There is no shame in struggling with your monthly finances. You are not alone, many people sadly suffer from the same issue. Everyone dreams about leading a successful and luxurious lifestyle, where they own a house on the beach or a fancy car. In the real world, these fantasies are sometimes farfetched. Thankfully, there is no need to lose hope.There may be more options than you think that could help. One source of support is through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD has the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program (formally known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program). If you don’t know much about the program, then you are definitely in the right place since there is a lot to learn. The Section 8 Housing Assistance Program was created to provide help and benefits for low-income families and individuals.
Section 8 Housing Assistance Explained
The Section 8 Housing Assistance Program, also commonly known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is an incredible opportunity for those who are searching for help. Like we said earlier, it falls under the authority of HUD. How does the program work? It provides housing choice vouchers to applicants who are deemed eligible for assistance. There are four main selection factors that help representatives make a decision about the eligibility of the applicant. These factors include income level, family status, eviction history, and citizenship status. As the program is managed by your local Public Housing Agency (PHA), their representatives will be in direct contact with applicants. This means that your local PHA is your go-to place to apply or find out more information about the program.
So, this is how it works, once a recipient passes the eligibility criteria, they are provided with housing vouchers. After that, they can find and select the housing unit that best suits their needs. Yet, the choices are restricted when it comes to properties because the owners must accept the vouchers as a form of payment. Additionally, the local PHA carries out a number of inspections to confirm the property meets its requirements. Housing vouchers can only be used at properties that are inspected and deemed as qualifying.
Getting Section 8 Housing Assistance
As mentioned above, to qualify for the Section 8 Assistance Program, you will need to pass the four main factors of the selection criteria. This helps your PHA decide if you are eligible to receive financial aid or not. The four selection factors include income level, family status, eviction history, and citizenship status. However, there is still hope for everyone as exceptions are sometimes allowed when it comes to each factor. Nonetheless, when you apply for assistance from this program, there is a big chance that you will be placed on a waiting list. This is because of the large volume of requests that the PHA receives every day. Unfortunately, sometimes it is not possible to provide everyone with immediate assistance because of the limited number of resources available at hand. However, this does not necessarily mean that you should lose hope.
As a family, there are certain conditions that you need to meet to receive help from the Section 8 program. HUD has specific characteristics which they use to define a family. However, the local PHAs have been given the green light when it comes to having their own definition of a family. A family will be deemed eligible to receive assistance from this program if it:
- Has been displaced from their home for a qualifying reason
- Has at least one family member over the age of 62
- Has one or more people with a disability
- Is with or without children
The next factor to be considered when applying for Section 8 is the income level of an individual or a family. This program has been created to aid and assist those who truly need it the most. This means that priority is given to those with low-income levels. Due to the fact that housing choice vouchers are reserved for low-income families and communities, it is in your best interest that you communicate every aspect of your income. This means that you are required to provide information regarding any extra income you receive. This also means that it is best for you to provide information about any lack of income in your daily life. It helps representatives determine the urgency of your situation.
Having said that, you should know that there are three categories that help determine your overall income level. These categories are known as: “low income,” “very low income,” and “extremely low income.” If you wish to further explore your status and get a better understanding of income level categories, it is recommended that you use the HUD’s online tool.
As mentioned above, the definition of “low income” is split into three categories: low income, very low income, and extremely low income. Income levels vary from one area to another as they have to be calculated as a percentage of the area’s median income level. Here are the commonly used percentages of income as per the area’s median income level. The calculations are as follows:
- Low Income: 80% of the area’s median income level
- Very Low Income: 50% of the area’s median income level
- Extremely Low Income: 30% of the area’s median income level
It is important to know that a family’s size will heavily influence its income limits. Families with a large number of members cannot be compared to those with a small number of members when it comes to income. For instance, if a family of five makes $50,000 a year, then priority will be given to a family of ten who makes and survives off of the same amount.
Priority Given to Extremely Low Income
As previously mentioned, the Section 8 program was created to assist those who deal with low income levels. This means that representatives will give priority to low-income families and individuals. That’s why applicants with extremely low-income levels are prioritized above others when the selection process takes place. After the extremely low income level, priority then goes to very low-income level applicants.
Eviction history is also a crucial factor that is considered when applying for Section 8 assistance. When it comes to choosing the right recipient, representatives need to have a clear idea of what the applicant is like as a tenant. They find out this information by looking at the person or family’s eviction history. With this in mind, you should know that applications tend to get rejected if it has been proven that they have been previously evicted for specific issues. For instance, the HUD has the right to reject an individual or a family if their eviction history shows that they were involved in any drug-related matter or any other criminal activity.
Last but not least, your citizenship status also plays an important role in your application. If you are not an American citizen, this does not immediately mean that you are not eligible to receive assistance from the Section 8 program. Housing choice vouchers are issued for both American citizens and those with qualifying immigration status. If some of your family members have an eligible immigration status and others don’t, your household could still qualify. However, the amount you will qualify for will be calculated only on family members who have a qualifying citizenship status. The program automatically discounts the non-eligible members of the family when determining the amount of financial assistance they will be providing.
In summary, the Housing Choice Voucher program comes with many benefits. It is definitely a good opportunity for those who seek help with their financial situation. If you are looking for this type of assistance, make sure to submit your application at your local PHA. Keep in mind that you will need to pass the selection criteria. This criteria includes income level, family status, citizenship status, and eviction history. It’s important to remember that this program tends to be different in every state. This is why it is recommended that you get in touch with your local PHA!