How Does Section 8 Housing Work? An Introduction & Guide

Many people have heard the term “Section 8 housing” but don’t really know what it means. So how does Section 8 housing work?

The government’s Section 8 program was created to help low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities find affordable housing in their communities.

How Does Section 8 Housing Work
  • Participants need to choose an apartment unit, but they do not have to remain in the same unit if they want to move.
  • The federal government pays the rent directly to a landlord, who administers the payment on behalf of the tenant.

Section 8 Housing Requirements:

Such eligible households are issued a Section 8/HCVP Voucher that can be used toward rental payment. 

Eligible households are issued a Section 8/HCVP Voucher by the public housing authority via a lottery system.

 Each year, a family may participate in the lottery to receive a voucher. 

  1. If a Participating Family elects to remain in their current unit, they
    • Must first verify that it meets section 8 housing requirements
    • A tenant must contact the Public Housing Authority if they want to continue to live in their current subsidized housing unit after the lease agreement ends. 
    • The tenant will be given a lease extension at their current rent level or may elect to move to another unit.

 If the Participating Family elects to move out of the unit, they must first verify that it meets program requirements. A tenant must contact the Public Housing Authority if they want to continue to live in their current subsidized housing unit after the lease agreement ends. The tenant will be given a lease extension at their current rent level or may elect to move to another unit. Any rent increase will be determined by the Public Housing Authority. Rent increases will be made in accordance with HUD regulations and the Fair Market Rent for the area for which the unit is located.

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) contracts with eight regional housing agencies, one local housing authority, and Section 8 Management to administer its portfolio of Section 8/HCVP subsidies. Currently, there are 635 Section 8 HCVP units in the state.

All Section 8 HCVP units must be located in a jurisdiction that is served by a public housing authority. The housing authority and the tenant must have an agreement to lease the unit. The tenant is responsible for the monthly rent. The housing authority pays the difference between the tenant’s gross monthly income and the rental assistance amount, which amounts to about 30% of a family’s gross income.

How Does Section 8 Housing Work for Landlords

A lot of landlords don’t want to take in Section 8 tenants, because they’re worried that they can’t afford to provide them with the same level of service they provide other tenants.

A lot of landlords also think that Section 8 tenants are going to be a pain in the neck, and they might raise their rent if they have to move twice because of a landlord’s error.

But really, it’s all about how you handle things when something goes wrong. When your tenants need to move—whether because of an emergency or some other reason—you’re going to want to work together with them and make sure that everything works out for everyone involved. That means you need to get your Section 8 tenant into a new place as quickly as possible, and then make sure that everything is working well in their new home from Day One.

The first thing you need to decide is what type of tenant you want. Are you going for someone who’s going be actively looking for another place? Or do you want one who is going to be content where he is, and doesn’t mind paying the rent on time? If it’s the latter, you may want to go with a Section 8 tenant who has a job and can pay his own rent. The problem with Section 8 tenants, though, is that they aren’t always as interested in taking care of a place as an owner-occupant would be.

If you’re looking for a tenant who’s going to be motivated to leave, I’d suggest finding someone who’s recently lost their job or had some other kind of financial setback. They’ll probably be looking for somewhere cheaper than they have now, and they’ll probably be more likely to take care of your property since they’re invested in it.

To gain a deeper understanding of Section 8 eligibility and regulations, particularly in relation to landlords and tenant interactions, you can explore more about it here: Understand Section 8 eligibility and regulations.

How Does Section 8 Housing Work in California

The Section 8 housing program in California is a federally funded program run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This agency provides funding to local public housing agencies, which administer the Section 8 voucher program in cities and towns throughout California. The state’s largest public housing agencies are located in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.

Section 8 vouchers help extremely low-income Californians pay their rent. The basic idea is that the voucher holder pays 30 percent of her monthly income towards rent and utilities, and HUD covers the remaining 70 percent of the cost up to a maximum amount for each area in California. The maximum voucher payment, or “payment standard,” varies depending on the town or city where you live. For example, as of October 2010, the payment standard in San Francisco was $1,796 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, according to the San Francisco Housing Authority website.

  • The first step in applying for Section 8 housing assistance is to find your local public housing agency and request an application form. Your PHA may allow you to apply online or request an application over the phone; alternatively you can visit your local PHA office during its normal business hours.
  • Once your application is submitted and processed, your name will be placed on a waiting list. You should hear back from the PHA within 30 days of submitting your application or be contacted by phone if the PHA needs additional information or documentation.
  • Once you are approved, it may still take some time before you actually receive assistance: in some areas there are more applicants than available vouchers and waiting times can be long.
  • To apply for Section 8 housing assistance, contact your local public housing agency in California to submit an application for the program. If approved, you will eventually receive a voucher that can help you pay for rent in certain housing units.

How Does Section 8 Housing Work in Ohio

The process to apply for Section 8 in Ohio begins with the applicant filling out an application. This application must be filled out in person at the local housing authority office.

In addition to the application, the applicant must provide proof of income, assets, and expenses. The applicant will also need to provide personal identification information such as birth certificates of all household members, Social Security cards, and passport photos of all adults in the household.

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