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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
Hi Fannie webster,

Welcome to the forum.

You can contact your local Public Housing Agency and talk to them directly at

Hope this helps.
Posted on: 18th Apr, 2008 02:39 am
Posted on: 01st May, 2008 11:16 am
Posted on: 01st May, 2008 11:17 am
To qualify for section 8 program you should be a low income individual. I feel you should contact Local Housing Authorities to get approved for the program. But the Section 8 program gas been oversubscribed and you may be in waiting list for years. To know about the waiting time in your area you can call housing authority in your area.

If you are a low income individual, elderly person or disabled person the Federal Housing Program will provide housing assistance to you.

Let me know if you have any further questions.
Posted on: 01st May, 2008 11:55 pm
looking to or forrent with the option to buy
Posted on: 28th Aug, 2008 12:34 pm
Welcome Linda,

Do you have a query on section 8 voucher? please put it down here so that anyone participating here can give his/her suggestions.
Posted on: 29th Aug, 2008 02:26 am
Im trying to find out what the amount of a section 8 voucher is suppose to be?
Posted on: 21st Sep, 2008 05:49 pm
Posted on: 23rd Sep, 2008 03:44 pm

Welcome to MortgageFit Forums!

There are two requirements which you need to fulfill if you are trying to go for Section 8 waiting list in Virginia. The first one is that your house should qualify as a "family" and the second one is that you should meet the annual income guidelines. If you have fulfilled both of them, then you can contact HUD.

Hope this will help you.


Posted on: 24th Sep, 2008 01:17 am
i was wanting to get info on getting assistiant with housing for me and my family
Posted on: 20th Oct, 2008 02:00 pm
Hi charles rumsey!

The housing choice voucher program (Section8) is one of the federal government's important program for helping very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled so that they can afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.

In the given link, you will find discussions by lenders in relation to section 8 voucher program:
Please have a look.

Posted on: 20th Oct, 2008 10:18 pm
can anyone update me on california section 8 housing requirements?
Posted on: 27th Nov, 2008 11:36 pm
Hi tony,

Whether you are eligible for a housing voucher or not is determined by the PHA. It will depend on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens. There are certain specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status can also qualify for this housing voucher.

The income of the family applying for this program should not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area where the family is presently living. According to the law, PHA must provide 75 percent of its voucher to applicants whose income is not above 30 percent of the median income of the area. The median income levels vary from one place to another. You will have to contact the PHA serving your community to know about the income limits for your area and family size.

When you are applying, the PHA will collect information on assets, family income and family composition. It will then cross check the information with your employer, banks as well as local agencies. Then it will use the information to determine program eligibility. It will decide on the amount of the housing assistance you will be getting. If you are eligible, then the PHA will put your name on a waiting list if it is not able to assist you immediately. Once your name is reached on the waiting list, the PHA will issue a housing voucher to you.


Posted on: 28th Nov, 2008 02:01 am
can u please tell me where there is an open
Posted on: 15th Jan, 2009 12:42 pm
Hey bigmamashare,

You will have to contact the housing authority of your county and find out if you and your family qualifies for Section 8 Program. Once you have applied and qualified, you will be placed on a list for a voucher.
Posted on: 15th Jan, 2009 10:48 pm
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