It’s no secret that the cost of living has increased over the last few years. As a result, many households have found themselves in a situation where the cost of rent is too much to handle. If you’re dealing with this, there are many solutions that can lower your cost of living. Moving to an area where the cost of living is lower is one option. Another option is to get a roommate. However, if neither of those options work for you, you can turn to government assistance. One popular federal assistance program is the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Explaining The Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
You may also recognize this federal housing assistance program as Section 8. Qualifying recipients of the Housing Choice Voucher program are given vouchers that go towards their housing expenses, such as rent. A benefit that they provide recipients, other than rental assistance, is freedom of choice. This is because voucher recipients choose their own rental unit to live in. This allows a household the freedom to select where they want to live! Due to this freedom, households may get the chance to live in better neighborhoods that they could not otherwise afford. Better neighborhoods typically offer an increased sense of safety, good schools, and better job opportunities. The ultimate goal of Section 8 is to provide households in financial need with affordable, safe, and decent housing.
What You Can Expect from Section 8
This housing assistance program is effective for reducing housing insecurity in low-income households. However, this program also works to combat the affordable housing shortage currently happening within the United States. They do this by motivating developers to build more affordable housing units with tax incentives.
The vouchers that Section 8 recipients benefit from are paid directly to their landlord to cover some of the monthly rent. How much assistance a recipient can get is dependent on their specific circumstances. The average cost of rent in the area that the recipient lives in also affects how much the voucher amounts to. The remainder of housing expenses that are not covered by the voucher are left up to the recipient to pay.
Eligibility requirements aren’t the same everywhere that the program is offered. You can consult with your local Public Housing Authority to get more information on your state’s qualifications. Both applicants and recipients deal with their PHA because the program is operated locally and not federally.
Families that benefit from this housing assistance can have a greater positive impact outside of just the financial aspect. Research supports the idea that living in a high-opportunity area can provide more employment opportunities as well as lower vulnerability to violent crimes. In addition, children can benefit from better school systems. Therefore, allowing a family the ability to move into a better area can have positive effects on both children and adults.
The Benefits Vs the Disadvantages of Section 8
When considering whether or not Section 8 is a good option for you, it’s important to have all of the information. It may sound exciting to get much-needed help with housing expenses while being able to choose where you live! However, this program doesn’t come without any disadvantages. Let’s compare some of the benefits of Section 8 with some of the disadvantages.
Benefits of Section 8
Some of the advantages that you can expect include:
- More freedom to choose where to live: As previously stated, Section 8 has its recipients find their own rental property to live in. Therefore, they aren’t limited to areas where public housing is available. This fact, combined with the financial assistance, offers recipients a chance to live in areas with greater opportunity.
- Potential for additional positive impacts: Living in areas with greater opportunity can positively impact a family’s circumstances long-term. This is because both educational and employment opportunities may be more accessible, whereas they weren’t before.
- Reduces housing insecurity: Low-income families and individuals can benefit from Section 8. Often, these households were at risk for or already experiencing housing insecurity. The monthly financial assistance can greatly reduce their expenses and get them back on their feet.
- Promotes the development of more affordable housing: By providing tax incentives to housing developers, Section 8 is promoting the expansion of affordable housing across the U.S.
Disadvantages of Section 8
Now let’s take a look at the disadvantages you may face with this housing assistance program:
- Not enough available housing options: When a Section 8 recipient finds a rental property to live in, they need to make sure the landlord accepts housing vouchers. Whether a landlord does or does not want to is completely up to them. This can make it difficult when searching through the already limited number of rentals available.
- Funding limits: Many families are in need of access to affordable housing. Unfortunately, Section 8 cannot help them all at once. For this reason, approved applicants don’t get assistance right away. Instead, they are placed on a waiting list until it’s their turn.
- Complicated application process: Section 8 applicants may run into roadblocks when applying for assistance. The application can take time to fill out and sort through.
Becoming a Homeowner Using Housing Choice Vouchers
Thanks to the Homeownership Voucher Program, current voucher recipients may be able to use their vouchers towards becoming homeowners. Before we get into the details, it’s important to keep in mind that this program isn’t available everywhere. Not only that, there is also limited funding available. Furthermore, in order to qualify, certain criteria must be met. First, the program requires recipients to go through a homeownership counseling class. The class covers helpful topics and provides tips about the purchasing process and budgeting.
In addition to the class, other criteria are considered. This includes rental history, income level, and credit standing. The Homeownership Voucher Program allows current voucher recipients to use their assistance for housing expenses, specific to owning a home. This includes monthly expenses such as mortgage payments and property taxes.
Households experiencing housing insecurity may wonder if there is anywhere for them to turn. If you’re struggling financially, you may fear the first of every month because rent is due. However, you don’t have to live like that! There are various government opportunities that offer housing support. One in particular is the Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8.
Recipients of Section 8 receive vouchers that can be used towards the cost of rent. One of the biggest advantages of this program is being able to choose the rental unit you live in. This offers families the ability to move to nicer neighborhoods that they could not afford without the help of Section 8. Studies support the idea that living in safer and more affluent neighborhoods can positively impact many aspects of a family’s life. While there are great advantages to receiving Section 8, the program does not come without its pitfalls. There is a shortage of affordable housing in the U.S. Therefore, many families need the help of housing assistance. As a result, approved applicants can wait for months or years to get the support they need. However, don’t let the disadvantages discourage you from getting help! You may find that the benefits outweigh any downfalls.