Determining Your Eligibility for the Housing Choice Voucher Program

How To Know if YOU Qualify For a Housing Choice Voucher

( – About 8.5 million people in cities and suburbs and 1.5 million others in small towns and rural America rely on rental assistance from the federal government. The housing choice voucher program is one of the government’s various rental assistance programs. However, not everyone qualifies for rental assistance from this program.

Here is a brief guide on the eligibility requirements for the housing choice voucher program. This guide also includes tips on applying for rental assistance from this program.

How Does the Housing Choice Voucher Program Work?

The housing choice voucher program (also known as Section 8) is a rental assistance program for low-income individuals and families. Essentially, the program discounts its beneficiaries’ rent by paying a significant portion (usually 60% – 70%) of their monthly rental payments on their behalf.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers Section 8 via local public housing agencies (PHAs). The PHAs evaluate each applicant’s eligibility and pay housing subsidies to the qualified candidates’ landlords. The beneficiaries then pay the outstanding balance.

Notably, the housing choice voucher program is not limited to subsidized housing projects. Essentially, beneficiaries can rent a moderately-priced house anywhere, if the landlord is willing to work with the program.

It is also worth noting that the program doesn’t guarantee a particular figure – instead, the subsidies are based on payment standards (a baseline amount). Houses priced above the payment standard qualify for less rental assistance. Usually, you pay about 30% of your adjusted gross income for rent for houses within the payment standard, but you may have to pay more than 40% for houses priced above the payment standard.

Eligibility Requirements for the Housing Choice Voucher Program

The HUD and local PHAs have stringent eligibility requirements for qualifying for Section 8 rental assistance. The eligibility requirements include:

1. Citizenship Status

Ideally, you must be a U.S. citizen to qualify for the housing choice voucher program. However, some non-citizens may be eligible in some locations and circumstances. Most PHAs also require applicants to live within their jurisdiction (meaning that you should be a local resident).

2. Income Level

Section 8 is designed to benefit low-income families and individuals. Ideally, applicants should fit the following income brackets to qualify for the program:

  • Low-income – Earning up to 80% of the area’s median income.
  • Very low-income – Earning up to 50% of the area’s median income.
  • Extreme low-income – Earning up to 30% of the area’s median income.

Notably, income requirements vary depending on your location. For example, cities and urban areas have higher income requirements than small towns and rural areas.

3. Family Status

Ideally, your family should meet one or more of the following requirements:

  • It should be comprised of multiple household members, with or without children.
  • At least one household member must be disabled or more than 62 years old.
  • It may have been displaced from its previous or current residence for various reasons.

Individual applicants should also meet most of these eligibility requirements. The HUD also allows PHAs to add other eligibility requirements as they see fit.

4. Eviction History

This program relies on its beneficiaries to pay their portion of the monthly rental payments to work. Ideally, applicants should have a mostly clean eviction history.

5.Criminal Record

One of the goals of the Section 8 program is to help low-income families and individuals find safe places to live. Ideally, applicants should have a clean criminal record.

Applying for the Housing Choice Voucher Program

You can apply for the housing choice voucher program at your local PHA. The PHA will give you an application form requiring the following details:

  • Your family household members’ names.
  • The family head’s name and address.
  • Everyone’s personal details (social security numbers, gender, and dates and places of birth).
  • Your current residency and homelessness status.
  • Your military status.
  • Your disability status.
  • Your criminal records history.
  • Your previous landlords’ names and contact information.
  • Your current employer’s name and contact information.

The local PHA will also require you to submit the following documents for reference:

  • Pay stubs.
  • Tax returns.
  • Bank account statements.
  • Proof of citizenship.
  • Copies of government-issued IDs.
  • Copies of the current rental agreement.

The local PHA will add you to a waiting list if you qualify for the housing choice voucher program. Your waiting time will depend on the number of people in the waiting line and the PHA’s resources.

Key Takeaways

Are you or a loved one in need of rental assistance via the housing choice voucher program? It is advisable to apply early to reduce your waiting time. Get in touch with your local PHA to learn more.

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