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Section 8 housing programs: Get help to pay rent or mortgage

Author: Jessica Bennet
Community Mentor
Ask Jessica
Posted on: 10th Nov, 2006 01:27pm
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.
Posted on: 10th Nov, 2006 01:27 pm
kindly give some information about the section 8 voucher program

Section 8 housing or section 8 voucher program is a federal housing assistance program which is administered by Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Public Housing Agencies (PHAs).

The section 8 housing program assists people with disabilities, elders and low income families in paying for decent and safe housing.

Posted on: 10th Nov, 2006 01:53 pm
I have some more information about the Section 8 Voucher Program.

This program is used to give financial assistance in the private housing market through a subsidy which is based on a person's household income and the cost of housing.

Posted on: 10th Nov, 2006 02:26 pm
Thanks all you for the information, kindly if possible I would also like to know about the way by which section 8 housing assistance actually works.thanks again
Posted on: 10th Nov, 2006 02:49 pm

For the Section 8 Voucher program the household must apply to the Public Housing Agency and get on the waiting list.

After the Section 8 voucher is issued the household must identify housing that can be approved under section 8 rules.

Posted on: 10th Nov, 2006 02:59 pm
Thanks Clark :)
Posted on: 10th Nov, 2006 05:23 pm
Hi Guest,

The section 8 Voucher program is the largest Federal low-income housing assistance program awarded to low-income families. This program provides for a certain amount of the cost required to pay for rent and utilities. The family getting such assistance has to contribute 30% of its income for rent and utilities while the rest is paid by the housing agency providing the Section 8 Voucher.

To know about eligibility for section 8 housing and other details, refer to the page on Section 8 Vouchers: .


Posted on: 10th Nov, 2006 08:51 pm
please give information on how to obtain a section 8 voucher
Posted on: 21st Nov, 2006 12:18 pm
Hi Yaitr,

Let me explain how the procedure works:
  1. Applicants at the top of the waiting list are issued vouchers.
  2. Voucher holders can use the voucher in the housing they currently live in or search for new housing.
  3. Section 8 housing must:
    • Meet HUD's Housing Quality Standards.
    • Have a rent that is reasonable in comparison to comparable housing units.
  4. Participant is given at least 60 days to search for appropriate housing, PHAs can establish extended housing search time.
  5. Owner/manager must be willing to participate in Section 8 program.
Do let us know if you have any other questions.

Posted on: 21st Nov, 2006 12:28 pm
Thanks a lot for explaining the procedure.
Posted on: 21st Nov, 2006 04:25 pm
i would like to know where to apply for open enrollments for section 8 vouchers. Can i apply for section 8 housing online?
Posted on: 15th Jun, 2007 01:23 pm
Hi Yaya,

Welcome to Mortgagefit discussion board.

I don't think you can apply online for section 8 housing online. You can apply for assistance at your nearest Public Housing Agency (PHA) & get on the waiting list. You can search for your local PHA from here - PHA Contact Information. After the voucher is issued you will have to identify the housing which would get approval under the Section 8 rules. You can use this page to search for low rent apartments in your region.

If it meets the standards PHA will then pay your landlord an amount equal to what the difference comes to between 30% of your adjusted income or 10% of gross income & PHA determined payment standard set for your area.

Do let me know if you have any other questions.

Posted on: 15th Jun, 2007 01:49 pm
My section 8 housing application is on the waiting list for years. i wanted to know my status. i am also currently on a new waiting list
Posted on: 11th Jan, 2008 08:42 am
Welcome Tamara,

You can contact your state Public Housing Authority (PHA) from and talk to them directly. You can also talk to the Office of Public Housing within your local HUD office.
Posted on: 12th Jan, 2008 09:28 pm
Hi hope,

Please refer to the website suggested by Adonis in the post above. You can approach the nearest Public Housing Authority and collect the form to apply for Section 8 housing.

Take Care
Posted on: 07th Feb, 2008 10:33 pm
I have signed up for housin in two states: Dallas,Tx and Tallulah,La. and i haven't heard a response from housing i need to know where im located on the waiting list
Posted on: 17th Apr, 2008 06:45 am
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