Section 8 Rentals is a housing assistance program that can help individuals facing financial hardships pay their rent and reside in safe housing.
For more information on these vouchers from the perspective of both tenants and landlords, keep reading.
What Is the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program?
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8 housing, is a government program that assists families in need find safe and affordable housing.
The program is for low-income families.
This program prevents children and people struggling from having to live in unsafe or unsanitary homes.
The housing program will place people in government-subsidized housing, but it is not limited to these locations.
They may also live in single-family homes, townhouses, or apartments.
The vouchers come from the Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) based on need and income levels.
These vouchers are only valid at properties where the landlord agrees to take this subsidiary.
How Section 8 Vouchers Work
The family using the housing voucher is fully responsible for finding safe and sanitary housing for themselves.
They also must find a property where the landlord agrees to rent to someone using a housing voucher.
Landlords have the right to refuse to partake in these government subsidiaries.
Once the families find appropriate housing, they can use the voucher so that their landlord will receive a payment from the government to subsidize the rent.
Then, the family is responsible for the price difference and must pay the remaining balance on their rent.
How Does Rental Assistance Work?
Rental assistance is what it sounds like; the government assists renters and landlords in paying for housing.
The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) gives money to eligible individuals.
The housing vouchers that coincide with eh section 8 program are just one way that you can receive rent assistance from the government.
More and more people have taken advantage of these subsidiaries as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted consistent income.
Section 8 Rental Specifics
To understand more about the section 8 program, you’ll want to know some of the specifics.
Allowances for Tenant-Paid Utilities
Allowances for tenant-paid utilities are money factored into the rent allowance given by the government.
If the allowance is income-based concerning the cost of rent, utilities will factor into this.
So if the government subsidiary is 30% and the rent is $1,000, but the utilities are $100 a month, the allowance will be $330 rather than $300.
So tenants will receive and pay their full utility bill but get more money off their rent in return.
Allowances for the Systematic Code Enforcement Program (SCEP)
The Systematic Code Enforcement Program is not an allowance but a program that ensures the housing the government is subsidizing is safe and sanitary for the parties benefitting from the housing vouchers.
Inspections are performed under this program, which varies state by state, and in some cases, city by city.
If the property has safety or health issues, the landlord is responsible for making the appropriate changes.
Depending on the situation, the landlord may receive a partial allowance for the cost of fixing these problems so they can continue with the housing voucher and section 8 program.
Allowances for the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO)
The Rent Stabilization ordinance, which is very prominent in specific counties, such as Los Angeles, is determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Based on incomes in America and the CPI, landlords are restricted from raising rents by a certain amount annually.
Most people have experienced the annual rent increase imposed by landlords, but this ordinance prevents them from upping the rent by insane amounts.
The ordinance also restricts them to one rent increase per year.
This way, landlords cannot increase the rent every six months or even less, putting their tenants’ in a difficult situation.
Therefore, even tenants that rent month-to-month have some sense of stability in their monthly bills.
Using these housing programs requires no upfront registration fees from the vouchees or the landlords in the program.
However, these vouchers will often not cover the cost of rental applications or other costs associated with locating section 8 housing.
Tenants are responsible for paying these in most cases unless there are special circumstances.
Who Qualifies for Section 8 Vouchers?
The largest factor in determining eligibility for section 8 vouchers is income.
Three things must be factual for you to qualify for housing vouchers.
The first is the big one, the income-based question.
You make between 30 and 50% less money than your area’s median income.
The second requirement is that one or more members of your household meet one of these conditions:
- On unemployment or would qualify for unemployment
- Lost income, either long term or short term
- Owed large expenses from an employer, private entity, or the government
- Experienced significant financial hardships such as emergency medical expenses
And lastly, at least one of the members of your household is experiencing house instability, meaning they are at risk of becoming homeless soon and cannot find stable housing that is safe and sanitary.
Are There Any Disqualifying Criteria?
Being denied section 8 housing assistance can be caused by several factors, such as a criminal history.
These disqualifications can vary from state to state and county to county, so you should look into your specific region’s requirements for assisted housing.
Unfortunately, one of the less pleasing disqualifications is that if you are a non-disabled, non-veteran student under 24 years old at a place of higher education, do not have a dependent child, and are not otherwise eligible for a voucher.
The vouchers are for people in difficult and permanent positions, not struggling college students.
However, there are many understandable reasons one is denied housing assistance:
- The use, selling, or presence of illegal substances such as narcotics
- The illegal ownership of firearms
- Past violations of leases, excluding the nonpayment of rent during financial hardship
- Precarious or nonexistent immigration status
- False information on any applications or credentials, whether purposeful or not
- Past issues with neighbors, other residents, or property owners
- If you do not intend to live full-time in the assisted housing
- If you have been evicted from assisted housing before
- Has exhibited neglect or abuse of the property, creating unsafe or unsanitary conditions and causing damage
- Criminal history, whether they served jail time or not
- If they are a registered sex offender
Not all of these are immediate rejections for the voucher.
Some are based on the individual’s history, such as repetitive offense, known associates, or evidence of rehabilitation can have an impact on the final decision from the Public Housing Authority (PHA).
Finding Affordable Rentals
Once you have the voucher, now, you need to find affordable and safe housing.
Where Is the Best Section 8 Housing?
The following cities are the best locations for section 8 housing in both availability and quality of rentals:
- Charleston, West Virginia
- Texarkana, Texas
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Monroe, Louisiana
- Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Spartanburg, South Carolina
- Albany, Oregon
- Hoboken, New Jersey
- West Palm Beach, Florida
- Pensacola, Florida
What Is the Best Rental Website?
You can use any rental finding tool such as apartments.com or Zillow to find potential section 8 housing, but you’ll need to check with the owners to see if they’ll accept vouchers.
But if you want to only view section 8 eligible properties, visit one of these handy websites:
These websites are either specific for finding section 8 rentals or have filters to narrow your search to voucher-eligible properties.
How to Apply for Section 8 Voucher
The process to apply for a housing voucher is straightforward.
However, it requires a lot of paperwork and can take years to get approved and receive the voucher.
Submit an Application
This step is the most intensive.
You must submit your application and provide relevant and true information.
You will need to submit the following documents along with the application:
- Social Security Verification Letter and Proof of Benefits
- Proof of income (pay stubs, W2, tax returns)
- Bank statements
- Documentation of public assistance benefits
- Information on any assets you own
Join the Waiting List
Next, you’ll join the waiting list for the housing vouchers.
Even if you are approved, there may not be vouchers and funds available to help you just yet.
You could spend days or years on this waitlist, and it is often prioritized based on need.
Continue Checking Section 8 Status
Unfortunately, the housing authorities won’t notify you if you have been approved and can receive the coucher now.
You need to consistently check in with your PHA office or their website to stay up-to-date on your status.
How Long Does It Take To Get Section 8 Voucher After Interview
Usually, after the interview, they issue a voucher within 24 to 72 hours.
However, you could wait years after applying to get an interview scheduled.
Finding Section 8 Tenants
There are three ways to acquire section 8 tenants.
The first is to let them come to you and then say yes when they do!
The second is to advertise your rental property specifically to section 8 voucher holders.
And the last and likely best way to get section 8 tenants is to reach out to your local housing authority and inform them you would like to partake in assisted housing programs.
Who Are Section 8 Tenants?
Section 8 tenants are anyone that falls under the criteria explained above.
This can be young individuals, senior citizens, families with children, or couples.
How Do I Rent to Section 8 Tenants?
First, your property must be approved by the housing authority.
After that, all you need to do is provide or collect the following forms and supply them to the PHA:
- Landlord Information form
- Housing Assistance Payments Contract form
- A copy of the lease
- The HUD Lease Addendum Request for Tenancy Approval form
- W-9 with renter’s information
Can Any Building Be Rented to Section 8 Tenants?
As long as your property is up to code and clean without any drug users or illegal activities on the premises, you’ll be able to rent to section 8 tenants.
Section 8 rentals and how they work for owners in 2023 are beneficial to landlords and people struggling to pay rent.
These programs are some of the most successful government assistance programs and can be lifesaving for people struggling to make enough money to afford a home.