With everything being more expensive now, many people can’t afford to pay rent anymore. Some people have been working hard to keep up with the high price of housing. However, besides paying rent, all of us have other basic necessities that we need to pay for. That includes food, medicines, and even clothing. That’s why the government offers the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program. So how does this program work? Who is eligible to benefit from the program? These are all great questions that this article will address!
Understanding the Section 8 Program
For housing costs to be reasonable, they should not exceed 30% of a family’s total income per month. This is based on the definition of affordable housing from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). However, this is almost never the case, and people end up paying a lot more for housing than they can afford. That’s when the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also referred to as Section 8, comes into play. This program gives housing choice vouchers to people and households in need. That said, the only way people can benefit from these vouchers is if they meet the conditions of the program. Additionally, after getting accepted into the program, recipients must select a property that complies with the 13 primary criteria for housing quality standards (HQS). The standards include performance criteria as well as the conditions that must be met for each performance requirement to be acceptable. This brings us to how people can utilize their housing choice vouchers. Essentially, after the recipients pick a rental of their choice, the landlord will be given vouchers for the property on behalf of the family. Furthermore, for anyone wondering, the local public housing agencies (PHAs) are in charge of overseeing this program, which is financed by HUD. Since 1974, this government program has been providing housing help to families in need.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program: Is It Beneficial?
To be able to explain the benefits of the housing choice vouchers, we need to do a little calculation first, and the numbers will all be before tax. Let’s say a person earns $10 an hour for 40 hours a week; that results in a monthly take-home pay of about $1,600. Having said that, in the United States, an apartment costs an average of $1,718 a month as of February 2023, according to Rent Cafe. This means that a person who gets paid $2,600 a month (before tax) will only be left with about 800 dollars a month after they’ve covered their rent payment. This is where the burden of housing costs comes from, as people are only able to live check to check because they have housing costs that they can’t afford. The government is aware of this, which is why rent payments made after these vouchers are applied will not be more than 30% of a household’s gross monthly income. With all that being said, according to studies, vouchers are able to assist people with housing problems and overall minimize homelessness.
Qualifying for the HCV Program
The Section 8 program is a great opportunity for people looking for housing assistance. However, the program prioritizes people who need the most help. Additionally, so many people seek this support option that sometimes even those who are accepted will be added to a waitlist before they can receive benefits. People who want to take advantage of the program have to first meet four main criteria to be eligible. Essentially, different locations will affect the precise qualifying conditions, but overall, people are accepted based on:
- History of Eviction
- Status of Citizenship
- The Status of the Family
- Maximum Gross Income
History of Eviction
The local PHA will only accept people with a decent rental history. Additionally, a person may be immediately disqualified if:
- The person has ever been found guilty of producing methamphetamine in government housing.
- The person has a history of being kicked out of a place for engaging in drug use or other criminal behavior.
Status of Citizenship
The Section 8 housing program can only help so many people. That’s why the status of citizenship plays such a big role in the acceptance criteria. Applicants for these benefits, as well as members of their household, must sign a certification form confirming their citizenship status. Sometimes there will be households with a mix of people who have an eligible citizenship status and those who do not. The benefits, however, will only be determined by how many people qualify in a household. Also, people need to remember that this program is only available to eligible non-citizens and citizens of the United States. Therefore, applicants should be prepared to provide extra supporting documentation to the local PHA. These documents could be Social Security cards, registration cards, resident alien cards, and U.S. passports.
The Status of the Family
The local PHA is still allowed by HUD to define what a family is, even though HUD has its own definition. That said, a family situation must fulfill some requirements in order to be eligible for this housing assistance. Families are not required to fulfill all the eligibility requirements. However, they need to meet at least one to qualify. Additionally, the level of assistance people are eligible for depends on their family size. Thus, any changes in a household must be notified to the local PHA right away.
Maximum Gross Income
Those who request Section 8 help must submit proof of their income. That said, the Section 8 application requires applicants to list a number of sources of income. Generally, eligible households must make less than 50% of the area’s median income (AMI) in their neighborhood. Moreover, an applicant’s yearly salary cannot surpass a specific level, and they should have documentation to prove that. The exact paperwork that individuals must submit may differ, which brings up the question of why income plays a part in the Section 8 application. It’s basically because this housing assistance program is designed for people who are financially struggling. Thus, it’s very important that people who benefit from this program have a low income. To learn about the criteria in their area, individuals need to speak with their local PHA.
The name of the Housing Choice Voucher Program says it all. It’s basically a program that gives housing choice vouchers to people and households in need. Those who are interested in the Section 8 housing assistance program can contact their local PHA. Essentially, housing vouchers allow households to spend more of their limited resources on other necessities by saving on their housing costs. So who is eligible for this housing support opportunity? The qualifying circumstances will vary depending on where the applicant lives. Thankfully, the government is aware of how expensive housing can be, and so people may receive the help they deserve!