Section 8 eligibility requirements involve a two-part process. Keep in mind, eligibility requirements for Section 8 housing will vary from county to county.
There are also certain groups in which eligibility requirements differ, including the elderly, the disabled and families with children. The main factor in being eligible for Section 8 housing includes earned income levels. This is a government-funded program run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Each county or state has its own local Public Housing Agency (PHA) that collects and reviews Section 8 applications. The PHA considers several factors to determine Section 8 eligibility for the HUD program. This includes family eligibility requirements, income limits and student status. Since there are more applicants than resources, each PHA has its own eligibility requirements and waiting lists.
Each Section 8 application is reviewed, and then awarded to families who meet the need for affordable and safe housing. The PHA must also conduct a thorough screening of applicants that can result in a denial or disqualification. Continue reading to understand each factor involved, and the general processes in which eligibility for housing assistance is determined.
Section 8 Eligibility Requirements
Section 8 eligibility is determined by your local PHA. The PHA considers four, different eligibility factors. Each one of these factors must be met, in order to be accepted into the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), otherwise known as Section 8.
Before applying, visit your local PHA website to research all of the requirements, and how to fill out an application. The eligibility factors for Section 8 housing admission include:
- Family eligibility requirements: The applicant must meet the HUD definition of a “family.” Be aware the PHA adheres to the Fair Housing Act, in which no applicant can be discriminated against for marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. “Family” definitions include:
- A single individual.
- A group of individuals residing together. (This includes families with or without children.)
- An elderly family of at least 62 years of age.
- And near-elderly family, in which individuals are older than 50 years of age, but younger than 62.
- A disabled family in which one or more persons has a disability.
- A displaced family in which one or more members of the family was displaced through government action, or a past dwelling was damaged or destroyed.
- Income limit: Each local PHA is responsible for setting median income limits to determine eligibility for HUD housing. Income limits are separated by family size, and should be updated annually. To meet Section 8 eligibility, income levels must be very low (generally under 50 percent of area median income) or at low income (generally under 80 percent).
- Other factors taken into consideration are individuals who have consistently needed government assistance housing or have utilized the HCVP program in the past.
- Student status: There are specific restrictions for household members with student eligibility. This is regardless of whether the individual is considered a full-time or part-time student. Also, the applicant must not reside with his or her parents. To be eligible for the program as a student, you must be:
- At least 24 years of age or older.
- A veteran.
- Have a child.
- A person with a disability at the time of a Section 8 housing application.
- A graduate or professional student.
- Citizenship status: Since this is a federal housing assistance program, it is limited to U.S. citizens, or those who are eligible for immigration status. If you are eligible for citizenship, you must provide proper documentation declaring your status.
How to Get Section 8 Immediately
There are ways on how to get emergency housing assistance. They are special groups who qualify, and might avoid a waitlist. These special groups are considered elderly, disabled or those who have families with children. There are several additional Section 8 housing programs these groups fall under for eligibility. These include:
- Section 202, Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program, which provides additional assistance to seniors with a very-low-income threshold. This program is funded through local nonprofit organizations and cooperatives that meet certain criteria. Since Section 202 was started, it has allowed an expansion of affordable Section 8 housing availability.
- Section 811, Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program is a subsection of the HCVP. Persons with disabilities can continue to live independently throughout the community with these affordable housing options.
- Families with children: Under the Fair Housing Act it is prohibited to discriminate families with children. This covers families with children younger than the age of 18, pregnant individuals, adoptive children and foster parents.
Depending on your local PHA, you could be eligible for an emergency Section 8 housing voucher program. This program is in place specifically to assist the elderly, disabled and families with children depending on severity of the situation. This includes displacement from other government housing or severe property damage. Inquire with your local PHA to see if this available in your area, and how to get emergency housing assistance.
Extra Housing Resources for the Elderly and Disabled
- Supplemental Security Income
- Social Security Disability
- ElderCare Locator
- Non-Elderly Disabled Housing Voucher
How a Government Shutdown May Affect Section 8 Eligibility
A Section 8 government shutdown directly affects the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Since grants and capital advances are funded federally, this typically will impact Section 8 housing for tenants. There are several ways a government shutdown could affect individuals living in Section 8 housing.
During a government shutdown, HUD’s goal for Section 8 housing is to continue payments for rental contracts to landlords. This includes agreement Section 202 and Section 811. They will avoid eviction for elderly and disabled residents at all costs. Depending on how long a government shutdown lasts will determine if additional resources are needed. This could affect internal employment, which will affect Section 8 housing residents who have emergency questions.
A government shutdown primarily affects capital funding to landlords who are working to reconstruct buildings and apartments to continually stay up-to-code on providing safe and sanitary housing. Without these funds, the landlords are unable to maintain their current operations, thus putting low-income tenants at risk.