What Is Section 8? How To Get Section 8

Finding affordable housing can be challenging, especially for low-income individuals and families. Fortunately, the Section 8 housing assistance program provides a lifeline, offering subsidies that make decent, safe, and sanitary housing attainable for those in need. In this article, we will delve into the details of Section 8 and how to get Section 8, its different programs, eligibility criteria, and the step-by-step process to obtain this invaluable housing support.

Understanding Section 8 Housing Assistance

What is Section 8? Section 8 is a federal housing assistance program that aims to bridge the gap between low-income individuals and affordable housing. Administered by local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), this initiative provides rental assistance to eligible households, enabling them to find suitable accommodations in the private rental market.

Types of Section 8 Programs: The Section 8 program comes in various forms, including the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, which provides vouchers to eligible tenants to subsidize their rent in private properties. There is also the Project-Based Voucher (PBV) Program, where specific units within rental properties are reserved for Section 8 tenants. Additionally, the Voucher Homeownership Program assists Section 8 beneficiaries in purchasing a home.

Eligibility Criteria for Section 8

Income Requirements: To qualify for Section 8, applicants must have incomes below the set income limits, which are determined based on the family size and the area’s median income. Preference is often given to extremely low-income families, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities.

Citizenship or Eligible Immigrant Status: Applicants must be U.S. citizens or have eligible immigrant status to be considered for Section 8 assistance.

Background Checks and Criminal History: PHAs conduct background checks on applicants to ensure they meet the program’s requirements, including evaluating their criminal history.

How To Get Section 8

Applying for Section 8

Contacting the Local PHA: To initiate the application process, interested individuals should reach out to their nearest PHA office. PHAs are responsible for administering Section 8 locally.

Completing the Application Process: Applicants need to complete the Section 8 application accurately and thoroughly. This includes providing documentation such as proof of income, identification, and other necessary paperwork.

Waiting Period and Application Status: Due to the high demand for affordable housing, there is often a waiting period for Section 8 assistance. Applicants should stay informed about their application status and any updates from the PHA.

Section 8 Voucher and Housing Search

Receiving the Section 8 Voucher: Once approved, eligible applicants receive a Section 8 voucher. These vouchers outline the amount of rental assistance the household is eligible to receive and the expiration date of the voucher.

Starting the Housing Search: With the voucher in hand, recipients can begin their housing search. It is essential to seek housing options that accept Section 8 vouchers. Communicating with landlords about Section 8 acceptance is crucial during this process.

Inspections and Lease Agreements

Property Inspection Process: Before moving in, the PHA will conduct an inspection of the rental property to ensure it meets the required safety and quality standards.

Signing the Lease Agreement: Once the property passes inspection, the tenant and landlord will sign the lease agreement, outlining the terms and conditions of the rental.

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Tenant’s Responsibilities and Rights

Tenant’s Responsibilities Under Section 8: Section 8 tenants must fulfill their responsibilities, such as paying rent on time and reporting any changes in income or household composition.

Tenant’s Rights Under Section 8: Section 8 tenants have rights, including protection against discrimination and the right to request repairs and maintenance.

Recertification and Program Renewal

Recertification Process: Periodically, the PHA will recertify tenants’ income and household composition to ensure they still qualify for Section 8 assistance.

Program Renewal and Extension: Beneficiaries can request program renewal or extensions when necessary, especially if there are changes in housing or family circumstances.


Section 8 housing assistance is a vital resource that opens doors to affordable housing for those in need. By understanding the program, meeting the eligibility criteria, and following the application process, individuals and families can access safe and decent housing, improving their overall quality of life. If you or someone you know could benefit from Section 8, take the first step and contact your local PHA to explore this invaluable opportunity for affordable housing.

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