Everything You Need To Know About Section 8 Housing

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Section 8 housing assistance is one of the most well-known government programs for low-income families. However, most people know very little about what the program is, who qualifies, and how to apply. If you need this type of assistance, it’s important to know this information. 
What It Is

Section 8 is a housing assistance program that is funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and run by the Public Housing Agencies, or PHAs. They provide housing vouchers to low-income families, as well as the elderly and disabled. These housing vouchers pay a portion of the rent, requiring recipients to pay only 30% of their income towards the remainder of the rent. Recipients are allowed to choose their own housing, but must sign a year lease and pay the direct deposit.
How to Get It

  • To be eligible, applicants must:
  • Earn 50% or less than the average area income
    • 30% or less is considered extremely low income and individuals in the category are moved to the top of the list.
  • Be a family or individual that:
    • Has at least one individual over 62 years of age
    • Has one or more disabled individuals
    • Has been displaced from their home due to either government action or damage, or complete destruction, caused by a natural disaster or other federally-recognized disasters
    • Is a single individual not fitting the above circumstances
  • Be a citizen or eligible immigrant
  • Not have been evicted due to drug related criminal activity within the last three years
  • Not have been convicted of making methamphetamine in an assisted housing project
How to Apply

Gather pay stubs and other income documents, written confirmation of current rent from your landlord, and identification for each member of your family that will be living in the rental if accepted.
Contact your local PHA for information on ways to apply (online, telephone, in-person) and office hours if you will be applying in person. Find your nearest PHA here. 
Apply and get placed on the waiting list.
*If your local PHA is not accepting new applications at the time, try neighboring counties.
How to Use It

Once your application has been approved, you will choose a rental property. The landlord will run a background check, credit check, and look into your rental history. After passing these requirements, the inspector will verify that the unit is safe and sanitary. If it passes, you will then pay your security deposit and sign a year lease. Once you are in your new apartment, you are required to pay your share of the rent, which is usually 30% of the family's adjusted gross income, comply with the terms of your lease, and keep the unit in good condition.
Please be aware that most Public Housing Agencies have long waitlists and it can take from 3 to 6 years to get a voucher. However, the wait time may be lower for homeless families and those considered extremely low income. Try not to let this discourage you too much. If you apply and then look elsewhere for assistance, once your name is up, you may not need it.

By Alecia Stanton of American Hope Resources
Find more Articles, Resources and Benefits for Parents at AmericanHopeResources.com.

Related Categories

  • Financial Services
  • Housing

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