A Lifeline When You Need It: How to Qualify for a Section 8 Voucher
- Author: Bobby Kub
- Posted: 2023-05-16
In life, unexpected events happen, and people sometimes find themselves in a situation where they can no longer afford to pay their mortgage. This is terrifying for homeowners who are used to having their own space to live in, and it's even more alarming for renters who have very little money saved up and nothing but the clothes on their backs. Section 8 housing provides an affordable rent subsidy that helps qualified low-income families by providing vouchers or paying the landlord directly. Section 8, a federal program, requires the household to meet specific requirements to be eligible for a Section 8 voucher.
1. Income Limits
Annually, HUD comes up with a reasonable estimate of what the average American family's income should be. Income limits are calculated as a percentage of the median income for the county in which you live. Different income limits are based on how much money you can make and still qualify. For example, if you earn 30% of the county's median income, you would be eligible as having a low income. If you make 40% of the county's median income, you qualify as being on the very lowest level of income range. Suppose you don't fit in any of these ranges. In that case, HUD will try to determine your family's current situation by seeing their monthly budget and how much money is coming in. Depending on your income level status, HUD will offer you a voucher to assist you in paying your rent.
2. Citizenship Status
U.S. citizenship is not a requirement for eligibility, but you must be a legal resident of the United States. Some immigrant categories qualify for the program if they have lived in the country for at least five years or receive a federal housing subsidy. A declaration signed by family members stating they are permanent residents is also required. Additional documentation such as a U.S. passport, Resident alien card, Registration card, and Social Security card can also be used to determine eligibility and are required if you have been authorized for an extension of stay or changed your immigration status. For immigrants, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has to prove that they have lived outside the U.S. for at least five years, have been admitted as immigrants, and have applied for an extension of stay or changed their non-immigrant status.
3. Family Status
The size and composition of the household will determine whether you are eligible for a Section 8 voucher. HUD has established its definitions for family and household status. The program defines family as a group of two or more people who live together and consider themselves related by blood, marriage, or adoption. All adults over 18 should be counted in this number, including those who will not receive a voucher. Displaced families who are victims of domestic violence or child abuse and live in transitional housing, homeless families, and foster care children who spend most nights at a relative's home can also be included in the number. HUD will consist of all children in this calculation regardless of their eligibility for the program. If a family member is temporarily absent because they are away at school, on business, etc., that person will be counted in the household number.
4. Eviction History
Having a bad rental history can be enough to disqualify a household from receiving a Section 8. This is because it goes against the Section 8 policy of providing housing to those in need, and re-homing someone who has been evicted could cause issues with the property owner. To be eligible for a Section 8 voucher, it's recommended that clients have no eviction history. HUD requires that the homeowner have no more than two evictions in the past three years and that removals be for non-payment of rent or other non-compliance issues. Violating PHA (Public Housing Agency) rules, such as having too many pets or not keeping the yard well enough, qualify a household for Section 8.
Section 8 housing is not just a way to get help with rent but also an opportunity to find affordable housing in areas that may not have been previously accessible. Section 8 eligibility can be hard to meet sometimes, and you may have to wait before receiving a voucher. Understanding your situation can help you ensure you meet all the requirements to qualify for Section 8 housing.