desired location as long as it meets the standards of the program. To know more about Section 8, read the topics below:

  • What is the Section 8 voucher program?
  • How do Section 8 vouchers work?
  • How is eligibility for Section 8 determined?
  • How much assistance can each household receive?

What is the Section 8 voucher program?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), oversees the distribution of housing vouchers. Once a family receives a housing voucher from their local public housing agency, they are responsible for finding a property. As long as the property meets HUD standards and the private landlord agrees to participate in the program, the recipient may rent. HUD inspects the unit or residence prior to Section 8 enrollees moving to ensure that it is fit for habitation. Each local public housing agency sets their own standards in regards to this matter.

How do Section 8 vouchers work?

Program participants do not receive the subsidy to pay their landlord directly. HUD pays the subsidy to each landlord directly while the family pays any difference between the actual rent and the subsidy. Prospective recipients should note that the program is not entirely free and, if chosen, the eligible participant will be responsible for any financial difference. Before selecting a property, families should be sure that the landlord participates in the Section 8 program. In rare instances, vouchers are available to purchase affordable housing. Those interested in purchasing a home while in the Section 8 program should contact their local public housing agency for further information.

How is eligibility for Section 8 determined?

Households must apply for Section 8 vouchers and, if they meet the criteria of the program, HUD places them on a waiting list to notify when a voucher is available. During the process, a local public housing agency will collect details about the income and assets of each family. This process will involve collecting information from the following places:

  • Employers
  • Banks
  • Other agencies
  • Tax records

Once the data is collected, the agency will contrast it with the median gross income of the local area. If the income of the family is less than 50 percent of this amount, they will more than likely be eligible. The income requirements for the Section 8 program vary between metropolitan areas, so prospective recipients should contact their local public housing agency for more details. Under federal law, each jurisdiction must offer at 75 percent of its available vouchers to households with an income below 30 percent of the median gross income.

How much assistance can each household receive?

The public housing agency in your area is responsible for calculating the amount of financial assistance you will receive. These calculations depend largely on the local housing market, but participants are allowed to choose homes both above and below their voucher amount. There are no rent restrictions placed on landlords, so they may raise or lower rent at any moment. If the family selects a unit where the rent is higher than the voucher amount, no more than 40 percent of its income can go towards housing. Families must also place a set amount of their income towards monthly utility bills.