Rent can be a challenge for a lot of people to deal with. The average rent per month for a one bedroom apartment in America as of July 2022 was $1,701. Some people cannot pay that much money for rent if they want their housing costs to be affordable. As an example, an individual who works 40 hours per week and earns $12.50 per hour only earns $2,000 per month before taxes.
According to the definition from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), affordable housing should not cost more than 30% of a family’s gross income per month. This means that they should not spend more than $600 per month if they are earning a monthly income of $2,000. That is far below the average monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment of $1,701. If you need housing assistance to help your current situation, then you should consider the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program.
Section 8 Program: What Is It?
Section 8 has another name, which is the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Both terms are used for the same federal housing support program that helps low-income individuals with rental units since 1974. The HUD is responsible for funding the program, but local public housing agencies (PHAs) are in charge of administering the program.
As the name states, the HCV program offers low-income people and households housing choice vouchers. The local PHA pays the vouchers to the landlord of the home that the recipients choose. In this case, the local PHA pays the landlord on behalf of the recipient. The property that recipients decide on should meet a set of housing quality standards (HQS).
Everything You Should Know About Section 8 Qualifications
Four main factors decide whether you qualify or not for housing support under the Section 8 program, including:
- Family Size
- Total Income Restriction
- Citizenship Status
- Eviction History
You need to meet all of the requirements for Section 8 to approve your application. For each eligibility requirement, there may be some exceptions. In addition, you need to remember that specific eligibility criteria will differ based on the area.
You should also remember that once you apply and receive approval, you will probably be placed on a waitlist. A waitlist is required due to the large number of households that apply and the restricted amount of housing relief available from Section 8.
To be eligible for Section 8 support, your household must meet certain requirements. Even though the HUD has specified a definition for the term “family” they allow local PHAs to use their definition, too! Use the following requirements as a general outline to find out if your household is eligible for the program:
- You have at least one individual that is more than 62 years old.
- Your family has or does not have kids.
- There’s at least one individual that has a disability in the household.
- If your family has been displaced against their will for eligible causes.
It is important to keep in mind that you do not have to meet all of the above criteria. However, if you meet at least one requirement you may be able to qualify. Any changes that take place in your family’s size need to be reported to the program immediately since this might influence the amount of assistance you can get.
Total Income Restriction
The income level of an applicant is another factor that decides whether a person is eligible or not for Section 8 assistance. Since the HCV focuses on supporting low-income individuals, the annual income of applicants must not surpass a certain level. Eligible households generally need to make less than 50% of the local area’s median income (AMI). It is different from one place to another. Contact your local PHA to figure out what requirements apply to your locality. Some types of income that an applicant needs to report in their Section 8 application include:
- Employment income
- Overtime income
- Bonuses and/or tips of any sort
- Military pay
- Child support
- Social Security payments
- Disability benefits
- Death benefits
- Insurance payments
- Unemployment benefits
Your local housing agency might also need to look through your recent bank statements. The specific documents that you need to present can differ as well.
Who Receives Assistance First?
Under federal law, at least 75% of HCV recipients need to have an income that is not more than 30% of the local AMI. Other than that, local PHAs have the discretion to set a preference as a priority when choosing applicants on the waiting list. The preference can be different, but some examples could be:
- Individuals that are facing homelessness
- People that are going through substandard living conditions
- Families that pay more than 50% of their earnings on rent
- Households that have been displaced against their will
Only citizens of the United States and eligible non-citizens can gain from Section 8. This is why, during the application process, applicants and the members of the household will need to sign a certification form. These forms will verify the citizenship status of the person. Your local PHA might request more documents. It is important to keep in mind that if your family has members with eligible citizenship and members that do not, then you might still get Section 8 benefits. But, the benefits will only be calculated based on the number of eligible individuals that have a qualifying citizenship status.
A person’s eviction history allows local PHAs to find out what kind of tenant the recipient was. They would like to know if recipients were unreliable or reckless with former rental units. This is why families typically need to have a positive rental background to be eligible. Applicants might be automatically ineligible if they were evicted for drug-related crimes or criminal activity.
In conclusion, the Section 8 Program can be the perfect solution to your housing issues. You will probably need to wait for a while before you can get any housing support, but you can save a lot of money on your housing costs with this support option. Eligibility requirements might differ based on the area you are in. Four main requirements are very important such as income level, household size, citizenship status, and eviction history.
The Section 8 Program offers recipients the option to find an eligible home that they want. Once the recipients choose a home, the local PHA will pay a portion of the rent to the landlord on their behalf with housing vouchers. If you are interested in receiving Section 8 assistance, then you should contact your local PHA. They can provide information you need and help you get started with the application process!