How to Determine If You Are Eligible for a Section 8 Voucher

How to Determine If You Are Eligible for a Section 8 Voucher

There are four primary prerequisites for receiving a Section 8 voucher.

You could find yourself in a financial bind if you suddenly lose your job, get disabled, or have an injury. If your emergency fund is depleted, you may find that it is challenging to continue paying your rent. In such a case, you may be eligible for assistance with housing through Section 8 of the federal government.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development is in charge of managing the Section 8 federal housing assistance program (HUD). Through this program, families and individuals who qualify can get help paying their rent every month.

But who is eligible for Section 8 assistance? It is helpful to know who is qualified for housing assistance as well as how to apply for it if you are in need of such support.

Key Takeaways

  • The federal government runs a program known as Section 8 that assists families and people with low incomes with paying for housing by providing them with vouchers.
  • The number of people in a household, their income level, and their location all play significant roles in determining eligibility for Section 8 assistance.
  • To qualify for Section 8, you must be a U.S. citizen, but there is a chance that some non-citizens may also be able to get housing vouchers through the program.
  • It is recommended that you get in touch with the public housing agency in your area to learn more about who is eligible for Section 8 in your region.

What Exactly Is a Section 8 Apartment?

The federal government runs a program called Section 8 housing, which offers vouchers to low-income families and individuals to assist them in paying for housing. Participants in the program are free to select their own accommodation so long as it satisfies the criteria established by the program. People who qualify for Section 8 are not required to live in subsidized housing buildings; rather, they have the option of searching for accommodation in single-family houses, townhomes, or apartments. 

How the Section 8 Housing-Choice Voucher Program Operates

Public housing agencies are the ones that distribute housing-choice vouchers (PHAs). People who are qualified for Section 8 benefits can get vouchers, which are paid for by the federal government and distributed through public housing agencies.

If a person or family is eligible for a housing choice voucher, they will get what is essentially a rent reduction in the form of the voucher. A housing subsidy is given to the landlord on behalf of a Section 8 recipient by the Public Housing Authority (PHA). The recipient is then responsible for paying the difference between the amount actually owed for rent and the amount that Section 8 will cover.

In certain situations, the public housing authority (PHA) in a family’s area may let them use their voucher to buy a small home instead of renting one.

What Kind of Assistance Is Offered Under Section 8?

The guidelines for Section 8 do not stipulate a specific monetary amount that individuals or families might receive to put toward their monthly rent obligations. Instead, the Public Housing Authority (PHA) creates a payment standard, which is a baseline amount required to rent a moderately-priced dwelling in the local housing market. This sum may be found in the table below.

A family that is given housing vouchers has the option of renting a home that either meets or exceeds the payment level that has been established by the PHA. In most cases, recipients must contribute 30% of their monthly gross income after adjustments to pay for rent and utilities. If the rent is higher than the payment requirement, there is a possibility that this percentage will rise to 40 percent in certain circumstances.

Take, for instance, the city of Los Angeles as an example. The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles has determined that the minimum required monthly payment for a unit with two bedrooms is $2,248. Using the 30 percent rule, if your monthly salary was $2,800 and you wanted to participate in the program, the amount of money you would be responsible for contributing toward rent and utilities would be $840. 

Fair market rents are used as the basis for determining the payment standard in Philadelphia, and they are broken down by zip code. Depending on the location of the properties, the standards can be broken down into five different categories: basic, traditional, midrange, opportunity, and high-opportunity rentals. Therefore, the typical monthly payment for a two-bedroom apartment located in an area with basic rent would be $1,012. In the meantime, a two-bedroom apartment in an area where rents are likely to be high costs an average of $1,870.3 per month.

Let’s say that your monthly income of $1,900 is enough to get you accepted into the program. You decide to go with a unit that is located somewhere in the center and has a standard payment of $1,287. You would be responsible for making payments totaling $570 each month for the rent and utilities.

Baseline payment criteria do not set a limit on how much a landlord can charge for rent.

Why does Section 8 exist?

The Section 8 program is designed to assist families and individuals with low incomes in locating housing that is within their price range. The program to give housing subsidies to qualifying renters was authorized by Congress in 1974 and established by HUD. Both of these events took place in 1974. The primary motivation for the creation of the Section 8 program was to provide a solution to the growing proportion of family income that went toward covering housing expenses. 4

Section 8 Voucher Requirements

Who is eligible for the Section 8 program? There is no easy solution to this problem. It depends on whether or not you can meet all four of the exact HUD standards.

Income Limits

Applicants for Section 8 are required to meet certain income requirements, which are determined on an annual basis by HUD. These income thresholds are determined based on a percentage of the national median income for each individual region of the country. There are three different grades for the income limit: 

  • extremely low income: thirty percent of the level is considered to be the area’s median income.
  • very low income, which is equal to or less than half of the median income level in the area.
  • 80 percent of the region’s median income level, which is considered to be a somewhat poor income,

These income thresholds take into account both the location in which you currently reside and the size of your current family unit. Taking Los Angeles as an example once more, the following are the restrictions for a household consisting of four people in 2021: 

  • The revenue is really meager: $35,450.
  • extremely low income, which is $59,100
  • Income that is just above the poverty level: $94,600

Using the online tool that HUD provides, you can find out what the income limits are for your neighborhood.

Under the Section 8 program, housing vouchers are usually given to people whose incomes are below certain thresholds.

Citizenship Status 

Eligibility for Section 8 benefits is restricted to U.S. citizens and non-citizens who meet the requirements for specific immigrant classifications. When you submit your application for Section 8, you and every member of your household are required to sign a certification form confirming that you are each of the following: 

  • A citizen of the United States OR an eligible alien OR
  • Making the decision not to submit an eligibility claim

A simple declaration is all that is required to satisfy the HUD standards for establishing citizenship. However, your PHA may request more documentation, which may include the following items:

  • Passport(s) from the United States
  • Cards that show you are a legal resident alien, cards that show you are registered, and a social security card (or cards)

Immigrants who are eligible may also be required to sign a declaration attesting to their immigration statuses, provide documents from the Immigration and Naturalization Service proving those statuses, or sign a form giving the PHA consent to use that information. These requirements can vary depending on the situation.

Families with both citizens and non-citizens who don’t qualify for help can still apply for Section 8, but the amount of help they get will depend on how many citizens live in the home.

Family Status 

Applicants for Section 8 must additionally demonstrate that they fall within HUD’s definition of a family in order to be considered. According to HUD, an individual or group of individuals is considered to be a family if at least one of the following characteristics is met: 8

  • Produce offspring
  • At least one member of your family should be 62 or older.
  • Have a member of your family who is disabled
  • Who has been forced out of their home due to one of the qualifying circumstances
  • previously lived with other people who received Section 8 funding but now live alone after other members of the family moved out.

It is possible to qualify for Section 8 even if you do not have any children, so even single people should look into it.

A History of Being Evicted

In order to qualify under Section 8, individuals or families generally need to demonstrate a track record of responsible renting. People who have been kicked out of a previous residence due to criminal conduct or drug use are ineligible to qualify for housing assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). If you have ever been convicted of making methamphetamine in a subsidized housing project, you are also ineligible for this program and will not be considered. 

If you don’t meet any of the requirements set by your PHA, you might also not be able to get Section 8 help.

Instructions on How to Apply

You will need to get in touch with the public housing agency in your area if you want to submit an application for Section 8 housing-choice vouchers. Your local PHA will be able to inform you whether or not the program is currently accepting new applications and what kinds of documentation are required to submit an application. You might be able to submit your application online, in person, or through the mail, depending on where you live.

Complete the application.

You will need to fill out an application for housing choice vouchers that is utilized by your public housing authority (PHA). The information that is needed may be different each time, but it is possible that you will be asked for some or all of the following:

  • Include both your name and the names of everyone else who resides in your home.
  • Information regarding the household’s primary decision maker’s name and address
  • All of the residents of the household’s birth dates, Social Security numbers, birthplaces, and genders are listed, as well as their dates and numbers of birth.
  • Bedroom proportions that you desire
  • Your status as a veteran or a member of the military
  • Your current homelessness status:
  • I have a criminal record.
  • Status as a resident of the country The home’s race, ethnicity, and primary language
  • Disability status
  • Names of former property owners or managers
  • name and contact details of one’s current place of employment

When filling out the application, whether you hand it in in person, submit it online, or send it in the mail, it is imperative that you be as detailed and exact as is humanly feasible. If you don’t give certain information or if the information you do give is wrong, your application can be turned down.

Submit any supporting documentation.

When you have provided sufficient justification for your application, your PHA may ask you to provide supporting documentation. The following are some of the things that may be requested of you:

  • Copies of identification documents issued by the government for each member of the household.
  • Evidence of one’s citizenship (i.e., passports, birth certificates, etc.)
  • Statements from financial institutions
  • Pay stubs
  • Tax returns
  • Copies of the most recent rental agreement you have in place.

It is very important that you answer any questions that may be asked of you so that your application can be processed as quickly as possible.

Join the List of Those Waiting

In the event that you are granted Section 8 assistance, you will most likely be placed on a waiting list. This waiting list is a pool consisting of all people and families who have been approved for housing-choice vouchers and are now awaiting placement. As soon as a house comes up for rent in your area, you will be taken off the waiting list and allowed to start getting voucher benefits.

If there are not enough resources available to pay housing benefits to everyone, a public housing authority (PHA) may choose to stop accepting new applicants to its waiting list. Even if you get your name on the waiting list, there is no guarantee that you will be able to find accommodation straight away. In certain circumstances, it may take an application for Section 8 several years before it is moved to the top of the waiting list.

Lottery drawings may be held in certain states that have already filled their Section 8 waiting lists. These drawings are open to applicants who are already on the list.

In Conclusion, Eligible families and individuals may be eligible for Section 8 housing, which can help make housing more affordable for these groups. To provide a general answer to the question of who is eligible for Section 8, the answer is people with low incomes. However, the income limits to which you are subject and your capacity to get assistance might be decided by the location in which you live or the number of individuals who live with you.

If you are in need of assistance with housing, Section 8 is one option available to you. However, approval for this program might take some time. If you don’t meet the qualifications for a housing-choice voucher, you can also ask your local public housing agency about other ways to get help paying your rent.

Questions That Are Typically Asked (FAQs)

How can I get housing assistance right now under Section 8?

You can inquire about the application process for emergency housing assistance by contacting the public housing agency in your area. Families who are homeless, at high risk of becoming homeless, or who are fleeing situations of domestic violence, dating violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, or stalking can get help through the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) program. This program gives vouchers to local public housing authorities so that they can help families who are homeless or at high risk of becoming homeless.

How can I find out what number I now hold on the Section 8 waiting list?

Simply by dialing the number that has been provided to you by your local public housing agency, you will be able to find out where you are on the Section 8 waiting list. By going online, you might also be able to check your place on the waiting list or make changes to the information you gave on your application.

When my child turns 18, what will happen to my Section 8 benefits?

It is possible that your eligibility for Section 8 benefits will be affected if your child turns 18 while you are receiving assistance from that program. The answer to this question may be determined by whether or not the child moves out of the family home or begins making financial contributions to the family. Your local public housing agency can help you assess whether or not you need to make any changes to the information they have on file regarding your household or income in order to continue receiving Section 8 benefits.

Leave a Reply