Eligibility Requirements for Section 8


Going through financial hardship happens from time to time. Obviously, no one wants this to happen but it’s normal if you’ve found yourself in a tight spot. If this is you, and you need support to get out of your current situation, you should consider applying to the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program. The Section 8 Housing Assistance program is a federal housing aid program that supports those with limited income.

Understanding Section 8 Assistance

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8, is a program that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers. This housing aid program provides housing vouchers to those who are eligible. If someone wants to find out if they can qualify and get benefits, then there are four primary factors to consider. The factors are level of income, household size, eviction background, and citizenship status. Despite the fact that the HUD designed the program, your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) is in charge of running it. Recipients get housing vouchers to pay for housing expenses. However, this doesn’t mean they can pick any home they want. That’s because availability is based on the homes that allow this payment type. Additionally, the local PHA conducts an inspection on the home that the home must pass. If everything looks alright then a tenant will be able to move in under this program.

Getting Section 8 Benefits

Section 8 looks at four primary factors to define a person’s eligibility. These four primary factors are:

  • Household size
  • Level of income
  • Eviction background
  • Citizenship status

You should remember that every requirement can come with exceptions. Additionally, you should remember that when you apply, you will probably be put on a waitlist. This is because there are plenty of households out there that are also applying, however, there is limited assistance out there–which is why you might be in for a wait.

Household Size

Your household needs to meet certain requirements to be eligible for Section 8 benefits. There is a definition for “family” that HUD has. However, local PHAs have the authorization to have their own definition too! Typically, a household needs to meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • There must be a minimum of one person older than the age of 62
  • Families should have or not have kids
  • Households should have at least one person that has a disability
  • Families must have gone through home displacement for an eligible cause

Level of Income

The level of income is another requirement to meet for Section 8 benefits. Section 8 focuses on helping those who have limited income and need the most support. If you want to be eligible for benefits, then your family’s annual income should be lower than a certain amount. Additionally, your family’s level of income can affect the amount of financial support you can get.

Generally, your annual level of income should be in one of the three following categories. These categories are: “extremely low income”, “very low income,” and “low income.” If you want to know more about these categories and where you fit, then you can consider looking through HUD’s tool online.

Different Categories for Low Income Levels

The HUD sets annual income restrictions. These restrictions are split into the three categories above. The main factor that determines the levels of income is the area. This is due to the fact that the percentage of the area’s median income level determines the actual levels of income. So, locations will have different limits that families must meet depending on the average income of the area.

  • Extremely Low Income: amounts to 30% of the area’s median income level.
  • Very Low Income: amounts to 50% of the area’s median income level.
  • Low Income: amounts to 80% of the area’s median income level.

A household’s size corresponds with these income restrictions. For instance, a five-person household that earns $40,000 per year will be in a different financial situation as opposed to a seven-person household that earns the same amount.

Offering Priority to Extremely-Low Income

Those that need the most financial support, or fit into the “extremely low-income” category, get priority for housing vouchers first. This is because they face more difficult challenges. After that, the next priority goes to those in the very low-income level and finally to the low-income level.

Background of Eviction

Background of eviction is another important factor when it comes to applying for Section 8 assistance. The background of eviction notifies Section 8 authorities about what kind of tenant the recipient was in previous rentals. Furthermore, there is a possibility that someone can be ineligible if specific concerns led to their eviction in the past. For instance, someone can be ineligible for benefits if they were evicted because of a drug-related concern or other criminal action.

Citizenship Status

Your citizenship status is the final factor that affects whether you qualify or not. Your household might actually be eligible for benefits, even if you do not have American citizenship. American citizens or people with eligible immigrant status can receive housing vouchers. Also, households that have people with both qualifying and disqualifying immigration statuses could still get housing support. However, the benefit amount the household will receive is based only on the number of people who qualify for housing assistance. This means that even if you have someone in your family who doesn’t have qualifying immigration status, you can still get support. The amount you receive is just based on the number of eligible family members living in the home.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Section 8 program can be very useful to improve your housing situation! If you want to receive benefits from the program, then your local PHA is the place to go for information or if you want to apply. To qualify for Section 8 benefits, there are four main factors that determine your eligibility. These factors are:

  • Household size
  • Level of income
  • Eviction background
  • Citizenship status

Keep in mind that specific eligibility requirements differ based on state. Furthermore, this is why you need to reach out to your local PHA for information. They are responsible for administering the Section 8 program at the state level. Getting help with housing costs can make a world of difference if you are in a tough financial situation. Make sure to come prepared with personal information when reaching out to your local PHA. You will want to have these details handy in case you submit an application.