Section 8: Vouchers

What Are Section 8 Rental Vouchers?

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to rent decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. Since the rental assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find and lease privately owned housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program.

Eligibility for a Housing Choice Voucher is based on the total annual income for the family size and is limited to U.S. citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, the family's income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. Median Income Levels are published by HUD and vary by location. During the application process, an applicant supplies proof of family income, assets and family composition to determine program eligibility and the amount of the rental assistance payment. Call, mail, e-mail or drop by the Housing Authority for an application. If eligible, applicant's name is placed on a waiting list.

Rental Vouchers - How Do They Function?

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. A very low-income family who has been selected to participate is encouraged to consider several housing choices to secure the best rental housing for its needs. The rental unit must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before the payments to landlords under the rental voucher program can be approved. When the rental voucher holder finds a unit that it wishes to occupy and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the dwelling must be inspected and the lease must be reviewed for approval by the Housing Authority.

A rental voucher holder is also advised of the unit size for which it is eligible, based on family size and composition, and the applicable rent levels. In the rental voucher program, the Housing Authority determines a payment standard which is used to calculate the amount of rental assistance a family will receive, but does not affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family may pay.

Family Share Of Rent

Under the Housing Choice Voucher program the family has the option of selecting a unit with a rent that is more or less than the Housing Authority's payment standard. The final calculation of the family's share of the housing costs and the Housing Assistance Payment cannot be completed until the family has selected a unit.

The minimum amount a family will contribute is 30% of the family's adjusted income regardless of the unit selected.

The family share may not exceed 40% of the family's monthly adjusted income when the family initially moves into the unit or signs the first assisted lease for a unit.

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