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Learn About Requirements for Section 8

Section 8 eligibility is determined by three independent factors. Anyone wondering about Section 8 requirements should consider each of these eligibility factors to see if they may qualify for services under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher Program. Section 8 housing assistance was created to help seniors, people with disabilities and very-low-income families. Public housing agencies (PHAs) administer the federally funded Section 8 program at a local level and follow the national guidelines for housing assistance. Applicants can select the type of housing they want to apply for from privately owned single-family homes, townhouses or apartments. To apply for Section 8 you will need to take into account your housing status, income level and resources. Funding for Section 8 is often not enough to provide services to all qualifying applicants. Preference and priority are almost always given to the neediest applicants in the least safe, least hygienic and most cost-burdened households.

Learn About the Qualifications for Low-Income Housing

To see if you may qualify for Section 8 housing, you should start by considering the age factor. One factor that may qualify you for Section 8 is whether you are “elderly” as either a personal application or as the head of a qualifying “elderly household.” Elderly households can include eligible elderly people, their partners and qualifying live-in aides. HUD does not discriminate based on individuals’ sexual orientation (actual or perceived), gender identity or marital status, so eligible family units are not defined by any of these characteristics. To be eligible for Section 8 assistance or to get funding from another HUD program as a senior, you must meet or be older than HUD’s established minimum legal age for “elderly” applicants.

Younger seniors that want to learn about the qualifications for low-income housing besides age can still qualify for housing assistance. They might meet Section 8 eligibility for disability by having a terminal or chronic condition that impairs or prevents them from gainful employment. A disability may be physical or mental, but it must be diagnosed by a physician. Disabilities need to exist or continue to exist for a minimum amount of time to qualify under HUD regulations. There are special rules when it comes to considering blindness as a disability. Alcoholism and substance abuse issues are not considered a disability under HUD rules and cannot be used to apply on the basis of disability. Learn more about how to qualify for housing assistance by downloading our guide for seniors.

Section 8 eligibility is based on earnings, and the requirements are set by a sliding scale.The scale takes into account the size of your family unit and the adjusted annual gross income of the household. Local public housing agencies complete income assessments on behalf of HUD by following federally determined standards. When you apply for Section 8, you need to share information about your household’s earnings. To verify your Section 8 eligibility, the PHA compares your household’s adjusted income to the median income in the county, metropolitan area or territory where you live or want to live. Generally, income eligibility limits are less than a percentage of the median earnings in the area you live. A portion of annual HUD funds for Section 8 vouchers are set aside for applicants and beneficiaries that have less household incomes than a third of their area’s median income. Median income limit requirements for Section 8 are set by HUD and updated every year.

Learn About Other Factors for Section 8 Assistance

To qualify for Section 8 housing assistance, you must be eligible under HUD standards by age, disability status or income. However, if you are not a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, you will not be considered eligible, regardless of any other factors. You also need to choose suitable housing that passes the PHA inspection.

If waiting lists are long and do not allow local PHAs to offer funds to all of the people that qualify for assistance, then preferential treatment can be offered to people or categories of people qualifying for low-income housing. Each PHA can set its standards and criteria for preferential treatment according to the needs and population of its particular market. Generally, this treatment is offered to households that qualify for Section 8 housing and are considered to be most at-risk or the most heavily burdened, such as a homeless household, one that spends more than half of its household income on rent, or one who lives in extremely unsafe conditions.

After it is granted, Section 8 eligibility can still be lost or revoked if you do not follow program standards and policies. Seniors eligible for Section 8 have to negotiate and sign a lease for an appropriate, HUD-approved rental, keep their housing unit in good condition and pay their portion of the monthly rent on time without exceptions. They have to pay at least the minimum required percentage of their income toward rent and utilities but cannot pay more than the maximum percent per month. Anyone who does not comply with these terms can lose their benefits. You can also lose your benefits if your family size or the household’s income level changes affecting your eligibility, if you break the terms of your leases or if you move to non-compliant housing.