Housing in the United States: Section 8 Qualifications and Eligibility

The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) is a housing assistance program authorized under Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1974. The program provides a voucher to help tenants rent privately owned quarters, government-owned property, or a certificate that subsidizes rents in privately owned dwellings.

How Does It Work?

The Section 8 applicant family is responsible for finding a decent quality unit in the private rental market that has rents within limits established by HUD. The applicant will pay up to 30% of their adjusted income for rent.

HUD subsidizes the rest with a contract from the landlord. The subsidy amount received by the landlord is based on the area median income (AMI) in the jurisdiction, which could be as high as $650 per month.

The tenant must also ensure that their unit complies with local health and safety standards, and they cannot cause damage that lowers the quality of the property. Along with this, there are Section 8 eligibility requirements a family must abide by to qualify for assistance.

Who Qualifies?

Any family with a household income at or below 30% of the area median income of their jurisdiction can apply for Section 8.

The applicant should be able to show that they meet the minimum income requirements set by HUD and must also provide documentation of their source of income.

How to Apply

Applicants can apply online by:
  • using an electronic application process 
  • going through a paper application in person or by phone
  • visiting a Section 8 housing authority office employee
Depending on the applicant's location, they will submit their comprehensive application to the public housing agency (PHA).

The typical Section 8 application process is done in four steps; the application, verification, contract signing, and tenant screening. Once the initial applications have been submitted, the PHA can verify whether or not they meet all of HUD's requirements.

If they do, the applicant goes through a written lease agreement with the landlord. If this goes well, a background check and meeting with prospective landlords will be conducted.

If the background check goes well, the applicant must go through step four which is signing a housing contract. After the family moves into the unit, they undergo tenant screening to be fingerprinted and receive a Tenant Profile and credit report.

Factors That Influence the Size of the Voucher

The amount of voucher for Section 8 Housing is primarily determined by the following factors:

1. Monthly rent expense

It is the maximum amount of rent a voucher authorizes on behalf of the family. The monthly rent is calculated based on the unit's fair market value, size, and location.

2. Family obligations

Those households below 80% AMI (adjusted median income) will have an additional housing allowance to help cover their utility bills, service charges, and other expenses not covered by the lease agreement.

3. Family income

The household's income determines the Section 8 vouchers they may receive. Generally, the lower the income, the higher the voucher amount.

4. Family Size

The number of people in the household also affects the voucher amount. Larger households are eligible for higher voucher amounts.

5. Location

The location of the housing also influences the amount of the voucher. The voucher amount may be higher in areas where the cost of living is high.

6. Market conditions

The rental market can also influence the number of vouchers in the area. Sometimes, the voucher amount may be high to help low-income families find affordable housing in areas where the rental market is particularly tight.

7. Funding availability

The amount of funding for the Section 8 program can also affect the voucher amount. When funding is limited, the amount of the voucher may be lower.

Section 8 subsidies have helped countless families find safe shelter and secure housing that they otherwise could not afford. It has helped thousands of families put a roof over their heads.

This program is not only a great benefit to our low-income families, but it also has the potential to help save millions of taxpayer dollars annually.

In conclusion, all members of Congress must take note and make improvements to this vital program so that families can continue to be warm and safe in a world where many struggle each day to get by.
Category: Section8

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