Section 8 isn’t just a government rental assistance program – it’s more than that! In 2016, the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program introduced a new branch of the program, called the HCV Homeownership Program. This traditional renters relief program now offers a way for low-income renters to begin their journey toward homeownership in an affordable way.
Like the standard Section 8 rental assistance program, you must apply and be approved for the Homeownership Program through your local public housing authority (PHA). Each PHA may have slightly different criteria for the program.
However, most require you to meet the following:
- Currently participating in the HCV program.
- Be a first-time homeowner.
- Have a full-time job (working at least 30 hours per week).
- Meet the Section 8 rental assistance income requirements for your area.
- Partake in homeownership counseling provided through your local PHA.
Note: the employment requirement does not apply to applicants who are elderly or disabled.
Some PHAs may only help those who need help paying rent, not those who are interested in becoming a homeowner. This is because the HCV Homeownership Program is not available in all areas of the country. Only certain PHAs offer this branch of the HCV program.
If your local PHA does offer the Homeownership Program, you may apply as long as you meet the program requirements. Just like the rental assistance program, you can receive vouchers to use to pay a portion of your living expenses.
However, instead of using this government rental assistance to pay your rent, you can use the voucher to pay a portion of your mortgage and other homeownership costs.
Your local PHA has the authority to either approve or deny the home you choose. Depending on where you live, you may be required to choose a home of a certain size, a certain price or in a certain neighborhood.
If you qualify for the Homeownership Program, you will only receive vouchers for a certain period of time. This depends on the length of your mortgage term.
You can receive assistance for the following periods of time:
- 15 years, if your mortgage is expected to last for more than 20 years.
- 10 years, if your mortgage is expected to last for less than 20 years.
The homeownership counseling requirement is mandatory for all participants. In fact, nearly all HUD housing and rental assistance programs have this requirement for participants. You can partake in these sessions with a HUD Certified Housing Counselor.