If you’ve never applied for Section 8 housing assistance before, now’s the time to get familiar with the program, especially if you see tough times ahead. To help you achieve that goal, here are some basic questions and answers on how Housing Choice Vouchers work.
How much is a Section 8 voucher worth?
That depends on the location of the housing. On average, a Section 8 tenant will be expected to pay 30 percent of their monthly income towards the rent. The remainder will be paid by the local Public Housing Agency (PHA) directly to the landlord.
In some cases, tenants may find housing that exceeds the PHA’s “payment standard” and be more expensive than recommended. If so, the tenant may end up paying up to 40 percent of their income towards the rent.
By keeping the vast majority of income in your pocket, you can see how a Section 8 voucher could keep you afloat if tough times arise once again.
Is everyone eligible for Section 8?
No, as Section 8 is mostly intended for low-income families that fit basic criteria, such as:
- Being 18 years of age or older.
- Being U.S. citizens or non-citizens with eligible immigration status.
- Earning below 50 percent of the median income for an area.
Is Section 8 a form of emergency rental assistance?
No, as the process can take years to complete, depending on the demand for housing. In other words, if you’re looking for immediate housing help due to the coronavirus, you’ll need to seek other options.
Section 8 is, however, a solid solution for long-term rental assistance that can keep your family in safe, affordable housing into the future.
Are Section 8 vouchers limited to one location? Can they be moved?
While some PHAs may require Section 8 tenants to remain in an area’s housing for one year, they usually allow for the “portability” of vouchers to other locations after that period passes.
Are Housing Choice Vouchers transferable to other people?
While they can be transferred to new locations when a family wants to move after a particular time, Section 8 vouchers are not transferable between people unless the head of the household dies.
Do vouchers have deadlines for when they must be used by?
Yes, but a voucher recipient usually has at least 60 days to find housing. If an extension is needed, it will be up to the PHA to allow it.
Do Housing Choice Vouchers expire?
As long as the household is living in an approved Section 8 unit, in good standing with the PHA, and still eligible for the program, they can continue to receive housing assistance with no expiration date.
Can you use a Section 8 voucher to pay rent in any dwelling you choose?
No, as it must adhere to the HUD’s Housing Quality Standards to ensure it’s safe and up to code.
Will finding a home before you get your voucher lead to quicker approval?
No, as you will have to remain on the waiting list before you can get a voucher to use towards rent. While on the waiting list, you can search for Section 8 housing to be prepared to move when the time comes, however.
How can you apply for Section 8?
You can begin the process by going here to locate your PHA and contacting them.