(DailyTreasure.com) – The Section 8 program is a housing voucher program that subsidizes the cost of housing. Its name reflects that it is section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937. The program helps low-income individuals and families pay for part or all of their rent. Today’s program has evolved to offer low-income American citizens affordable housing and flexibility in their housing choices.
The original Housing Act created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to provide Americans with an affordable way to purchase a home by decreasing down payment requirements through an FHA loan. The government added Section 8 to the act to mandate that landlords provide adequate living conditions. It also provided housing vouchers for rental assistance.
Today’s Section 8 housing choice vouchers are from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Housing units available must be HUD-approved, and U.S. citizens and non-citizens with eligible immigration status can learn more about the program through their local public housing agency (PHA).
How Is Section 8 Administered?
Section 8 housing vouchers provide assistance to individuals based on total annual gross income and the size of their family. Income limits to be eligible for a voucher are those that don’t surpass half of the median income for the local area. The law requires that PHAs distribute 3/4 of the vouchers to individuals who don’t exceed 30% of the local median income. This ensures that the PHA distributes vouchers to those who need them most.
The PHA collects income information from the person applying for Section 8 and verifies it with local banks and/or employers. They then determine whether the applicant is eligible based on income levels published by HUD for that location.
When a person signs a lease with a landlord at a HUD-approved housing unit, the landlord also signs a contract with the PHA. This contract obligates the landlord to provide decent, clean, and safe housing for as long as they are getting paid by the Section 8 voucher program.
The PHA, tenant, and landlord each have obligations in order for the Section 8 program to progress. The tenant is responsible for the security deposit. The landlord must offer a 1-year lease but can allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month basis after the first year. The family must abide by the agreements made in the lease. Finally, the PHA must provide payments and will terminate payments if the landlord fails to abide by the agreement to provide adequate living conditions.
How to Apply for Section 8 Housing
The steps for applying for Section 8 housing are as follows:
- Contact your local PHA to apply for a housing voucher.
- Determine whether or not you are eligible for Section 8 housing based on your household income, citizen or immigrant status, and local median incomes.
- Provide documentation to verify your salary and rent.
- Complete the application. If you have trouble filling out the paperwork, the PHA can offer assistance.
There is often a waiting list for Section 8 housing vouchers, and at times, the PHA may close the waiting list if demand is too high. PHAs may offer preference to applicants who are in higher need of housing assistance, such as those who are homeless or living in substandard conditions. The voucher will only pay for a moderately-priced dwelling unit, and tenants may have to pay anything above the standardized payment. This extra amount cannot be more than 40% of the tenants monthly income.
It can take time to get on the Section 8 housing program, so potential tenants should apply as soon as they can once they are aware that they need help with rental payments. There is no time limit on receiving Section 8 as long as the family continues to meet the income requirements. Section 8 makes housing possible for low-income families and individuals who need it most.
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