The Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program provides rent subsidies to low-income and very low-income families. Vouchers are administered on a local level through Public Housing Agencies (PHA).
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has established the basic eligibility criteria for families to participate in the program. Four areas are considered: family composition, income, citizenship and past evictions. PHAs have the authority to establish further criteria, either within or outside of these areas, to better meet the needs of the communities they serve. Your PHA will be able to advise you of further requirements before applying.
HUD’s definition of family is quite broad and encompasses nearly all households. According to HUD, a family includes a single person or group of people:
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- Who do or do not have children.
- Where one or more people is over 62.
- Where one or more people have a disability.
- Who have been displaced from a home through damage caused by a natural or other federally recognized disaster or government intervention.
- Who stay in a housing unit where the household was receiving Section 8 vouchers after other family members move out.
- Who is single and does not fit into any of the above criteria.
Since the Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program is designed to assist very low- and low-income individuals, income is the most important eligibility requirement. HUD sets income limits on an annual basis. Income limits are based on the median income in your area. Low-income households earn less than 80% of the area’s median income. Very low-income families earn less than 50% of the area’s median income. Extremely low income families earn less than 30% of the area’s median income. Priority is given to households whose income is classified as very low and extremely low, though low-income families may sometimes receive assistance.
Housing Choice (Section 8) vouchers are only given to U.S. citizens or individuals with eligible immigration status. Your local PHA will require all household members to submit documentation confirming their citizenship status. If some individuals in the household do not have citizenship or eligible immigration status, eligibility will be based on the family size for those who do have it.
The Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program has very strict rules against drug-related criminal activity. If any member of your household has been evicted for drug-related crime within the last three years or convicted of producing methamphetamine in federal housing, you will not be eligible to receive rental vouchers.