How To Qualify For A Section 8 Voucher

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The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance program has some basic requirements for admission. These rules are set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and enforced by the agency’s locally-based offices, known as housing authorities.

Before applying for Section 8 rental assistance, it’s important to start by reviewing the qualifications. If an applicant does not meet the federal requirements, they will not get a voucher.

These are the requirements to qualify for Section 8 housing:

  1. Be at least 18 years old.


    There is only a minimum age requirement for submitting an application. People of any age can live in Section 8 housing.

    Some waiting lists may have a preference for ‘Elderly’ (62+) or ‘Near-Elderly’ (55+) applicants. This can shorten a household’s time on a waiting list.

  2. Be a U.S. citizen, or an eligible immigrant.


    The Section 8 program is available for an immigrant who is a:

    • Lawful permanent resident
    • Registry immigrant
    • Refugee or asylee
    • Conditional entrant
    • Parolee
    • Withholding grantee
    • Person granted 1986 amnesty status
    • Resident of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, or Guam
    • Victim, or relative of a victim of traffickingPhoto of the United States flag waving in the wind, with a sunrise in the background. Photo by Adobe Stock

  3. Do not exceed the income limit.


    The Section 8 HCV program is for ‘Very-Low Income’ households. This means they must make less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) where the voucher is issued. HUD calls this the income limit.

    To know if your household meets the income limit, add the gross income of all household members, except those under 18 years old.

    The maximum income limits for an area’s waiting list can usually be found on a public notice, on the housing authority’s website, or by contacting the office.

    HUD’s income limits for an area can also be found here. Use the search bar on the top of the page, then scroll down on the results page to find the section titled ‘‘Income Qualifications for HUD Rental Assistance.”Photo of different U.S. bills forming a cash pile with white background. Photo by Adobe Stock.

  4. Pass a basic background check.


    A household will be immediately disqualified if any member:

    • Is on a state lifetime sex offender registry.
    • Has been evicted from HUD housing in the last five years.
    • Had assistance terminated by a housing authority for any reason.
    • Owes money to a housing authority.

    Criminal records will not automatically disqualify a household, but it may make it difficult to receive housing. The severity of the offense is considered upon review.Illustrated image of a background check score. Image by Adobe Stock.

Common Misconceptions

In today’s age, misinformation about qualifying for Section 8 can unfortunately spread fast.

There are no requirements to have a family, or to have children.

Both single applicants and families are eligible for a voucher. Parents, and those without children are all eligible, too.

HUD commonly refers to any household as a ‘family,’ which can sometimes cause confusion. A HUD ‘family’ is a household of one or more people, and does not account for children.

There is also no minimum income requirement. A household can qualify with no income.

What Next?

Now that the basic requirements have been checked, it’s time to find an open waiting list and apply for housing.

Continue Reading – How To Apply For A Section 8 Voucher