Before you go through the trouble of looking for Section 8 homes for rent, you should know what the eligibility requirements are to receive a voucher.
Here are the basics, broken down into four main questions or criteria:
1. Are you a family?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is in charge of the Section 8 program. As such, they determine who is eligible to receive vouchers for affordable housing.
One of the primary factors the HUD looks at in determining eligibility is whether or not you meet their definition of a family. While your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) has the final word on their family definition, here are some examples of what equals familial status:
A person or group of people who meet at least one of the following:
- They have or do not have children.
- They have been displaced from their home due to a natural disaster or a government action.
- One or more people in the household are disabled.
- At least one person in the household is older than 62 years of age.
- A person who stays in the unit after their family who was receiving Section 8 assistance has left.
- A single person who is not described by any of the criteria above.
As you can see, what defines a family in the HUD’s eyes can be quite broad. To get a better idea of your familial status and other Section 8 requirements, contact your nearest PHA office.
2. Are you a citizen?
To get a voucher that can put you in a Section 8 home, you will also need to meet the citizenship status requirement. This means that you and your family members must either be citizens of the United States or have eligible immigrant status.
To determine eligibility in this department, you will be asked to provide documentation of your and your family members’ documentation, which can include:
- A U.S. passport
- Social security card
- INS documents
Can a family that has eligible and non-eligible individuals based on citizenship still qualify for Section 8? Yes, but the amount of aid they can receive will depend on how many eligible members there are.
3. Is your family’s income low enough?
Section 8 housing was designed to aid lower-income families secure housing. For this reason, your family’s annual income must also fall below a specific amount to be eligible for a voucher.
The HUD creates income limits each year that are separated into the following categories:
- Extremely low income – 30 percent of the median income for a location.
- Very low income – 50 percent of the median income for a location.
- Low income – 80 percent of the median income for a location.
Extremely low-income families are given priority over those in the other two categories. The number of family members (between one and eight) will affect the income limits in each case.
4. Have you been convicted or evicted?
You will be disqualified from receiving a Section 8 voucher if you answer yes to either of the following questions:
- Have you been convicted of using a residence in an assisted housing project to manufacture methamphetamine?
- Within the past three years, have you been evicted due to drug-related criminal activity?
If you meet the four criteria above, you’re one step closer to eligibility for Section 8 housing. Remember, however, that your local PHA may also have their own requirements that you’ll need to pass too.