News Light HD

Stay informed, stay ahead with

Homes 101

What to Know About the Four Section 8 Qualifications

Did you know that there is an actual definition of affordable housing? That’s right. It’s not just a term that people say when they complain about rising housing costs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines affordable housing as spending a maximum of 30% of your gross income per month on housing expenses. It might be hard to reach affordable housing based on this definition by the HUD.

Now, with the way the economy is right now, you might need some help to reach affordable housing. The catch when it comes to finding affordable housing is that the actual properties that cost 30% of your gross monthly income are not in great condition. However, what if we told you there was a chance to get an affordable home that is in great shape? This is where the Section 8 Program comes in handy and we’re here to tell you all about it.

What is the Section 8 Program?

The Section 8 program has been operational since 1974. It helps lower rates of homelessness and support individuals with other struggles. How does the program do that? It offers housing aid to low-income families through housing vouchers that are used for housing costs. The HUD is responsible for funding Section 8. It is the local responsibility of public housing agencies (PHAs). Local PHAs are in charge of paying the landlord on behalf of the recipients with these vouchers. The best part is that the recipient gets to pick the housing unit they want.

To ensure that the housing unit is up to its standards, local PHAs conduct a housing inspection to make sure it meets housing quality standards (HQS). If you have the chance to reach affordable housing, then you will be able to pay for other basic needs and other bills.

Qualifying for Section 8 Benefits

There is a legal obligation that at least 75% of Section 8 recipients need to make a maximum of 30% of the area’s median income. That’s why one of the main factors to qualify is your total income level. Other than income level, the program focuses on family size, citizenship status, and eviction background. These factors determine your eligibility status. Regarding the income requirement, it differs based on the area you live. Thankfully, there are exceptions to each requirement, even though you need to meet all of the factors to qualify. It is up to you to make sure that you meet at least the basic criteria for eligibility.

Furthermore, local PHAs are in charge of choosing who gets Section 8 benefits and its priority differs. Those who are homeless, live in uninhabitable housing, spend more than 50% of their income on housing costs, or were displaced against their will are considered a priority to get benefits. This is important to consider because the Section 8 program puts recipients on a waiting list. Additionally, if there are any changes to your current situation, then you should report to the program. Changes in your current situation could influence the amount you get and whether you qualify or not.

Total Level of Income

As we mentioned above, one of the factors that the program focuses on is income. Typically, those who apply must have an annual income limit that does not pass a certain number. You should contact your local PHA for more information. Furthermore, your local PHA might request to look through your current bank statement and they might ask for different financial documents. So, what kind of sources of income do you need to put on your application? That would be any kind of income source that goes into your life, like employment and overtime wages, military pay, federal benefits, and/or social security payments.

The Family Size

Meeting the eligibility requirement, in terms of family size, is not as hard as you might think. The HUD has a definition for family, but local PHAs can define it too! You won’t need to meet all of the family size requirements, only one can be enough that might allow you to qualify. For more information, you should contact your local PHA to learn about your family’s eligibility status. Some of the main requirements would be having a minimum of one person that is elderly and/or with a disability. In this case, an elderly citizen would be an individual older than the age of 62. Another requirement the program considers is whether your family has kids or not and/or whether your family faced involuntary displacement.

Status of Citizenship

Some documents that you might need to present to your local PHAs would be United States passports, registration cards, and/or Social Security cards. Now, what happens if some of your family members qualify for the citizenship requirement and some don’t? Does that mean that you cannot get Section 8 benefits? Well, it doesn’t actually. The only true way to know if you can get benefits is to apply. However, Section 8 could still give you benefits based on the eligible family members in your household. Additionally, Section 8 focuses on helping the people who need the most assistance, so they need to be thorough in who they choose to give benefits. You and your family will need to state your citizenship status on a certification form.

Background of Previous Evictions

This factor is important to local PHAs because they want to know what kind of tenant you used to be. There are people who are automatically ineligible for Section 8 benefits. That would be when they have a record of a previous eviction because of criminal activity. They can also be disqualified if in government housing they conducted methamphetamine production. If you want to qualify for Section 8 benefits, then you need to have a good rental background.

Applying For Section 8 Benefits

If you want to apply, there are several ways to do so. You can apply on the local PHA’s website, which you can find on the HUD website. The local PHA’s website will give you information that directly applies to your county or state and let you fill out the application. In this case, you cannot directly apply to the federal government, but with the local PHA office.

Bottom Line

The Section 8 program can help you reach affordable housing and allow you to focus on other things in your life. With Section 8 benefits, you can be able to pay for other things in your life, since you won’t need to spend as much anymore on housing. Additionally, Section 8 can help with rental expenses and even help you buy a house! You can find out whether or not you qualify through four main requirements. However, the specific eligibility requirements to know that you qualify are from your local PHA. Your local PHA is responsible for managing the Section 8 program and where you need to submit your application. They are also your best bet to get up-to-date information on the program. With Section 8, you might be able to meet the HUD’s definition of affordable housing after all!