What is Section 8?
Section 8, or the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is a Federal
housing program which provides housing assistance to low-income
renters and homeowners. This assistance comes in the form
of rental subsidies, limiting the monthly rent payment of
the assistance recipient.
How do I qualify for Section 8?
To qualify for Section 8 you must be a low-income person
(below 50% of the Area Median Income). To determine what the
income limits are in your area click
Where do I apply for Section 8?
Section 8 is a Federal program adminstered nationally
by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
However, the program is administered locally by public housing
authorities or other designated agencies and organizations.
Use the search tool below to find the public housing authority
which adminsters Section 8 in your area.
for a Housing Authority
How much rent will I have to pay if I have a Section 8
Your rent payment is based on your income. The voucher
will pay anything above 30% of your adjusted monthly income
up to an established limit. For example, if you earn $2,000
per month and the home you want rents for $900 per month,
you would pay $600 and the voucher would cover the difference
of $300 as long as the Fair Market Rent for your area is
equal to or greater than $900. To learn what the fair market
rent is for your area click here.
Can I choose an apartment with rent higher than the Fair Market
Rent established by HUD?
Yes. But you will have to pay any additional rent charges
in excess of the Fair Market Rent. So, if the Fair Market
Rent for the area is $800 and the apartment you want rents
for $1,000 you will have to pay $200 in addition to 30% of
your adjusted income.
How long does it take to get a voucher?
It varies. The Section 8 program has historically been
oversubscribed and waiting lists can run into the years. In
fact, many housing authorities frequently close their waiting
lists and stop accepting applications because the waiting
lists are so long. To find out about wait times in your area
call your local public housing authority. Use the search tool
above to locate the housing authority serving your area.
How do I find a home once I have my voucher?
So you have your voucher. Now comes the fun part. You
go shopping for an apartment. You may use your voucher with
any property that accepts Section 8. Many landlords accept
Section 8 because it is a dependable revenue stream and Section
8 tenants tend to better than average. But, landlords are
not required by law to accept Section 8 vouchers. In recent
years, in many areas, conventional rental rates have outpaced
Fair Market Rents making renting to Section 8 voucher holders
When you find an apartment or home that meets all Section
8 program requirements including a physical inspection to
insure the building is decent, safe and sanitary, the
hosuing authority executes a contract with the landlord to
pay rent on your behalf.
Do I have to rent an apartment in the same city or county
where I received my Section 8 voucher?
No. Section 8 vouchers are "portable". So, once
you receive a voucher, you can take it anywhere in the United
States that has a public housing authority which can administer
the voucher. You can literally receive a voucher in Mississippi
and move to Hawaii with it.
What's the difference between tenant-based and project-based
Tenant-based vouchers are attached to you as a tenant. A project-based
voucher is attached to a particular property. If you live
in a unit with a project-based voucher and you move, the Section
8 stays with the property and the next tenant uses the voucher.
With a tenant-based voucher, you can take it anywhere as long
as the home you wish to rent accepts Section 8 and meets the
standards of the Section 8 program.
Can I use Section 8 to pay my monthly mortgage payment
if I buy a home?
Recently, the Section 8 program was modified to allow Section
8 to help pay mortgage payments for qualified first-time homebuyers.
To qualify, you must be a first-time homebuyer, have a household
income of at least $10,300, been continuously employed for
one-year (except for elderly or disabled persons), attend
a homeownership counseling course and meet any other restrictions
imposed by the local housing authority. Local public housing
authorities may choose to implement a homeownership voucher
program if they wish but are not required to. To find out
if the homeownership voucher is offered in your area call
your local hosuing authority. To locate your local housing
authority use the search tool above.