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Section 811: What It Is, How It Works, Benefits, Requirements

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Many people with disabilities living below the poverty line in the United States encounter housing challenges.

Oftentimes, people with disabilities need rental assistance to find a home that fits their disability needs.

Housing assistance shouldn’t be hard to find!

That is why there is Section 811 PRA.


What is the Section 811 PRAC Program?

Section 811 PRA is a project-based rental assistance program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

It provides rental properties with the funds needed to subsidize their costs for people with disabilities.

Within this program, the Project Rental Assistance contract (PRA) is available to help people with a low income find a safe, comfortable place to live.

It also helps those properties provide the accommodations they need to live an independent life.

Section 811 refers to the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990.

It helps low-income families and individuals afford to live in supportive housing or apartments that they might not otherwise.

Section 811 PRA focuses on people with various forms of physical disabilities or mental impairments.

Many of them would not be able to avoid homelessness or worse without it.

Nonprofit developers that build multifamily affordable housing projects for people with disabilities can use Section 811 PRA to acquire capital advances.

These can be apartment buildings, condominium units, or group homes.

They can also get operating subsidies that allow those people to find a place to live and only pay about 25% of the actual cost.

State housing agencies can also use it to get project rental assistance for people with disabilities.

That means that affordable housing complexes, such as apartment buildings, that get funded through different state housing agencies also benefit.

Section 811 PRA is not the same as other rental assistance programs and voluntary services, like section 8 housing.

It gives federal subsidies to the private owners of the unit properties.

Section 8 is tenant-based, in that the funding availability goes with the individual in the form of vouchers.

They use them to find a unit on their own from landlords that will take them.

Benefits of Section 811

Section 811 PRA is rental assistance that enables those who want to serve the disabled community.

Funds are given to acquire property, build new rental housing, or renovate old units.

Then there is money available toward the operational costs of the property.

Many people with disabilities have restricted income, and doctor visits and medication costs can quickly eat away at their paychecks.

A huge financial burden is lifted through rental assistance while giving people with disabilities permanent supportive housing that meets their needs.

Eligibility for This Program

Certain eligibility requirements must be met for people with disabilities to receive the rental assistance provided by Section 811 PRA.

Eligible Applicants

  • Properties that apply for Section 811 supportive housing can be an existing structure or one undergoing renovation. New construction is also eligible.
  • The property must be owned by a nonprofit, public, or private entity.
  • The property owner must have financing or an investment from a federal or state program.
  • Properties can not have any restrictions in place for people with disabilities.
  • Property is not eligible if restricted to people over the age of 62.

Lying on an application is never a good idea.

Not only could you lose your spot in the program, but you very well could find yourself facing legal trouble.

Tell the truth on your application and don’t exaggerate your need.

And if you aren’t sure of what to write in certain sections, contact HUD for assistance.

People with a criminal record or convicted of felonies may apply, but approval is unlikely.

If the crime was violent or drug-related, it could be much more difficult.

If a household member was recently convicted of a crime, the family will is not eligible.

Anyone evicted from federal housing assistance due to criminal activity in the past three years is not eligible for 811 PRA.

However, the person is eligible for 811 PRA if they are in a supervised drug rehabilitation program.  

Eligible Residents

  • The entire unit must earn less than 50% of the area median income in the area where they are applying. Some of the properties built after 2012 only require the tenant to earn less than 30% of that median income.
  • At least one adult over the age of 18 must be living with a disability. They can be physical or developmental disabilities or chronic mental illnesses.
  • Tenants do not have to be married or have children to apply.
  • There are no citizenship requirements.
  • Some Section 811 PRA properties also have requirements for their tenants to be part of a local housing assistance program.

Eligible Types of Housing

In addition, there are requirements for a property to be deemed eligible to receive this rental assistance funding.

  • The property must have at least five units but no more than sixteen units.
  • No more than 25% of the units can be subsidized for people with disabilities.
  • The property can not be manufactured housing
  • There can not be a rental assistance contract already in place.

How to Apply for Section 811?

Before you apply for Section 811 housing, you should determine if there is any available in your area.

If not, check all of the surrounding areas and decide if you are willing to relocate.

Once you have found a place that uses 811 PRA, set up a time to see the property and fill out an application.

Check the requirement statute so you will know if everything is met.

Unlike a standard application process, HUD policy allows you to apply without an application fee.

If you need accommodations to complete an application, ask the property owner for assistance.

For instance, if you don’t have internet access, the property owner may allow you to fill one out in person.

The application will ask for your personal information such as your gender, date of birth, and social security number.

This helps perform a background check to determine your history as a renter and also if you have any convictions.

You must also provide your employment and income information.

They can call your previous landlords for a referral.

Most rental properties do not look favorably on people who have constantly been late paying their rent or if they have caused problems for other owners.

A poor rental history could get you rejected as a tenant.

Keep that in mind if you’re getting ready to move out and not honor the terms of your lease.

The section 811 program will require you to show your disability or benefits statement, so be sure that you bring all of the required paperwork with you.

Once you finish filling out the application, submit it according to their rules.

They can reject the application for any reason and not even look at it.

If your application is accepted and you are approved, your name will go on a waiting list.

Project-based rental assistance waiting lists can be lengthy, but the property manager may be able to tell you how long of a wait you have ahead of you.

Alternatively, you can apply to more than one residence.

This can increase your chances of finding housing quickly, as you might be accepted sooner at another location.

Ensure that you can be easily contacted by the property owner.

If your name is next on a waiting list but the property owner can’t reach you, they might move to the next name on the list.

It’s even a good idea to contact with the housing office occasionally by calling to check in on the waiting list status.

Housing Grants for People with Disabilities

If you aren’t eligible for the Section 811 program, you have other housing assistance and human services available to you, such as Medicaid agencies and other federal funding.

If you or a member of your household has a disability, you can still apply for Section 8 housing assistance.

With Section 8, vouchers are given instead of grants or subsidies to pay rent.

However, not every housing agency accepts Section 8 vouchers, so check with the property owner.

There is also a HUD Section 8 homeownership vouch program that assists people with disabilities to purchase their own homes.

They would be able to use their vouchers to pay their mortgage just as they would use them to pay their rent.

Additionally, there are other grant programs and supportive services that can help low-income persons with disabilities find a home, such as:

  • Armed Forces Retirement Home
  • Medical Foster Homes
  • Fannie Mae HomeReady Mortgage
  • USDA Home Loans for disabled persons

Although many people with a disability have a low income, this shouldn’t keep them from having fair housing that meets their needs.

The Section 811 PRA program is just one of many that provide project rental assistance and human service so people with disabilities can have a place to call home.

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