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What Is Housing Assistance and How You Can Apply for Section 8

What Is Housing Assistance and How You Can Apply for Section 8

Updated October 6, 2020
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What Is Housing Assistance and How You Can Apply for Section 8

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The Department of Housing and Urban Development's assistance program provides financial assistance to very low-income families who can't afford decent and safe housing on their own.

The United States economy looks strong at a high level, but millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet.

The US Census Bureau estimates that over 38 million Americans are low-income – roughly 1 out of every eight citizens falls below the poverty line – specifically, they earn less than $25,465 per year.

The government has programs meant to help these Americans through public housing assistance.

What Is the Section 8 Public Housing Program?

Before diving into the qualifications, it is essential to understand what the Section 8 housing program is all about. Section 8 is a public housing program administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

For eligible applicants, HUD issues housing choice vouchers. The voucher is essentially a government subsidy that pays a portion or all of the monthly rent. If rent exceeds the subsidy amount, the applicant is responsible for paying the remaining amount.

Who Qualifies for Section 8 Housing

Now that you understand what Section 8 housing is, it is time to see whether you are eligible. According to HUD, there are four primary eligibility requirements.

Income Requirements

Not everyone earns enough money to get approved for a mortgage. HUD will verify whether or not your income meets its eligibility thresholds before deciding to issue you a voucher. In order to receive the subsidy, your income must be less than 50% of the median income within your locality.

Priority is given to applicants with the lowest income. It must allocate 75% of its vouchers to applicants that earn less than 30% of the locality’s median income by law. Those that make more than 30% but less than 50% may end up on a waitlist.

Family Status

HUD is looking to support those in need based on specific criteria. Priority is given to applicants that are impoverished and have children. The disabled, the elderly, and people displaced due to natural disaster also receive priority. Single people can also apply and receive assistance if they are eligible.

Eviction History

It's important to know the factors that can make it more difficult for you to receive assistance through housing programs. For example, the HUD will make sure its participants are not involved in drug-related activity, or if the applicant has a history of evictions.

Just because you have been evicted in the past in the past does make it impossible to receive assistance. HUD will typically only deny applicants who have been evicted in the last three years for specific reasons, such as drug activity or any convictions for producing methamphetamines in a public assistance unit.

Citizenship Status

Section 8 housing is only available for applicants that are here legally. You must either be a U.S. citizen or have valid immigration status. You will have to provide documentation that supports your citizenship or immigration status.

A Recap of How You Can Apply for Section 8

Section 8 is a great program designed to help impoverished Americans. You can apply for assistance at your local public housing agency (PHA).

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