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Housing Choice Vouchers

The HUD Housing Choice Vouchers

If you are a very low-income family, elderly, or disabled and need to find a place to live, the HUD housing voucher program (formerly known as Section 8 housing), may be the right housing program for you.

The housing choice voucher program is a federal government program which allows eligible individuals and families the ability to afford safe and clean housing in the private market. This HUD housing assistance allows you to find your own housing which can include apartments, single-family homes, and townhouses.

You are able to select any housing that meets the program requirements and you are not limited to public housing that is provided in government housing projects.

If you are eligible for the housing choice voucher program, you can get the housing vouchers locally through your Public Housing Agency (PHA). The Public Housing Agencies get their federal funds to manage the voucher program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD.

If your family is approved and provided a housing voucher, you are responsible for finding a suitable house of your choice. The owner must agree to rent to you under the housing voucher program. This housing unit can include the residence you are currently living in, if the owner agrees to participate in the program. All rental units have to meet the minimum standards of safety and health. That standard is determined by the public housing authority.

The housing subsidy is paid directly to the landlord by the PHA on behalf of your family. You will then need to pay the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount paid by the voucher program. In some situations, if approved by the PHA, your family may be able to use the housing voucher to purchase an approved home.

Do You Qualify For Housing Vouchers?

To determine if you are eligible for the Section 8 program, the local PHA makes that determination based on your family size and total annual gross income. Only U.S. citizens and certain groups of non-citizens with the required immigration status are qualified.

Typically, your family income can not exeed 50% of the median income for the county or urban area in which you decide to live. The PHA must provide 75% of its voucher to applicants that have incomes that do not exceed 30% of the area median income.

The median income levels can vary by location and are published by HUD. Your local PHA can give you the income limits for your area and the size of your family.

Once you apply, the PHA will review your family income, family size, and assets. The PHA will then need to verify your information with your employer, bank, and other local agencies. Once this review is completed, the PHA will use that information to determine if you are eligible for the housing voucher program and the amount of housing assistance payment you can receive.

Once the PHA decides that your family does qualify, your name will be put on a waiting list if they are unable to assist you right away. If you are on a waiting list, once your name is reached, you will be contacted by the PHA and they will give you a housing voucher.

Types Of Housing Vouchers

Currently, there are nine different types of vouchers that are available under the housing voucher program.

1. Conversion Vouchers - These vouchers provide replacement housing when public housing is demolished or converted. The vouchers can also be used to relocate families that are living in project housing that is converted. They can also be used when an owner decides to discontinue a Section 8 contract.

2. Family Unification Vouchers -These vouchers allow families that need to rent affordable housing so that the children can stay with their familes or be reunited with their families.

3. Homeownership Vouchers - These housing vouchers give very low income families the ability to buy a home.

4. Project Based Vouchers - These vouchers get property owners to build, rebuild, or make exisiting housing units available for very low income families to lease.

5. Tenant Based Vouchers - Provides very low income families with vouchers to rent or lease affordable, safe, and decent privately owned housing.

6. HUD-Vash Vouchers - These vouchers provide very low-income homeless veterans with a combination of HUD rental assistance and Veteran Affairs case management services.

7. Vouchers for People with Disabilities - The vouchers provide very low-income families with disabilities the ability to lease private housing that is affordable.

8. Welfare-to-Work Vouchers - The WtW vouchers continue to assist families that make the transition from welfare to economic self-sufficiency. 

9. Witness Relocation Vouchers - The vouchers provide rental assistance to witness that have been relocated because they helped combat crime around public and other HUD-assisted housing.

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