The program now known as the Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program was created under the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. Currently, the program serves roughly 2 million households each year. Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is administered through local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs). All other federally-funded housing programs are also administered through local PHAs under the same funding stream.
Housing Choice (Section 8) vouchers are granted to eligible low-income families who meet eligibility requirements and get accepted into the program. Vouchers are used to subsidize rent payments in housing chosen by the participant. Voucher recipients pay their share of then rent (usually 30% of the rent payment) directly the landlord. The PHA pays the voucher value directly to the landlord as well.
President Obama’s 2015 fiscal year budget included $46.7 billion for HUD. Within this, money was designated to increase the number of Housing Choice (Section 8) vouchers available, better assistance for homeless families and provide community investments in neighborhoods experiencing high poverty. The Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program budget is $20 billion, which is $.9 billion higher than the 2014 fiscal year. This money will help more than 2.2 million families afford rent in communities they choose to live in. In 2013, the budget for assisted housing units was cut. The 2015 funding restores this deficit and leaves enough funding for 40,000 new vouchers to be given.
Check Your Eligibility
Of those new vouchers, 10,000 have been earmarked to help homeless veterans find suitable housing. The assistance is part of the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. Veteran homelessness decreased 24% from 2010 to 2013. President Obama’s goal is to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. The $75 million funding these vouchers was a data-driven investment — using data, research and national best practices to guide the strategy.
Funds for all federal funding programs come from an operating fund and capital fund. PHAs also compete for additional HUD funding, in the form of grants or project-based sums, on a case by case basis. For the past few years, Congress has not approved enough funding to maintain the operating budget. Because of this, most PHAs have been forced to operate at 85% or less than their required budgets during this time. There has been much scrutiny over this gap and although the current budget offers some relief, many feel that there is more to be done.