What is Section 8 Housing?
Formally known as the housing choice voucher program, what's commonly called "Section 8 rentals" refers to homes that qualify to have a chunk of the rent paid by the government. The formula is a relatively simple one: Any amount of the rent and utilities combined that exceeds 30 percent of the occupants' collective income is handled by the program. Naturally, this is designed to help people who struggle to pay for their housing.
Oversight is provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which supplies the laws and data necessary to fulfill the voucher program. The Public Housing Agency (PHA) is who the public generally works with when applying for a voucher.
The PHA assesses the annual gross income of an applicant to determine their eligibility for a voucher. The program is reserved primarily for U.S. citizens, although there are exceptions wherein non-citizens belonging to certain categories may also qualify. The more complicated requirements are as follows:
- The household income must be less than 51 percent of the average home income for the jurisdiction where the occupants are situated. The median income figures for each jurisdiction are released by the HUD, and the PHA representatives for a given area can assist families in accordance with this information.
- Legally speaking, the PHA is required to give 75 percent of its funds to the portion of its applicants whose incomes are less than 31 percent of the median income for their jurisdiction. This means that the other 25 percent is given to those who fall between the 31-50 percent marks; this ensures that the majority of the PHA's funding is granted to those who need it most.
- All information provided to the PHA by applicants is reviewed and cross-referenced with family, friends and businesses that are involved in the applicant's life somehow. This is to verify that the applicant is indeed eligible for Section 8 assistance.
What to Expect
Families who apply will be given the option of where to live when they've been approved for a voucher. The PHA encourages members to select a unit that best suits the needs of the family provided the unit is within the jurisdiction that the family has applied for. However, based on parameters such as family size and individual needs, the PHA will place an upper limit on how large the unit can be. Being a government benefit program, this is designed to help tenants keep a roof over their head, not afford an affluent standard of living.
Units are broken down by payment standards. To keep it simple, any family who is eligible for a voucher will be required to spend up to 30 percent of their household income toward Section 8 house rent while the PHA handles the rest, but if the selected unit exceeds the standard, the figure for Section 8 houses rent is bumped up to 40 percent instead. Housing standards are determined according to the average price of an average home within the jurisdiction, meaning that the voucher is recommended for those who are willing to settle for good enough.
Top 5 Routes for "Section 8 House Rentals"
- Cornell.edu This website for the Cornell Law School outlines the federal laws governing Section 8 housing.
- HUD.gov The official government website for the HUD has their own piece on what Section 8 is and how to qualify.
- Affordablehousingonline.com This article gives its own perspective on the common questions asked about Section 8 housing.
- Section8facts.com For those who are looking at alternatives to Section 8 solutions, this article is worth a check.
- Masslegalhelp.org Outlining the difference between subsidized and public housing solutions is an essential step in the process of determining where one should look for a home.
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