Housing is the largest expense for most families and can sometimes be out of reach. Section 8 is a government program which helps low-income individuals and families to be able to afford housing more easily. If you are having trouble paying for your home, Section 8 may be able to offer a helping hand!
Section 8-Housing Choice Voucher Program
The federal government has created the housing voucher program to be the main way that they assist citizens with housing. It is primarily designed for low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly, and aims to provide qualified individuals with decent, sanitary, and safe homes.
How does Section 8 work?
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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), sends funds from the federal government to local public housing agencies (PHAs). The PHAs then assign housing choice vouchers to families or individuals. The family or individual then can find a landlord with a housing unit who agrees to rent under the program.
As a participant in this program, you can choose your home or apartment but it must meet the PHAs minimum standards for safety and health. The subsidy is then paid directly to the landlord on your behalf. You then only have to pay the difference between the cost of rent and the amount of the housing voucher. In some cases, vouchers can even be used to purchase a home.
Section 8 eligibility
Eligibility for the Section 8 program is based on the following:
2.Total annual gross income.
A family’s income generally can not exceed 50% of the median income for their county. Further, PHA is required to give 75% of its funds to applicants whose income is less than 30% of the median income in their area.
Median income levels are published by HUD and vary depending on the location. Check with your local PHA to see if you qualify.
Even if you are eligible, PHA is not always able to assist you immediately. You may be put on a waiting list so it is best to apply right away if you are in need of help. Waiting lists are sometimes even closed when they become so long that HUD won’t be able to help applicants in the near future.
However, it may not always be first-come, first-serve with PHAs. They can establish preferences for selecting applicants such as prioritizing families that are homeless, those that are paying rent that is more than 50% of their income, and those that are involuntarily displaced. So emergency situations may be tended to first. Unfortunately, if your situation is not deemed “high-priority,” you can face long wait times.
Be sure to ask your PHA about the time period you can expect before receiving assistance.
How to apply for Section 8
You can apply for Section 8 by contacting the local PHA in your area. Find one near you here.
Can you move while receiving Section 8 vouchers?
What happens if you need or want to move? No problem. To move, you need to notify the PHA ahead of time. You will also need to terminate your existing lease according to the provisions of the contract and find a new home that meets the PHA standards. However, if you are moving from the jurisdiction of one PHA into the jurisdiction of another, you will need to consult with the PHA in the new area.
What are the Housing Quality Standards for Section 8 Properties?
HUD outlines the standards for housing to receive federal assistance. They have performance requirements and acceptability criteria for the following:
Lead-based paint performance requirement
Space and security
Interior air quality
Access performance requirement
Site and neighborhood
Food preparation and refuse disposal
Illumination and electricity
Structure and materials
Read the details of the requirements here.
Find out if Section 8 can help you!
If you are having trouble affording your housing and think you are a good candidate for this program, reach out to your local PHA and apply! If you meet all of the requirements, you can find yourself comfortably affording your home and basic necessities in a time very soon! Follow this link to find your local public housing agency and its contact information.
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