The Housing Choice Voucher Program or the Section 8 housing program is a federal assistance intended mainly for very-low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled. Under the program, a family receives a voucher from the government for 70% of the monthly rent.
Your family will qualify for the Section 8 federal assistance if:
- You are a U.S. citizen - Only U.S. citizens and certain permanent residents are eligible for Section 8 housing. People visiting the U.S. on a visa, whether work or travel, cannot receive most federal benefits, including low-income housing vouchers, which are available only to permanent residents, seekers of asylum, or those granted special permission by the Attorney General's office. Families that include non-U.S. citizens or ineligible residents are, in most cases, forbidden from providing Section 8-subsidized housing to those family members.
- You belong to a low-income family – the median income levels, established by HUD, vary by location. The more working-age family members in a household, the higher the income limit is. Your household income must not be more than 50 percent of the median income for the area where your family lives.
- Nobody from your family owns a property – nobody owns any piece of real estate, residential nor commercial.
- You have a stable and regular employment - except for disabled families, you have a minimum income requirement.
- Attended counseling - Your family has completed the required housing counseling program.
- PHA requirement - You have complied with the requirements of other Public Housing Agency.
- Age requirement - The primary applicant for the vouchers must be at least 18 years of age. Parents above the age of 18, with children, may also apply.
- You must be a family - A family is defined as a group of people, with or without children, related by blood or affinity, and live together in a stable familial relationship. This relationship can be either legally recognized or unofficial, but it must meet the approval of the agency administering the voucher.
- You are of good moral character – All applicants and family members will undergo a background check. Most persons convicted of crimes are ineligible for Section 8 housing. All applicants will undergo a background check. Nobody is using illegal drugs; and nobody has ever been evicted from federally subsidized housing for any crime or violation.
- Identification – You have presented proof of identification. Usually this takes the form of a Social Security card. Agencies administering the vouchers may also accept another valid form of identification, such as a birth certificate or a passport that was issued upon the provision of a Social Security. Lesser forms of identification, such as a driver's license, are not valid. Those who have lost their Social Security card or were never issued one can apply for a new one.
- Emergency Qualifications – If you are facing any exigent circumstances, you are also eligible for "emergency" Section 8 housing. In New York City, for instance, certain victims of domestic abuse and certain witnesses to crimes are eligible for emergency housing, regardless of their income level.