Section 8 Housing Requirements

The housing choice voucher program is a major assistance program in the United States that helps low-income individuals and families in society find affordable and decent housing. Since the government and Public Housing authority on behalf of the family or individual provide housing assistance, participants are able to find their own housing as long as it meets the program requirements.

Individuals receive the vouchers from the local Public Housing Authorities who in turn apply for funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD is the administering body for the program. The subsidy is paid directly to a landlord on behalf of the participating family to help defray the difference between the market price of a rental unit and what the family can really afford.

Requirements for Section 8 Housing

To be eligible you must have a designated housing size and total annual gross income that has you paying more than 50% of what you make towards rent. The Section 8 programs are in place to reduce that to 30% of what you make so you can make some progress in life. The actual income levels are determined by median figures in your area about income levels. Usually you are not eligible if your income level exceeds the 30% mark of the area median income. These income levels are published by HUD So you can see what the chances are of you meeting all of the requirements. You can also get a list of what the income limits are in your area for your situation and family size from your local Public Housing Authority. Information is available about these requirements at the HUD website at

How Local Requirements Affect You

Local requirements can affect you because even if you are approved you are put on a waiting list that allows some individuals to jump ahead if their situation is dire enough. This means that there are very long waiting periods to hear about an approval for your application; waits of more than a year are quite common. In areas of high demand a Public Housing Authority might actually close its waiting list due to a lack of granting from HUD or just running out of money before it is time for the agency to apply for grants from HUD for the following year.

What you will pay per month is based on the rates offered in the local housing market but this payment standard does not prevent the landlord from charging more than the market value for a rental unit. If a family has a housing voucher but the rent is higher than the amount compensated for, that is determined at market value, then the family must still pay the extra rent charged.

There is another point to consider, and that is that even though you are allowed to bring your housing voucher with you, when you find a new place you will not be allowed to pay more than forty percent of your adjusted monthly income for rent. For more information about the eligibility and obligations of Section 8 Housing go to