About Section 8 Programs
The Section 8 programs available in your state are provided to help individuals and families afford safe and sanitary housing. These services are funded on a federal level by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). At the state level, Section 8 is managed by public housing authorities. These PHAs provide Section 8 services including the Housing Choice Voucher program and project-based housing. A limited number of PHAs in several states also offer the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program.
Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is beneficial for households able to find housing, but unable to afford it. This program is managed on the federal level by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and locally by public housing authorities (PHA). For eligible applicants the Housing Choice Voucher program pays a subsidy to the recipient’s landlord. This subsidy ensures that households are not paying more than 30 percent of their adjusted income on their housing expenses.
The Family Self Sufficiency program provides job training, educational opportunities, and money matters skillsets to households. If you are approved for the Housing Choice Voucher program, find out if the FSS program is available in your area. It is a supplement to the HCV program. If you are approved to enroll you can use part of your monthly voucher subsidy to save for homeownership costs. Once you have completed the FSS program you will receive a savings account, interest-bearing, that includes this money saved from your subsidy. You can then use this money to pay for any aspect of homeownership.
Section 8 Project-Based Housing
This Section 8 service is available for individuals and households that cannot find a place to live. Through project-based housing you will live in a unit that is designated for Section 8. With this type of Section 8 you are applying to a rental unit, which means when you move out you lose your benefits.
Section 8 Application Process
To apply for a Section 8 program you must contact a local PHA office to receive an application. Notice that some PHA offices only provide Section 8 project-based housing, and not the HCV program. Verify that the PHA accepts applications for the program you need. Here are some considerations to ensure you are eligible to apply:
- You must meet low-income standards to be eligible to apply.
- The individual applying for services for your household must be at least 18 years old at the time of application.
- Everyone in your household must submit to a criminal background check. Offenses involving drugs or sexual crimes will not be permissible for Section 8 applicants.
- If someone in your household is elderly or disabled you must receive priority placement. Most states have specialized Section 8 housing for the elderly.
- If you are homeless or have been involuntarily displaced, for example you are without a home due to domestic violence, then you will receive priority.
When you apply for Section 8 you will be placed on a waitlist. This waitlist can take as long as several years, due to the increased demand for low-income housing assistance in many areas. You are allowed to apply to more than one waitlist, and you should to increase the odds of getting selected. As noted, applicants are chosen based on priority, as well as when funding or space is available at a PHA.
Living with Section 8 Services
Once you have been granted Section 8 benefits, whether it is the Housing Choice Voucher program or project-based housing, you will be allowed to keep your benefits as long as the funds are available. Also, you must follow the program stipulations and avoid getting called upon due to missed rent payments. If your income amount changes for your household you must report this immediately. If you are having issues with your PHA provider contact your state’s HUD field office.