Who Qualifies for Section 8 Housing?

Section 8 housing works differently than an entitlement benefit, meaning that even if the applicant qualifies to receive a voucher, he or she might not necessarily get one. In fact, usually only one in four families that qualifies for the aid actually receives it. This is obviously a result of the huge demand for local housing assistance.

This public housing assistance program is government-subsidized. Typically, tenants will pay approximately 30% – 40% of their income each month toward their rental costs. The remainder is subsidized through the Section 8 program.

As a major assistance program for low-income families, along with the disabled and elderly, the Section 8 Housing Voucher helps many afford sanitary, safe and decent housing. The voucher can be used to secure an apartment, town house or single-family home in the private market. The unique program offers every participant the freedom to select any housing that meets the program’s requirements.

The qualifying participant in the program will be issued a voucher. The participating family is fully responsible for locating a housing unit that meets the requirements. In addition, approval to accept the housing voucher is required of the landlord. Every unit rented under the program is required to meet in maintain the minimum standards of safety and health, as determined by specified guidelines.

The housing subsidy (monthly funds) is paid directly to the renter’s landlord through the PHA (Public Housing Authorities) program. Any difference in the amount of monthly rent charged by the renter’s landlord will be paid by the participant.

Who Is Eligible?

Eligibility for the program is based on income requirements in a specific locale. Generally, every family, elder or disabled individual must earn less than 50% of the area’s median income, which is calculated every year. This total amount is derived from the income of the entire household combined.

Another factor used to determine eligibility is the number of family members that will live in the home. Households that have fewer individuals require a lower income limit through the Section 8 program.

Other considerations that could help in the qualification process include:

• Households with at least one individual 62 years old (spouse, head of the household or co-head)
• All United States Armed Service veterans or their widows/widower
• The disabled
• A regular workload of 42 hours or more every week
• United States citizenship or immigrant status that meets legal requirements
• Currently living in a shelter
• Families with children
• Other considerations

In addition, housing agencies in some locales are required to give preference to families with extremely low incomes (households that bring in 30% or less of the median income in the area). In many jurisdictions every family member 18 and older will need to sign a consent form authorizing a criminal background check, and possibly sign a consent form for a credit check.

It will be important to document the entire household’s housing costs and monthly income. This will include recent pay stubs from all employers that verify every working family member’s salary. In addition, applicants will need to provide current mortgage information (yes, homeowners are eligible for the program), or a letter in writing from the landlord that confirms the current monthly rent.

Who Does Not Qualify for Section 8?

Having a combined family income that is too high, living in an unsafe or unhealthy housing unit or not meeting the listed requirements above are all factors that could make a family unqualified to receive Section 8 housing assistance.

The Section 8 Assistance Housing Program is not available for participation by registered sex offenders.

For more information about the program’s assistance vouchers, and how to apply, visit HUD.gov, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.