The Section 8 program aims to help people with one of the most basic of human needs: shelter. As rent prices continue to rise, programs like this can be helpful to individuals and families that just can't seem to make ends meet. But what exactly is Section 8, and how does it work?
Section 8 is a housing voucher program offered by the U.S. federal government that provides “decent, safe and sanitary” housing to eligible families and individuals.
Administered by your local Public Housing Agency (PHA), Section 8 receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Three specific groups can benefit from this government program: very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled. You must either be a U.S. citizen or fall into a specific category of non-citizens with eligible immigration status.
To receive housing vouchers, you must also meet other criteria related to income, assets and family composition. Your local PHA will verify all of this with your bank, employer and other institutions you may be associated with.
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Upon receiving your housing voucher, you're responsible for finding a suitable apartment or other type of housing that meets Section 8 requirements. You'll be advised of what size unit you should be looking for based on your family size and composition.
Once you find a place, the landlord or property owner must agree to let you rent under the program’s terms and conditions. The housing unit must also meet minimum health and safety standards that are set by your local PHA. The unit will be inspected, and the rent amount requested must be deemed “reasonable.”
Once you're officially enrolled and moved in, the PHA will pay the landlord a housing subsidy on your behalf. You're responsible for the difference between the actual rent and the subsidy amount.
Please note that the actual calculation of the final amount you’ll pay is much more complex than what we've shown here. The amount you’ll pay out of pocket is determined by a number of different factors including but not limited to:
For more specific information about Section 8, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s official website.