Housing costs can be quite pricey. That is not something new to anyone in the United States, especially households that are financially struggling. Fortunately, there is a federal assistance option that can help you out. The Housing Choice Voucher Program (also referred to as Section 8) can provide assistance for qualifying low-income American households to manage their housing expenses. This article will serve as a guide on the eligibility requirements that you need to meet to qualify for the Section 8 Program.
What is Section 8 Housing Assistance?
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) created an assistance option called the Housing Choice Voucher Program. It is also referred to as, “Section 8”. This assistance option offers housing choice vouchers to eligible individuals. This Section 8 assistance program has four eligibility requirements that define whether a person qualifies to get the assistance they need. It is essential for you to figure out whether you are eligible or not to get Section 8 assistance. That’s because this support option may be able to provide some relief to your situation. Individuals that do not meet all four eligibility requirements may not qualify to get a Section 8 voucher.
Even though HUD is the one that created this program, your local Public Housing Authority (PHA) is the one that manages the Section 8 Program. Your local PHA will be the best place to start when learning about this support opportunity. If you are able to get a housing voucher, then you need to clarify that the house you want accepts these vouchers as a form of payment. Unfortunately, you will find that not every property allows these vouchers so you will be limited in choosing available properties.
The specific requirements differ, depending on the state you live in. But, you can expect four eligibility requirements that will influence your eligibility, which are:
- Income Level
- Family Status
- Eviction History
- Citizenship Status
Income Level Requirement
This program is designed to provide assistance to low-income individuals and households. That is why income plays an important role in eligibility. There are three main types of low income categories, which you should know about. These three main types are: low income, very low income, and extremely low income. The Section 8 Program prioritizes extremely low income households that require help. This is because individuals who fall under this income level category are the most in need. The next priority falls to the very low income households and the last priority goes to low income households. Despite the fact that all categories require assistance, the extremely low income category is the one who needs the most assistance.
Different Low Income Levels
The area that you live in determines the actual levels of income. This is because the actual income levels are defined as a percentage of the area’s median income level (AMI).
- Low Income: 80% of your area’s median income level.
- Very Low Income: 50% of your area’s median income level.
- Extremely Low Income: 30% of your area’s median income level.
How Does the Section 8 Program Calculate Income Level?
When your local PHA is looking through your application, they will need to confirm your income. In order to verify your income, then they need to look at your income sources. This could include:
- Child Support
- Overtime Pay
- Retirement Funds
- Interest or Dividends from Assets
- Social Security
- Lottery Winnings
Your local PHA will inform you on the specific information they will need when you are dealing with the application process.
Family Status Requirement
While the HUD has their own definition of a family, HUD allows your local PHA to have their own meaning of a “family”, as well. Family types that may qualify include:
- Families with or without children
- Senior families where someone is at least the age of 62
- Families with a disabled member
- Displaced families
- A single person where there is not more than one member in the household.
Additionally, it is important to remember that the size of your family will play an important role when it comes to determining income level. For instance, a single individual that earns $25,000 per year will be in a better financial situation than a four-member household that earns the same amount.
Eviction History Requirement
Another important component to determine your eligibility for Section 8 is your eviction history. Individuals may not qualify to get this type of assistance if they:
- Faced eviction from a housing unit within three years because of drug-related criminal activity
- Faced a conviction of methamphetamine production in assisted project housing.
Citizenship Status Requirement
The Federal Government only accepts HUD assistance for American citizens or those with an eligible immigration status. The process will operate differently, based on your citizenship status. If you are an American citizen, then you will be required to provide your social security information. If you have an eligible immigration status, then you will be required to provide the necessary documents that your local PHA will let you know that they need. This includes: your passport, immigration documentation, etc.
3 Types of Section 8 Voucher Programs
There are three different types of Section 8 vouchers that you can decide from, based on your current housing situation. The three types of Section 8 vouchers are: Tenant-Based Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), HCV Home-Ownership Voucher, and Project-Based Voucher (PBV). You should think about the fact that not all programs are applicable to your current financial situation. Some of the programs could be exactly what you need. But, there are other options that could still leave you in a not-so-great situation. This is why you should make sure to choose exactly what you need to help you out. Your local PHA can help you figure out what would be eBay for your current situation.
You will see that each Section 8 voucher has its own conditions of eligibility requirements that you need to meet. Even though these Section 8 Programs do not work for everyone, each program helps people dealing with housing issues.
Applying for Section 8 Assistance
If you are thinking about applying for the Section 8 Assistance Program, then you can break the application process down into four steps. The first thing you need to do is to contact your local PHA.
Step #1: Reaching Out To Your Local Public Housing Authority
You will need to locate your local Public Housing Authority, in order to start the application process. You can do this through an online web search or through the HUD website. Once you find the one nearest to you, you will need important information. This includes the local PHA’s contact details, address, etc. Once you have all the necessary details you can reach out to them!
Step #2: Confirming Your Eligibility
Your local Public Housing Authority can offer you the right information you need on figuring out your eligibility. It is important to remember whether you qualify or not will differ based on the area you live. If you find that you do not qualify in one area, then you could gain a lot from checking out another area. However, in order to truly confirm if you are eligible you will need to submit an application!
Step #3: Start the Application Process
You can start the application process with your local Public Housing Authority. Once you better understand your eligibility, the Program can provide you with the application documents you need. These applications do not cost a thing! You might be able to fill it out online, through the mail, or in person based on your area. It is important to note that you need to fill out the application accurately and honestly. Any missing or wrong information can lead to a delay or a rejection in your application. Once you fill out the application, you will need to go through the PHA’s instructions to submit it accurately. You need to make sure to submit your application on time!
Step #4: Wait for Your Approval
Once you hand in your application, you will need to remember to wait while it gets processed. Processing times differ, but it typically takes a couple of months. Once your application gets processed, you will either get approved or denied. If your application is approved, you will likely be put onto a waiting list. An alternative option would be that the Program would reject you. If your application is rejected and you have questions, then you can reach out to your local PHA for more information. You even have the right to submit an appeal!
Commonly Asked Questions About Section 8 Program
You need to understand the Section 8 program, but it can be quite a challenge to learn about. Fortunately, it does not have to be hard! There are some common questions that people have had about Section 8 that you may have, too. These are commonly-asked questions that can help you better understand the Section 8 Program.
How Does The Program Determine The Value of The Voucher?
The amount of your housing voucher will depend on the information you present on your application. This includes income level, household size, etc. But, vouchers also need for you to only use 30% of their family’s income or at least $50 for rent and utilities. It depends on whichever is more. The voucher will provide coverage to the rest, up to a limit.
What Documents Do You Need To Present To Apply?
The documents that you will need to submit differs, depending on the state you live in. But, you can typically expect that you will need to provide the following:
- Birth certificates for all household members
- Social security cards for all members of the household
- Driver’s license
- State or alternate government issued photo ID.
- Passport (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
- Immigration papers (if you are a registered immigrant or alien)
- Signed verification of immigrant status (if it applies)
- Income verification such as pay stubs, tax documents, bank statements, etc.
- Disability documentation such as medical records (if it applies)
The Final Verdict
Section 8 Assistance (properly known as the Housing Choice Voucher program) is a great chance for you to get support if you are in need of some assistance. Typically, there are four main eligibility requirements that influence your eligibility. This includes your income level, family status, eviction history, and citizenship status.
You can start the process of receiving Section 8 down at your local PHA. After you reach out to your local PHA, you can start the application process. Once you hand in your application, they will determine if you are eligible or not. If you are able to get help then you will likely be placed onto a waitlist. The alternative is that your application could be rejected. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about your application’s results, then you can ask your local PHA about it!