Section 8 Rental Assistance Program 

 July 12, 2020

By  Ashley T

What Does Section 8 Mean?

Section 8 refers to a section of federal subsidized housing created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Section 8 Rental Assistance Program x
Section 8 Rental Assistance Program

Section 8 was created to assist low-income families, disabled households and the elderly, afford a clean and safe home in the private sector. Qualified applicants are provided with a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) After they are deemed eligible for the program by their local Public Housing Authority (PHA). 

If you are low income, and need rental assistance, there are two Section 8 programs that can help. Both programs are run through HUD, the government’s Housing and Development unit.

help for elderly

Section 8
Section 8 is how these rental assistance programs are commonly referred to, but they are actually called the Housing Choice Voucher Program, or HCV, and Project-Based Voucher Program, or PBV.

The Project Based Voucher Program is actually a sub-section of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Both programs require an applicant to meet eligibility guidelines based primarily on income and family size. It is likely that if you and your family qualify for other government programs, such as SNAP, you might qualify for one of these Section 8 housing programs. 

You should contact your local Public Housing Authority, or investigate income limits on the HUD website to learn more about eligibility, if you think you qualify.

Most people in the Section 8 Project Based Voucher Program have incomes under 30% of the median household income . Applicants accepted into the Project Based Section 8 program are expected to pay 30% of their income as rent, and then the balance of the rent is paid for from the government program.

Section 8 housing applicant s for the Project Based Voucher Program should also be aware that their criminal history, credit history, and history with other government housing programs will be investigated when they apply for the affordable housing.

One of the main differences between Section 8 Project Based housing, and the parent program – the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is  that the affordable housing in the project based program, are tied units within privately held buildings that the Public Housing Authority has contracted with to make them into affordable housing (typically for a period of 15-30 years).

The vouchers for this Section 8 housing are not given to the tenant, like in the Section 8 Housing Voucher Program, but are instead tied to the unit, and contracted with the owners of the units.

So, this Section 8 program is tied to specific units within a larger building.  The applicant is accepted into the unit from a waiting list, based on the income requirements, family size, and other investigated factors.

Since the housing program is tied to the unit, not the applicant, if the applicant moves out of that unit, the applicant may need to re-apply for a different Section 8 or affordable housing program to re-qualify.

If the applicant has been in the Project Based Voucher program, in that unit, for more than one year, the applicant may be able to transfer their voucher to another unit within the community, but it cannot be taken to a different building or unit of his or her choice.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides greater freedom of choice on where an applicant can live once accepted to the program, but may require higher income contributions towards rent payment, whereas the Section 8 Project-Based Voucher Program does not go above 30% of the applicant’s income.

How Do You Qualify for Section 8 Housing?

Eligibility for Section 8 housing is based first and foremost on income levels. These income levels are determined locally, and vary by city, county, and municipality.

The applicant for the Section 8 Housing Voucher Program may be defined as low income, very low income, or extremely low income. Generally, Section 8 recipients are those that earn less than 50% of the area’s middle income level.

The Section 8 application will also look at family size, citizenship and/or legal status in the United States, the criminal background of anyone on the application (not just the primary applicant), and the eviction history.

Documentation will need to be supplied to support these eligibility requirements. Those documents may include tax returns, pay stubs, or birth certificates.

To obtain the application, and learn more about the Section 8 Housing Voucher Program, and the requirements, an applicant should reach out to his or her local Public Housing Authority. Some information may be found on the local Public Housing Authority website.

What is the Income Limit for Section 8?

Income limits for the Section 8 Housing Voucher Program are specific to different cities and counties.

It is really important to contact the local Public Housing Authority where you want to live if you are considering applying for a Section 8 Housing Voucher.

HUD, or the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, puts out the median income levels on a federal scale, but then locally low income limits are determined as well, and those are what will be used by the local Public Housing Authority to determine eligibility.

Generally speaking, an applicant for Section 8 will qualify if his or her income is less that 50% of the local area’s median income.

However, Public Housing is required to give 75% of the program’s vouchers to those from extremely low income families, meaning those with incomes less than 30% of the median area income. It is not uncommon, even with qualifying income limits to be placed on a waiting list.

Discrimination in Section 8 Housing

Unfortunately, discrimination comes in many forms. Housing discrimination happens often and sometimes under our very nose and we don’t even notice. Housing discrimination can be in the form of race, gender, sexuality and religion, and we must also include discrimination because of low income, disability, and even having children.

This discrimination can sometimes block voucher holders from even being considered for an apartment, regardless of their ability to pay the rent. Fortunately, housing advocates and the Biden administration are working on changing old laws and making new ones so that Section 8 tenants are protected from all forms of discrimination under Section 8 housing vouchers.

One of the ways the Biden administration plans on ending housing discrimination is by incorporating inclusionary zoning, which means that a portion of any new construction, or a certain percentage of units, will be set aside for affordable housing, since this was another form of discrimination.  

He also plans to put a stop to “redlining”, which is when people are denied services or get charged more money for the same services, due to their race, ethnicity or religion.

 The Public Housing Authority deals with situations of housing discrimination a lot and take these accusations seriously. If you have a complaint or feel like you may have been discriminated against for any reason, it is important to file a complaint with your PHA office as soon as possible. The HUD provides examples of housing discrimination HERE.

Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications for People with Disabilities

When referring to housing, accommodations mean an exception or change to a landlord’s rules, policies, or practices and a modification is a physical change to a building, rental unit, or common area.

Thanks to disability discrimination laws, to provide people with disabilities an equal opportunity to properly use housing, landlords must provide reasonable accommodations and modifications when necessary. Keep in mind they must be reasonable!

This means that they don’t affect the use of the property for future tenants and don’t put too much burden on the landlord. Another important thing to point out is that the tenant is only responsible of covering any accommodations, but if the changes you require are modifications, you are responsible for paying for them.

 Requesting Reasonable Accommodations/ Modifications

Requesting reasonable accommodations or modifications isn’t a very complicated process. Your first step should be to write an email or letter to your PHA requesting the reasonable accommodation or modification you require.

This letter should explain that you are disabled, the ways in which your disability affects your ability to use and enjoy your home and what type of accommodation or modification you require.

If your disability isn’t apparent, you should include a letter from your doctor or health care professional explaining your need for the accommodation or modification you requested. Finally, send your letter and don’t forget to keep a copy for yourself.

If your request for reasonable accommodations or modifications is denied you can request an informal hearing with the PHA, but keep in mind that the option of an informal hearing can vary since each PHA has local rules and regulations that vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and some have a deadline for requesting a formal hearing.

About the author 

Ashley T

As a professional writer, I enjoy researching Benefit Programs and writing articles and guides that are easy to follow for those who are in need of assistance.

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  1. I am currently looking for housing in Los Angeles California trying to sign up for Section 8 or public housing from KC Missouri

    1. Hi Tashae,

      Click here to get a list of the PHA office in your area and visit there to apply for the Section 8 housing voucher

  2. Hi so I have a place now my rent just got paid through arapaho county and my land lord said if I am able too get help I can stay in my place my lease is up in the middle of January this year coming. Cam you please let me know thank u

  3. Need to find a place asap we were supposed to be off where we are on Tuesday the 30th and have not found anything we can’t pay much for rent. We have five dogs and two cats it will be me and my husband

  4. i need help i am getting evicted from my house and i have no income or money ort place to live. i can work but no work at this time. i need a miracle here if one exist. I am scared of the future. i have worked my whole life now art age 52. I never been evicted nor arrested. rgarcia114433@yahoo I will pay back anyone who helps me find shelter and help. Roland

    1. please check with the local housing authority for housing assistance you are eligible to apply for and submit your application.

  5. i have never in my life had my own house ever i lived and took care of my mom untell the very day that i had to pull the plug on my mother my best friend my everything and now that she is gone in find myself lost and need my owne house so i can have my dogs something i have wanted for many years now I lost my mom to diabetes and pulling the plug on my mom It wasthe most worst thing I ever had to do.
    so please if you could please help me get my own house?

    thank you
    Stacy Branson

    1. Hi stacy,

      Am sorry to hear this. You need to get in touch with the PHA office to apply for section 8 housing voucher.

    1. Hello Talisa,

      To sign up for section 8, you need to visit the local housing authority near your to submit an application

  6. I was in a great position moneywise before the pandemic. I recently lucked up and got a job that I was not qualified for on paper 3 weeks before everything was shutdown. I of course was one of the people who didn’t get unemployment until 2-3 months into pandemic. I had a good savings, made good $$ & just rented the perfect house for my son and myself. I was able to pay rent the first 2-3 months of quarantine & paid backpay on bills when finally getting unemployment. However after paying 2-3 months rent/ bills there was no extra money & I was paid $202 weekly from unemployment. $800 a month doesn’t quite cut it when I mad $800 or more a week at my job & my rent was $1250!! Then a $1000 stimulus does nothing bc bills have by then been backing up & piling on month after month. They finally gave people $300 extra weekly 3 months later, but that still meant the highest weekly amount paid was $624 & that is with no taxes withheld & only upperclass received the full $324 weekly. I brought home close to $1000 a week and my weekly amount was $202 bf taxes!!!! How can ANYONE live on that????? I moved from a house my son & myself loved due to this pandemic even though I never made a late payment the previous 8 months bf the pandemic. We were forced to move to a much smaller place that only had 1 bedroom, 1 bath & was half the size of previous house we lived in for 16 months. A house we NEVER wanted to leave. Now I could not return to old job bc I was only hired 3 weeks bf shutdown. I cannot find job making what I was making before pandemic. I will be making 2/3 of what I am used to & would not be able to rent on this salary

    1. Hello Tegan,

      Am sorry to hear that,but if you are in need of emergency housing, visit the PHA office in your area and you can also read through the article on housing assistance for single moms to know more about other available housing assistance.

  7. Using the internet is difficult for me I am dislexic and have poor short term comprehension I need some help from someone with patience and can explain it in a way sometimes multiple ways till I get it once I get it I don't normally forget to easily.

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