How to Apply for Housing Assistance (Section 8 Vouchers)

What are Housing Choice or Section 8 Vouchers?

Housing Choice Vouchers or Section 8 vouchers are for helping very low income families, the disabled and the elderly who cannot afford decent, safe and sanitary housing - normally in the private market.

The program is locally administered by public housing agencies (PHAs). All prospective houses or apartments must pass the PHA’s health and safety standards.

The program can answer for the lesser amount of either the standard payment minus 30% of the applicant’s monthly adjusted income, or the gross rent for the house or apartment minus 30% of the monthly adjusted income.

Why should I get them?

If you qualify and apply, you will be able to choose your own apartment or house. As long as the house or unit meets your local PHA’s guidelines, you are the one who chooses where you will live, within limits. Even better, depending on the guidelines of your PHA or state laws for voucher use, you can even use the vouchers to buy a proper home for your family.

The amount that the program pays for in your rent depends on your PHA and state local guidelines. The payment is coursed directly to your landlord by the PHA.

The bottom line is that the program helps you save by paying for a significant amount of the rent or mortgage.

Am I Eligible?

Qualification is based primarily on the applicant’s total annual gross income and family size. You also have to be:

- A U.S. citizen

- A person with eligible immigration status

Usually, the person’s personal or total family income should not go past 50% of the median income for the local area or where the family is looking to settle in. 75% of the vouchers given to a PHA are by law assigned to persons or families whose incomes are at or below 30% of the local median income. Local income levels are assigned by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but the PHA provides the income limits for area and family size.

How do I apply for them?

Contact the local PHA or HUD office for more information. They will see if you are eligible by checking your family assets, income and family composition. Once they have double-checked with banks or employers, they will determine how much they can use to help you with your rent if you qualify. You’ll then be put on a waiting list for giving out vouchers. PHAs have the right to determine if certain applicants should receive vouchers first, based on need or immediate housing situation.