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Rent Assistance

Discover Rent Assistance Options

With so many low-income households in the United States, there are various programs that are designed to assist these struggling households with paying for their rent. One of these programs is referred to as Section 8, and it provides housing choice vouchers to eligible needy recipients so that they can afford to live in safe, decent and sanitary houses or apartments. To learn more about Section 8 and other programs, read the sections below.

Who needs rent assistance?

Oftentimes, households do not have an income that affords making their rent payment in addition to paying for other necessities including medical bills, food, transportation costs and more. Not having enough money to pay rent can be extremely stressful and can end up resulting in the family losing their home. In order to prevent this from happening, the U.S. government has multiple housing assistance programs available, with one of the most popular being Section 8.

What is Section 8?

The Section 8 program is also commonly referred to as the housing choice voucher program. This is because the program administers housing vouchers to qualifying low-income, disabled and elderly applicants. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds these housing vouchers. Although the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds the vouchers, they are officially administered locally by the public housing agency (PHA) in each state. PHAs manage applications and properties.

How Rent Assistance Works

Each month, the PHA on behalf of the participating family applies housing vouchers to the recipient’s rent. Usually the voucher does not cover the entire rent amount, so the household must end up paying the difference between the actual rent amount charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the housing vouchers. This means that after the PHA applies the voucher, a certain portion of the rent is removed. The remaining amount of the rent must be paid by the Section 8 recipient.

It is very important to understand that in order to receive Section 8 assistance, the family may need to be placed on a wait list. This is because rent assistance is in high demand, and many households have applied to receive the benefits. The wait times for the housing choice voucher program will vary greatly depending on the household’s location and eligibility.

Section 8 Eligibility

The PHA in each state is responsible for determining who is eligible to receive Section 8 housing choice vouchers. In order to determine who is eligible, certain criteria are assessed. The criteria used to determine eligibility is mostly based on annual gross income and the household size. In addition, the applicant must prove that he or she is a U.S. citizen or that he or she has lawful permanent residency in the U.S.

Generally, most households must have an income that is less than 50 percent of the median income in the county or area that the family chooses to live in or currently lives in to qualify for the vouchers. In addition, as mentioned above, other criteria such as household size, assets and family composition may be analyzed as well.

Also, before an applicant is deemed eligible, first he or she must find any apartment or home that complies with the health and safety standards established by the PHA. Or, housing vouchers can be provided to households that already have a home. As long as the new or current home is up to the PHA standards and the household meets all other eligibility requirements, they can then begin the application process. 

Before applying, it is crucial to understand that the Section 8 program is federally mandated to provide the majority of its housing vouchers to households that have a median income of less than 30 percent of their area’s median income. The remainder of the vouchers are generally provided to the households who have a median income that is between 30 and 50 percent of their area’s median income.

Applying for Section 8

Before starting an application for the Section 8 program, it is crucial for applicants to have a good idea of what the eligibility requirements are in their area. The application process for any type of rent assistance, particularly Section 8 assistance, can be very lengthy and require a lot of thorough information. Because of the long process, it is very helpful for applicants to understand ahead of time whether or not they qualify, which then determines whether or not they will apply.

Because each state has a different PHA and may have different eligibility requirements for the Section 8 program, the application process may be different as well. This means that in order to qualify for Section 8 rent assistance, the applicant must contact the public housing agency (PHA) in their area. Also, applicant’s that have any questions or concerns may also contact the Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Other Rent Assistance Programs

In addition to the Section 8 assistance program, there are also other programs that can provide rent assistance. The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers many of these programs including assistance with privately owned subsidized housing, and public housing as well. The privately owned subsidized housing program helps the apartment complex owners to offer reduced rent to low-income tenants. For more information on that program, applicants must find an apartment and apply directly through the apartment management office. Lastly, the public housing program offers affordable apartments to low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities. To learn more about this program, applicants must contact the PHA in their area.

Furthermore, each state is able to administer its own rent assistance programs, so it is very important that anyone interested in receiving assistance in paying for their rent investigate the programs that their state offers. These programs all vary in terms of benefits, eligibility and the application process, which makes it crucial that interested applicants research each program in order to determine if it is a good fit for their household and situation.

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