COVID Updates for Housing Assistance for the winter of 2020
With fall approaching and COVID-19 cases rising again most states are shutting down schools and businesses.
It’s important to know that Federal and State governments are updating their section 8 housing choice voucher policies. Read more here about the policy changes you can take advantage of during these uncertain times.
Utility Allowances, Speaclty housing, tenant and landlord policies are all being updated. Knowing what steps to take can be the difference in you getting the rental assistance you need.
The Section 8 Housing Program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is a federal assistance program administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, also referred to as HUD. The program was developed to help low-income households have access to affordable housing options by helping cover a part of monthly rent for eligible low-income households. The program only covers a portion of rental aid. A Households is free to choose the buildings they wish to live in, however the property must approved for the Section 8 Program.
In order to be approved for Section 8, the applicant must be accepted at the local level by the Public Housing Authorities (PHA) Who are responsible for reviewing the waiting list and income level for the area. The PHA’s will conduct property inspections and verify the applicant’s eligibility.
The Section 8 Program can be confusing, which is why there are so many frequently asked question (FAQ) pages. Below is a list of common questions and answers to the program.
What Is Section 8?
Section 8 is a government-designed program that helps low-income households, individuals and families who are unable to pay their monthly rent and maintain sufficient housing based on their income.
Is HUD And Section 8 The Same Thing?
No. HUD stands for The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development is the agency that administers the Section 8 program. Section 8 is the program enforced for affordable housing.
Is Section 8 And Low-Income Housing The Same Thing?
They are not the same thing but refer to similar ideas. Section 8 is a type of low-income housing program, while low-income housing is just the principle idea. There are many other low-income housing programs, one example, the public housing program. It is not the same program as Section 8, but is overseen by the same agency (HUD). There are currently more than 300 city-specific housing programs being funded by local government, which help assist families to find affordable housing.
How Does Section 8 work?
The federal government supplies housing vouchers to low-income 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. A household can refer to a single person, a family with multiple members and can also refer to a group of people who live together and share all expenses.
The value of the family’s housings voucher is based on the size, income and cost of living for the district they are applying for. For example, a family of 4 living in California is more likely to receive a higher amount for their voucher than a family of 4 living in Alabama. The voucher is based on the cost of living for the specific district area.
How Does The PHA Decide Who Qualifies For Section 8?
The whole process can take several months and requires detailed information for each household member. The general details include:
- Household size. How many family members?
- Citizenship status. All applicants must be a U.S. citizen or lawful immigrants.
- Financial assets. This will include liquid assets, as well as banking (checking and savings accounts.)
- Family status. Are their disabled members in the family? Pregnant or elderly?
- Rental History. Were you evicted ever?
The PHA will do extensive research into your family’s background. You may be required to submit supporting documents, contact information for doctors and/or previous landlords.
Once the initial application is accepted, your family will be assigned a number and placed on a waiting list unless assistance is available immediately. It is your job to update information regularly.
The final step is the interview. A PHA will contact you to interview and deem if you are eligible for the program. Failure to show up for the interview will forfeit your spot on the waitlist. Read Here for more information on how to Qualify for Section 8.
Can I Transfer Section 8 To Another City Or State?
HUD is a federal program, which means beneficiaries may be eligible to maintain Section 8 benefits if they move cities or states. A family moving to a new district may not receive the same amount of benefits due to the cost of living for that specific new district. You could receive more or less depending on the area.
To be able to move, the family must submit a transfer request to the local housing authority and then be approved to transfer their benefits. If the new place is not accepting new housing applicants, the family could be placed on a waiting list before receiving housing vouchers.