How To Qualify For Section 8 Housing

Section 8 Housing Program is a federal assistance program administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Real estate agent with house model and keys

Most adults in the US at some time or other have heard of section 8 housing. However a much smaller percent of people actually know what it is. And an even smaller percent know who is eligible for section 8 or how to go about the application process. In the article we will explain how to understand the process of section 8 housing. Which is often referred to as the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

What Is Section 8?

Section 8 Housing Program is a federal assistance program administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Although the terms HUD and Section 8 or often used as the same thing, they are in fact different. HUD is the agency that runs the program Section 8 for low-income families. The confusion between the two terms is just one of the many confusions people face when trying to understand Section 8.

Who Benefits From Section 8?

Section 8 is a government-designed program that aids low-income families by helping cover a portion of their rent. The federal government supplies housing vouchers to these families based on the annual gross income for the household. Although it is a national program, each branch is administered by a different state office, which means each office has a list of preferences for each household. However HUD has set income levels for each state at a federal level as a guideline. Click Here to research income limits.

The value of the family’s housing vouchers are based on the size, income and cost of living for the district they are applying for. Cost of living can differ from state to state, city to city. Someone living in New York may not be receiving the same amount as someone living in Las Angeles.

How To Qualify For Section 8

To qualify, a family must be making an annual income below the median family income of the area they are applying in. If the applicants believe they are eligible, they must first submit an application to the local public housing authorities (PHA) of the area they wish to reside. After the application is submitted, the Public Housing Authorities (PHA) will review the information and place qualified applicants on a local waitlist. This process can take several months to complete and requires extensive information regarding the household background investigation. PHA’s individual housing resources and waitlist times will vary. Read More about Section 8 Waitlists Here. Generally, after a household makes its way to the top of the waitlist, the PHA will schedule an interview and briefing that the applicant must attend.

What Are The Standard Questions Included In The Application, Background Check And Investigation?

  • What is the household size? How many family members?
  • Citizenship status, are all primary applicants U.S. citizens or lawful immigrants over the age of 18?
  • What are the financial assets for the household? This may include liquid assets, as well as banking (checking and savings accounts.)
  • Family status, are their disabled members in the family? Pregnant or elderly?
  • Have you been evicted ever? They may want to speak with previous landlords.
  • Criminal Backgrounds Check, violent and sexual convictions can prevent eligibility, Click Here for More Detail regarding criminal records and Section 8.
  • Drug test for all household members over 18.

Once the application has been reviewed, the applicant will be placed on a waitlist. When the applicant reaches the top of the list, they will be brought in for an interview to confirm the eligibility of the household. If the applicant fails to show up for the interview, they will forfeit their place on the waitlist.

Please note that the term “household” can refer to an individual as well as families with multiple members.

What Are The Income Limits For Section 8?

The program is designed for low-income families, which allows PHA’s to set limits for household eligibility. The limits can vary from one PHA to the next because they are based on the local median household income. PHA’s classify applicant’s importance by categorizing them by low-income, very low-income and extremely low-income.

  • Low- income families, typically earn no more than 80 percent of the median income level for their area.
  • Very low-income, generally earn no more than 50 percent
  • Extremely low-income, make no more than 30 percent of the median local income.

Family households whose income is 30 percent or less will receive 75 percent of the PHA vouchers, which is outlined in the HUD guidelines.

PHA’s try to ensure all applicants receive the help they need. The list of priority preferences listed above may vary from one PHA to the next, but in general, the focus is always aimed to help applicants who urgently need assistance. Read other common questions about Section 8 here.

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