If you need rental assistance, you can apply for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program. However, you may better know the program as Section 8 housing, since it is the eighth section of the Housing Act of 1937. Section 8 vouchers pay a portion of your rent responsibility, so you pay less.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also offers Public Housing for less than local market prices. Although both are rent relief options, the agency assigns your Public Housing rental, but you can choose your rental unit with Section 8 vouchers.
Section 8 housing vouchers allow you to select a rental unit that meets the agency’s definition of affordable, safe, and sanitary. You can choose from apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes available on the private housing market. The owner of the rental property must agree to accept housing vouchers.
Here’s how the Section 8 housing voucher program works:
- You submit an application to your local PHA for approval.
- The PHA may place you on a waiting list if the housing assistance demand is more than the available funds and resources. You may be on a waiting list for days, months, or years.
- Once selected, you must find a qualified rental unit and sign a lease after inspection.
- You pay your portion of the rent on time every month, and the PHA will pay your landlord for the voucher amount.
The government owns Public Housing buildings, and the agency selects your rental unit from what they have available. Public Housing rental units ranging from apartments to single- and multi-family houses.
You can apply for either program through your local public housing agency (PHA). Both Section 8 and Public Housing are designed for low-income households, and the programs have strict requirements that consider the following factors:
· Your household’s income. HUD limits low-income to 80% and very low-income to 50% of the area median income (AMI) with adjustments for family size. Local agencies provide at least 75% of rental assistance to households earning 30% or less than the AMI.
· Whether you are applying as an individual or a family. Families may receive priority over single individuals.
· Whether you or someone in your household qualifies as elderly or disabled. Agencies often prioritize at-risk populations, like elderly, disabled, and other at-risk members.
· Your citizenship or eligible immigration status.
· Your experience as a tenant. The agency may reject your application if you have a negative history, such as missed payments or causing property damage.
HUD also provides rent relief through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). Property developers receive a tax credit for creating low- and moderate-income housing that meets the income and rent tests. For instance, rent must be less than 50 to 60% of the AMI.
Developers and owners can claim the LIHTC for more than 10 years, as long as the property qualifies. Properties must pass one of the following income tests:
· Tenants with an income of no more than 50% of AMI adjusted for their family size occupy at least 20% of the units.
· Tenants with an income of no more than 60% of AMI occupy at least 40% of the units.
· Tenants with an average income of no more than 60% of AMI occupy at least 40% of the units, AND there are no tenants with income greater than 80% of AMI.
The HUD website has online tools that let you search for local PHAs and subsidized housing.
The government has programs to help renters and homeowners pay for housing expenses. Find out how you may be able to get money for home repairs and renovations next!