Do you dream of owning your own home? Through the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, you could be well on your way to becoming a homeowner in no time. The rent-to-buy program is available through many public housing authorities (PHAs) that oversee the Section 8 program locally.
Section 8 helps millions of Americans become first-time homeowners by helping them pay a portion of their rent or mortgage costs. The program was created with low-income, elderly and/or disabled individuals in mind, who may experience additional obstacles in their journey toward becoming a homeowner.
Like other housing assistance programs and federal aid, the Section 8 program is only available to those who meet strict program qualifications. To qualify for housing vouchers, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be first-time homeowners OR have at least one disabled family member.
- Have full-time employment (at least 30 hours per week).
- Meet income limits.
- Be an American citizen or eligible immigrant.
- Have not been evicted for drug-related criminal activity within three years.
To participate in a rent-to-own program through Section 8, you cannot have owned a home within the last three years. This also applies to all members of your household. If you are not a first time homeowner, you may still qualify as long as one or more members of your household is disabled.
Your total household income cannot exceed 50% of the area median income for the location of the home. It cannot be less than the federal minimum hourly wage, multiplied by 2,000 hours.
While Section 8 rentals are prioritized for certain populations, like those with extremely low incomes, the homeownership program may operate differently.
Preference is also typically given to elderly applicants, disabled individuals and those who live locally. If you apply to a rent-to-own program with a PHA that is not your local agency, you may be second to those who apply with their local PHA.
Eligible immigrants may also receive housing assistance through Section 8. The following groups of people have eligible immigration status:
- Lawful permanent residents
- Registry immigrants
- Conditional entrants
- Residents of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau or Guam
- Victims of trafficking
If you qualify for housing assistance through the Section 8 homeownership program, you must make a down payment of at least 3%. At least 1% of the payment must come directly from the applicant’s own money, such as a savings account. The rest of the money may come from other sources or contributions.