While home prices have continued to rise across the entire country, so have rental costs. This puts a massive burden on American families, making it challenging just to afford basic shelter. Thankfully, there are ways that you can find more affordable rental options, or even find money to pay rent on your current apartment or other rental home.
•Note that most rent-related programs are geared to pay landlords, not tenants. The result is to make housing more affordable, but it still leaves you responsible for finding a place to live.
Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8)
Section 8 is a unique solution that helps many of America’s lowest-income families find affordable rental options.
•What Does It Do?
The housing choice voucher program is made available through state, county, and municipality programs. They are all designed to help low-income families find affordable housing that is also safe and sanitary. Note that while this program is most synonymous with apartments, it can also apply to townhomes, single-family homes, and other options.
•Who Is Eligible?
The eligibility requirements for the Section 8 program are easily met but inflexible. You must be at least 18 years of age and able to provide proof of US citizenship or legal immigration status. You must meet income limits which vary based on your geographic area –in general, you cannot earn more than 50% more than the median income for your area.
You will also need to meet family size requirements. These also vary from area to area. Note that there is a sub-program called the Non-Elderly Disabled Vouchers Program that is designed specifically for disabled applicants who need Section 8 affordable housing but are not yet seniors.
•Are There Limitations on Fund Usage
Section 8 is only applicable to rent payments and the program is designed specifically to help you and your family find affordable housing.
•How Much Is Available in Grants?
You do not receive funds with this program. Instead, you’re given a voucher and then allowed to choose housing within a qualifying property. Once the process is finished, you will pay the difference between the amount of rent paid through Section 8 and what the landlord is actually charging.
•What Are the Limitations and Terms?
There are some specific limitations that you should understand when it comes to Section 8. The most important of those is that you will have to be put on a wait list in almost all instances. In areas with high population densities and high rates of poverty, the wait time may be years long. Once your application has been submitted, you’ll need to confirm that you’ve be put on that waiting list. Processing time for your application can be several months. Note that Section 8 is administered by your local public housing agency (PHA) and it is the PHA’s decision on how many project-based vouchers to offer, versus tenant-based vouchers. Project-based vouchers are attached to a specific housing project in the area, rather than to a tenant.
•How Do You Apply for This Grant?
Section 8 is administered by your local housing authority, so you will need to contact them to begin the application process. If you are unsure of which PHA you need to contact, HUD offers an online tool to locate contact information.
You can also get a free guide on Section 8 Application Requirements