If you’re a low-income earner and you’re trying to find ways to house you and your family, you might not know what options are available for you. Thankfully, there is an option that may fit your needs with Section 8 Housing.
What is that?
Section 8 Housing allows any private landlord to rent sheltering at fair market rates to qualified low income tenants.“Section 8” is the same thing as the Housing Choice Voucher Program and is financed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
How it works:
- You can apply to see if you qualifiy as a low income earner here: Home Forward.
- Tenants work out a deal with the landlord or property owner, where they paya minimum of 28.5% of their income toward monthly rent. Home Forward takes care of the remainder of the rent payment.
- Landlords are protected as they use their regular leases and application standards remain the same. For example, if a landlord doesn’t llow smoking in their building, the same rules will apply to a Section 8 tenant.
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, thus pays for the remainder of a rent that is greater than 30% of a renter’s monthly income. Of course, the home must meet the certain requirements set by the local housing authority and the cost of the unit must be equal or less than the Fair Market Rent set by HUD. This ensures a fair playing field and that everyone gets the housing they need fairly.
Who sets up Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers?
Neither the federal government nor the state, but local housing authorities and each community has different criterion that applicants must meet to qualify for the benefit. Contact your own local housing group to find out if you qualify to receive and how to go about applying to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.
How Is Tenant and Project Based Section 8 Different?
Tenant-Based Section 8 is also called Housing Choice Voucher Program, or the system mentioned above. It remains attached to the tenant, meaning if you move, you keep the same assistance.
Project-Based Section 8, is attached to the property instead, meaning that you may move into a unit that participates in Section 8 and get the same assistance as above. However, if you leave, the next person to move into the unit will take advantage of the unit as the benefit does not move with you.
Most big cities have large, reasonably priced apartement complexes with project-based Section 8 assistance.They’re all across the country and they tend to have long wait times. However, depending on how lucky you are, you may be able to land one.
Do I Qualify for the Section 8 Housing Voucher?
To find out, contact your local housing authority, but generally qualification depends on income. Across the board, if your income is less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for your community, you probably qualify. However, the program is required to target 75% of assistance to families who earn 30 percent or less of the AMI. Other common conditions of receiving this benefit includes citizenship or certain categories of legal residency and owned assets. Again, to learn more, contact your local housing authority, whoever that may be.
How to Apply
For that, the housing authority in your community should be your starting point. The program is enacted locally by housing authorities and there should be one where you live or near where you live. You can search for local housing authorities by typing that phrase and your location into the search bar. See what comes up and, if there is contact information available, use it.
What are Local Preferences and Waiting Lists? How Do They Affect Me?
The demand for housing exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and and local housing agencies. As such, long waiting periods are common. It’s often the case that a PHA will close it’s waiting list when there are more families on the list that can be assisted in the near future. However, PHA will give local preferences to applicants on the waiting list if:
- The family is living in insufficient housing or is homeless.
- The family’s rent costs them more than 50% of their monthly income.
- A family is displaced through no fault of their own.
Families who are living under any of the above conditions may move ahead of other families on the waiting list. Each PHA has the discretion to establish local preferences to reflect the housing needs and priorities of its particular community.
If I Receive The Section 8 Voucher, Will I be Able To Pay My Rent?
The formula for the Section 8 Voucher is as follows:
Tenant Rent Payment = Monthly Earnings X 30%
The assistance will cover the following:
Assistance Amount = Total Rent – Tenant Rent Payment
So, if you make $1,500 a month, you would pay $500 toward rent ($1,500 X 30%). If the cost of rent for the unit is $700, your landlord will receive $200 worth of subsidy for your rent.
How Long Will I Have To Wait?
There’s no straightforward answer to this as wait times are always long for these types of subidies and budget cuts common. Many families are in need of these housing subsidy programs as rent, especially in larger cities keep growing and almost all the local housing authorities nationwide have long waiting lists. Keep trying and hopefully an opportunity comes your way, as this program can really help families dig themselves out of financial holes and start anew.
However, if your housing situation is urgent, under exceptional cisrcumstance, priority waiting lists do exists. If you are homeless or have suffered domestic violence at home and need an affordable place to go, you should contact the housing authority in your area and find out what the best options are in a serious situation.