If you're a low income renter or homeowner who needs financial assistance to pay rent or monthly mortgage installments, the Section 8 housing programs are what you may need. This article explains how the Section 8 housing programs work, what are the eligibility criteria and what amount of funds are available.
What is Section 8 Housing Rental Program?
The Section 8 Housing Rental Voucher Program is available to low income families, disabled persons and elders who can't afford to pay for safe and decent housing. Under this program, families are expected to pay 30% of the rent while the Section 8 Rental Voucher Program pays the rest up to the payment standard set by the local Public Housing Authority (PHA) where one applies for the Voucher. This payment standard is almost 80-100% of the fair market rent. If you choose a rental unit with higher fair market rent, then you'll have to pay additional rent charges in excess of the fair market value, besides paying the 30% rent on your own.
What is the eligibility for Section 8 Housing Rental Voucher?
Section 8 housing requirements are given below:
- Your earnings must be less than 50% of the Area Median Income.
- The rental unit should meet the Section 8 quality standards.
How do I apply for Section 8 Housing Rental Voucher?
First of all, contact your nearest Public Housing Authority and fix an appointment. Bring along the required documents - paystubs, statements of financial benefits you receive, etc. The PHA will be able to tell whether you qualify for Section 8 housing assistance. Then fill out the application for Section 8 housing rental assistance. Request the PHA to provide you with a list of rental properties in your area. Look out for properties which fall under Section 8 Housing Rental Program. Contact the landlords of those properties and arrange for a walk-through.
What is the Section 8 Homeownership Voucher?
This is a Section 8 housing assistance program offered to those who need financial help to meet up with their monthly mortgage payments or other homeownership expenses. However, not all PHAs participate in this program. You can get a list of the participating PHAs
from the HUD website.
Section 8 Homeownership Voucher covers the following expenses:
- Monthly mortgage payment with property tax and insurance premiums.
- Mortgage insurance premiums payable each month.
- PHA allowance for utility bills, repairs, maintenance costs, etc.
There can be other coverages, which you can confirm by contacting your local PHA.
How much money is available for homeownership expenses?
If your homeownership expenses are equal to or less than the payment standard (maximum amount payable by the PHA) set by the PHA in your area, you'll have to pay 30% of the adjusted monthly income towards your expenses while the rest will be available under the Section 8 homeownership program.
However, if your homeownership expenses exceed the payment standard in your area, you'll have to pay the extra funds. If your expenses are too high, chances are that the PHA may not approve you for the program.
Who all are eligible for the homeownership voucher?
Given below are the criteria for getting homeownership assistance.
- Already received Section 8 rental voucher: First-time buyers (those who haven't had ownership interest in any residential property for the past 3 years) or co-operative members can qualify for Section 8 homeownership program. But this is possible only after they've received Section 8 vouchers (for rental assistance) from a PHA which participates in the Section 8 homeownership program.
- Income requirement: Other than disabled persons, adult family members likely to own the home, must have annual income not less than the federal minimum hourly wage multiplied by 2000. The qualified annual income of adult members (likely to own the home) in disabled families shouldn't be less than the monthly Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for an individual staying alone, multiplied by 12.
- Employment: Other than disabled and elderly families, one or more adults in families looking for Section 8 housing assistance, should be currently employed and should have been on a full-time job for at least 1 year before taking advantage of the homeownership program.
- Property standards: The property to be purchased should meet the standards and pass an initial housing quality standard inspection carried out by the PHA. It should also pass through a separate home inspection prior to the PHA approving the home purchase.
- Counseling: The family applying for assistance should attend a homeownership counseling session organized by the PHA.
Apart from the factors given above, one needs to satisfy other criteria set by the PHA, in order to qualify for the Section 8 Homeownership Voucher.
What is Section 8 waiting list?
If there are a number of applicants for section 8 housing vouchers, the PHA keeps some of the individuals under a waiting list. At times, the PHA may even close the waiting list and stop accepting applications. In such a situation, you can wait till the list opens again. Or else, you may apply in another jurisdiction where the waiting list is kept open. However, you may have to reside in that jurisdiction for at least 1 year.
How long do I need to wait once I'm on the waiting list?
Once you're on the waiting list, the time period you need to wait varies from one PHA to another. Contact your PHA and get an estimate of how long you'll have to wait. The waiting period can vary from several months to years.
If you're already on Section 8 housing rental assistance, you have the chance to switch over to homeownership assistance in case you intend to buy a home. Check if you satisfy the qualifying criteria for the homeownership program. Just locate your nearest
Public Housing Authority
and find out whether you qualify for the program or how long you'll need to wait if you're on the waiting list already.
Last updated on September 29, 2013
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