Eligibility for Section 8


Section 8 eligibility is determined by three independent factors. Potential applicants asking, “What are the requirements for Section 8?” need to consider each of these eligibility factors to determine whether they will qualify for services under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher Program. Section 8 housing assistance is intended to help seniors, individuals with disabilities and very-low income families. Public housing agencies (PHAs) locally administer the federally funded Section 8 program and must adhere to the national guidelines for housing assistance. The program promotes recipient self-determination and autonomy by allowing participants to select their housing from privately owned single-family homes, townhouses or apartments. Seniors and others inquiring, “What do I need to apply for Section 8?” should consider their housing status, income level and resources. Funding for Section 8 is oftentimes insufficient 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.

What are the qualifications for low income housing?

Senior applicants wondering, “Do I qualify for Section 8 housing?” should begin by considering the age factor. Petitioners may meet Section 8 eligibility for “elderly” as either an individual application or as the head of a qualifying “elderly household.” Elderly households may include eligible elderly individuals, their partners and qualifying live-in aides. HUD does not discriminate based on individuals’ sexual orientation (actual or perceived), gender identity or marital status. Eligible family units are not, therefore, defined by any of these characteristics. To be eligible for Section 8 assistance or for funding under other HUD programs as a senior, applicants must meet or be older than HUD’s established minimum legal age for “elderly” applicants.

Younger seniors curious about the qualifications for low income housing besides age may still be eligible for housing assistance. Applicants may 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 established by accepted medical diagnostic techniques. Disabilities must have persisted or be expected to persist for a minimum amount of time to qualify under HUD regulations. Special rules may apply to the classification of blindness as a disability. Alcoholism and substance abuse issues are not considered disabling under HUD guidelines and cannot be used as the basis of disability eligibility. Find out more about qualifying for housing assistance by reviewing the information in our comprehensive guide for seniors.

What is Section 8 housing’s income eligibility? Section 8 eligibility for earnings is governed by a sliding scale. The scale takes into account the size of an applicant’s family unit and the household’s adjusted annual gross income. Local public housing agencies complete income assesses on behalf of HUD and in accordance with federally determined standards. When petitioning households apply for Section 8, they must furnish information about their earnings. To verify an applicant’s Section 8 eligibility, the PHA compares the adjusted household income to the median income in the county, metropolitan area or other defined territory where the applicant lives or wishes to live. Generally, income eligibility limits are at approximately less than a percentage of the median earnings in an applicant’s area. A portion of annual HUD funds for Section 8 vouchers are set aside for applicants and recipients with annual adjusted household incomes that are less than a third of their area’s median income. Median income limit requirements for Section 8 are determined by HUD and updated annually.

Other Eligibility Factors for Section 8 Assistance

To qualify for Section 8 housing assistance, applicants must be eligible under HUD standards by age, disability status or income. However, applicants who are not U.S. citizens are not considered Section 8 eligible, regardless of any other eligibility factors. Recipients must also select suitable housing acceptable to PHA inspection.

Preferential treatment may be offered to certain recipients or categories of recipients qualifying for low income housing when long waiting lists preclude local PHAs from offering funding and support to a large portion of pre-qualified applicants. Each PHA may set its standards and criteria for preferential treatment in response to the needs and population of its particular market. Generally, such treatment is extended to the households that qualify for Section 8 housing that have been deemed to be most at-risk or the most heavily burdened, such as those who are homeless, dedicating more than half of their household income to rent or living in extremely unsafe conditions.

After it is granted, Section 8 eligibility may be lost or revoked if recipients fail to abide by program standards and policies. Seniors eligible for Section 8 must negotiate and sign a lease for an appropriate, HUD-approved rental and maintain the housing unit in good condition while consistently pay their portion of the monthly rent on time. Recipients must pay at least the minimum required percentage of their income toward rent and utilities but may not pay more than the maximum allowed percentage per month. Failure to comply with these terms may result in loss of benefits. Benefits may also be withdrawn if recipients experience changes to their family size or income level that affect their Section 8 eligibility, if they break the terms of their leases or if they move to non-compliant housing units.

What Kinds of Housing Assistance Services Are Available to Seniors?

Seniors can receive various kinds of housing assistance services, such as housing vouchers (Section 8) and housing loans. However, seniors must meet certain income requirements to qualify for these programs. Learn more about housing benefits and whether you are eligible to receive them by downloading our guide today.

How Can Seniors Receive Housing Assistance Services?

Seniors must typically meet age, income and residency requirements in order to qualify for housing assistance services. The eligibility criteria varies according to each particular state and program. To find out more about how seniors can receive housing assistance, download our guide now.