Section 8 Housing Eligibility

The Section 8 housing program helps low-income individuals and families in American society find appropriate clean housing in crime-free neighborhoods. Housing assistance is granted in tandem by the government and Public Housing authority who cooperate to help place the applicant in an affordable and nice home.

Individuals who apply for Section 8 Housing receive the vouchers from the local Public Housing Authorities who in turn receive funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD pays subsidies to landlords to help equalize the difference between the market price of a rental unit and what can be afforded by the applicant. The difference here is that this program changes lives in that a person is no longer required to pay 80% of their income or more just to afford to have a place to live. The amount of rent they pay each month will be significantly reduced as Section 8 pays 70% of the rent due each to the landlord on the applicant’s behalf.

Requirements for Section 8 Eligibility

To be eligible to apply you must be able to prove that you are paying more than 50% of what you make towards rent. You also have to prove that you have an income that is lower than 30% of the people who work and live in your immediate residential neighborhood. The actual income levels are determined by median figures based on census and other data. Usually you are turned down for assistance if your income level exceeds the 30% mark of the area’s median income.

The income levels are published by HUD on a list on its website so that you can see if you are eligible for subsidization. You can also get a list of what the income limits are in your area for your community’s Public Housing Authority. Information is available about what is required in order to be able to apply at the HUD website at

How Local Requirements Affect Section 8 Housing Eligibility

Even if you are approved for Section 8 Housing you can end up waiting quite a while before you are offered a voucher. You can wait months just to hear about the status of your application because the demand for reasonably priced rental units is so high in many cities. How long you have to wait can also depend on the competence of your local office. In areas of high demand a Public Housing Authority might actually refuse to add to its waiting list if it is out of money.

One of the issues with this program is that once a tenant moves in, the landlord can still raise the rent. A rental property’s worth is based on the market rental prices but this payment standard does not prevent the landlord from charging more than the market value for an apartment. Section 8 does not guarantee a rent freeze. If a family has a housing voucher but the rent is higher than the amount compensated for then the family still has to pay the elevated cost. Most landlords can raise the rent on a HUD tenant just one year after the tenant moves in.

For more information about Section 8 Housing go to