What Provisions Does Section 8 Housing Provide?

May 7th 2016

Section 8, which is formally referred to as the Housing Choice Vouchers Program, provides qualified individuals and families with assistance paying the rent on their homes or apartments. Unlike subsidized housing projects, Section 8 housing is typically privately owned.

Financial Assistance and a Choice of Rentals

Families that qualify for the Housing Choice Vouchers Program are allowed to select their residence either from the private market or from a list of available rentals provided by the local public housing authority. The PHA decides what size rental each family is eligible for based on the family's size.

The maximum amount of financial assistance the PHA can provide under the program is generally the amount of approved rent minus 30 percent of the family's monthly income. If the family wishes to rent a property that is outside the PHA's rental cost guidelines, they may do so, so long as the family is not paying more than 40 percent of its monthly adjusted income toward rent.

The Ability to Move

Families who rent using the Housing Choice Vouchers Program typically sign 12-month leases. However, because the government recognizes that needs change, families are permitted to change residences while taking their assistance with them, provided the family legally breaks or terminates the existing lease and selects a new, qualified rental.

Quality Residences, Carefully Inspected

The PHA inspects each rental prior to allowing a family to move in, ensuring it meets standards for health and safety. Furthermore, the PHA must determine that the rent charged is reasonable based on local market standards.

Assistance to Lower-Income Families

To qualify for assistance, families must typically have incomes no higher than 50 percent of the area median income, and 75 percent of those must have incomes at or below 30 percent of the AMI. These guidelines vary by geographical location.

The family must provide the Social Security numbers for each adult member of the household, photo identification and proof of their legal right to live in the United States. The family must also provide proof of all income and assets. There is typically a waiting list for these services, and local PHAs may assign assistance based on need or other local guidelines instead of simply by the order of the waiting list.

Due to its popularity, Section 8 housing need typically outpaces availability. For those families that are able to qualify for the assistance, the program offers a great deal of choices outside of traditional housing projects or subsidized housing programs.

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