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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
Welcome anonymous,

As far as I know, Section 8 won't help you in paying your current mortgage.
Posted on: 09th Feb, 2011 08:42 pm

I bought this house over a year ago, and know I am possible looking at taking a job out of state, even though I owe a mortgage, can I section 8 this house out, in case I cant sell it.
Posted on: 27th Feb, 2011 03:29 pm
Welcome dam,

You may be able to Section 8 the house. You should contact the Public Housing Authority of your state and check out the steps required to convert it into Section 8 housing.
Posted on: 27th Feb, 2011 10:12 pm
Sorry but i have a few questions. When buying a home through the section8 homeownership program, is there a maximum price that we caint go above? Also, is there a site for which we can find a home to buy with the program? Or do we find our on home through a realty company on our own?
Posted on: 02nd Mar, 2011 10:12 pm
Hi. I was hospitalized for a few weeks and the doctor has not allowed me to return to work. I was working as a waiter and have no medical insurance or sick leave. I am at risk to be evicted from my apartment because I will not be able to return to work for quite some time due to my medical condition. Can someone please contact me to help me apply for section 8 assistance? My name is Gene and my phone number is 954-646-4599. Thank you so much.
Posted on: 08th Mar, 2011 07:14 am
Hi Guest,

You haven't mentioned the state you live in. You can contact the Public Housing Authority of your state and take their help in buying the property through section 8 home ownership program. The Public Housing Authority will give you a complete idea in this matter.

To Gene,

You will have to contact the Public Housing Authority in order to get help regarding Section 8.

Posted on: 08th Mar, 2011 10:08 pm
I need some serious aide. My mother is elderly and I am on disability slso. I'm trying to better myself but right now we need help financially because I have several bills of my own. Is there a program that helps rhe elderly quickly.? We live together and we really need aide. Please enlighten me.
Posted on: 28th Mar, 2011 06:42 am
Hi Val!

Welcome to forums!

What programs are you looking for? Depending upon the state you live in, your mother can get certain elderly benefits. You should contact the state agencies in this regard and check out if they can help you in this matter.

Feel free to ask if you've further queries.

Posted on: 29th Mar, 2011 12:55 am
10 JULY 2011

I am participating in Section 8 Voucher rental program. I am trying to
figure out how my monthly rent is determined. My yearly SSD income is:
$10,272.00 and my out of pocket Medical expenses were $967.00.

I also pay for the monthly electric; and my hot water is fueled by gas
which is paid by the landlord. I have racked what little brains i have and
am unsuccessful in figuring out my monthly rent. Your help to my
situation is greatly appreciated. Thank you! :oops:
Posted on: 10th Jul, 2011 01:28 pm
Hurtin, have you spoken with your local housing agency to seek their formula? I'm certain that you'll find little specific expertise on Section 8 matters within this forum. Most of us here who have financial expertise are in or around the mortgage lending business; or even consumer loans.

Housing assistance programs, such as Section 8, are a whole different matter. I suggest you call the local agency and ask your questions.
Posted on: 10th Jul, 2011 06:31 pm
Thank you Mr. Akerley for your time and kind reply. I was hoping that
someone could help me with the formula that Hud/locale housing authority

Going to the locale housing authority is a nightmare at best! I am just
trying to get an ideal for checks and balances purposes on the amount the
housing authority comes up with; and how they determine such.

Thank you in advance.
Posted on: 11th Jul, 2011 08:00 am
Sorry for the lack of assistance, though I'm pleased to be able to provide any semblance of good feelings. You might try HUD itself - perhaps their overall website - hud (dot) gov - can bring you closer to where you'd like to be.
Posted on: 11th Jul, 2011 12:13 pm
A house for my family,we live in murfreesboro tn,would love a get a house fenced in back yard to watch my kids play,I've called everyone on the list MHA gave us,I've called realty companies,for rent signs in yards,but I can't give up,I need advice,who else can I turn to,that except section 8 voucher to rent a house.
Thank you
Posted on: 23rd Aug, 2011 05:33 am
Hi Jacqueline,

You can check out online listing of houses in order to find a house which you can rent. Maybe you cannot get exactly what you're looking for but you will be able to definitely get a property which you can rent for the time being.

Posted on: 23rd Aug, 2011 09:03 pm
I have a mortgage. Can I get assistance from Section 8. Or is the home ownership program just for new home buyers?
Posted on: 10th Sep, 2011 10:14 pm
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