Assistance from Section 8 housing choice voucher program.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, which is commonly referred to as Section 8, is a Federal Government funded benefit for very low income families as well as those close to living in poverty. The program is income based, meaning the tenant and the government share in the cost of the monthly housing expenses of the client. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) both created and still currently funds it. Section 8 provides rent subsidized homes and apartments to tenants as well as vouchers to pay for housing expenses. There are also units for the disabled as well as senior citizens who live on a limited income.

Applications to Section 8 are available at the local state and county level. They will be processed by various government agencies, community action agencies, public housing agencies (PHAs), and also non-profits organizations. Applicants who are accepted into the Section 8 program will receive free vouchers which are used to help pay rent and in effect subsidize the cost of their total housing expenses. More information on how and where to apply for a voucher near you is below, listed by state.

The service is available across the nation and it is the primary federal government housing or rent assistance program. Low income individuals and families, the elderly, senior citizens, and disabled are the main recipients of financial aid from Sec 8. There may also be applications taking from immigrants as well as single mothers or dads as the benefit does not discriminate based on age, race, or religion.

Section 8 provides various forms of support to low-income renters and even homeowners. This housing assistance is issued primarily in the form of long term rental subsidies that will help pay for an apartment or other type of property. The voucher can help help a low income family purchase a home too. Applicants can even select the type of home they want to live in. The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV) will have the effect of limiting the total monthly rent payment that needs to be made by the recipient. Or find how section 8 help families buy a home.





How are section 8 funds distributed?

A local agency in your area will be tasked with running Section 8 and distributing funds. If you apply to the program and are accepted, a housing subsidy payment will be paid directly to your landlord by the PHA or community action agency near you that operates the voucher service. The funds can pay for all different types of homes, including apartments, condominiums, town-homes, mobile units, and even a home shared with a family member. There may be information given from a PHA on how to apply for emergency Section 8 vouchers as well, as this is possible in some states.

The voucher will pay any rent costs above 30% of the applicants adjusted total monthly income up to an established limit, which may vary based on the state or other Department of HUD Section 8 program terms. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the Housing Choice Voucher program. Therefore, the government pays some of the rental expenses, and the participant is responsible for a portion as well. It helps the tenant free up their income for paying for other bills their family has, such as food, utility, transportation or heating costs.

Types of apartments or homes paid for by vouchers

Families have flexibility in where they live. The housing choice voucher program, or Section 8, places the choice of where to live and how to find housing in the hands of the family or individual who is applying for financial aid. The applicant should always be sure to budget though to ensure it is affordable and that they have enough money left over for food, utilities, and other living expenses. As HCV is limited in funding and resources, and tenants will still have other financial obligations they are responsible for.





A very low-income family, a disabled individual, or senior citizen that is selected by the PHA to participate is encouraged to consider several different apartments to live in. The voucher can pay for a supportive housing unit for an elderly person, or it can pay for handicap accessible units. The applicant should always review all choices to secure the best housing for their family needs.

The maximum amount paid by HUD is also market driven. Applicants do have flexibility and options available to them based on whether they live in an expensive state or one with a lower cost of living. The PHA will make this assessment each year, and the range may increase or decrease annually. There may also be a home visit done to ensure the home is safe to live in. The payment from Section 8 will usually be able to pay the rent for a moderately priced dwelling unit in the local housing market of the applicant.

Some families that currently receive section 8 vouchers may want to move to the suburbs, or maybe to a safer apartment in a community with better schools or that is closer to their place of employment. The HUD Small Area FMR program can help with this. This government benefit will pay the tenant more money to address an increase in rent of a better home. Some clients may even get help with paying energy bills from the HUD voucher. More on the Small Area Fair Market Rents program.

Apply for Section 8

As indicated above, the Section 8 program is a Federal government funded benefit that is currently being administered nationally by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Each year money is allocated to each state. They use those funds to help very low income families pay for their home or apartment. However, the housing assistance program is administered at the state and county level in your area by public housing authorities (PHA). Or, in some parts of the country, it may be run by other designated agencies and organizations, such as non-profits or community action agencies.

Find your state below and who to contact to apply for section 8 near you. There are various points of contact. Generally the best place to start is a local public housing authrority (PHA). A staff member can show a family how to apply for a Housing Choice Voucher.

Unfortunately the demand for rent and housing assistance is extensive. Many states have waiting lists in place. It can take years for someone to be accepted into the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program in their area. Some states have even been known to stop taking applications due to a lack of units to lease.




There can be priority given in some situations so that an emergency section 8 housing choice voucher can be issued to pay the rent on a home or apartment. Generally, this assistance is for the disabled, low income senior citizens, women fleeing domestic violence, or veterans. But other scenarios may apply as well. It will still take time, and the demand for priority placement is also high. However, find more details on emergency section 8 vouchers.

Several different criteria will need to be met in order to be accepted into the Section 8 housing choice voucher program. To help ensure that the process is smooth, be prepared with documentation. The PHA or agency that you apply to will collect information on family income, composition, residency, age and total household assets. In some emergency situations, the applicant can have their name moved up the Section 8 waiting list.

While each states program may vary slightly, in general the clients rent payment made to the landlord will be based on the applicants total household income. It also takes into account the amount due per the lease agreement place with the property owner. The voucher you receive from the government funded program will pay anything above 30% of your adjusted monthly income up to an established limit towards your monthly rent payment.

If a family has no income and savings available to them, they can also apply for a section 8 voucher. There are instances in which they can live rent free in an government subsidized home or apartment. It is part of what the US Department of Housing and Urban Development provides to very low income families as well as eligible immigrants that are threatened with extreme poverty. Learn more and find how to live rent free.

Case management, job finding, and counseling

Individuals who receive assistance from the government, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, can receive a number of free services that can help them get back on their feet. This service will help them become self sufficient over the long term. As it is very likely that a section 8 voucher will expire after a certain number of months or years.

Most states offer individuals a Family Self-sufficiency Program, and this is a major component of the section 8 government housing vouchers. It is so common that the service is often mandated. Participants in the self-sufficiency program can receive free services that range from credit repair to help finding employment or grants to pay for educational or job training. Read more on how this Family Self-sufficiency Program can help clients deal with a financial hardship.





Government housing vouchers for the disabled - Section 811

If you are disabled, or have a member of your household who is, then another federal government housing assistance program known as Section 811 may be able to help. This benefit will provide you with vouchers to pay your rent or security deposits for handicap accessible apartments. The program is funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but is is administered by local public housing authorities and non-profits. Find more details on housing assistance for disabled.

Senior and elderly rent assistance and housing vouchers

Another federal government Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded program known as Section 202 is focused on low income senior citizens and the elderly. It can also support their caregivers or spouses if they have one. This housing assistance program can help seniors pay their rent and other costs. It is similar to other benefits in that a local PHA will offer free vouchers that can be applied towards monthly rental expenses. Other Section 202 services will help seniors with paying for their basic needs and living expenses. Find details on senior housing from section 202.

Housing for victims of domestic violence

Many of the public housing agencies also have information on the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program. The federal government provides grants or funds to states, community action agencies, and PHAs so that individuals who have been abused, including single women and parents, can receive emergency rent. It also supports their children if they have them. The client is given Section 8 vouchers and/or emergency housing assistance, as well as related self-sufficiency services. Domestic violence housing can support anyone who is facing this serious issue, whether women, children, or immigrants.

Security deposits and first months rent for Section 8 housing

While the rules can vary by jurisdiction and state, in most cases this expense is not covered. The section 8 housing choice voucher program will generally not pay for a tenants security deposit, but as noted this can vary by state and funding levels. But there may be resources that can offer help.

While the landlord may not always charge this fee to low income families with a Section 8 HUD voucher, when they do it can sometimes be difficult for the renter to come up with the needed cash to make this payment. It is even more challenging to raise this money when they also need to pay first or last months rent in addition to that cost.

There are some different assistance programs and financial resources that may be able to help a section 8 recipient pay any security deposits being charged to them. The funds may also help them turn on their utility service as well. Learn more about the rules on this, and some of the options available. The funds are not common, but they may be an option, and find how to apply for section 8 security deposit help.





Tenant Based Rent Assistance Programs

This is another program, often called TBRA, that is funded by HUD. It too will offer a subsidy to very low income families or those living in poverty. The program is administered at the local level. Funds are distributed to the working poor as well as needy from non-profits, charities, and local government agencies. HUD provided grants and loans can pay for various housing expenses. Click here for more information on TBRA, or ask about it when you apply for Section 8 housing assistance.

Information on section 8 housing programs by state and where to apply near you

Select your state below. All of the Section 8 Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) are listed by city, county, and region. They will offer everything from information on low income, rent subsidized apartments to how to get applications for Housing Choice Vouchers. Note most areas do have long waiting lists for this HUD funded program. There is also a customer support center set up for anyone that has further questions or that needs referrals, and that phone number is (800) 955-2232.



























New Hampshire

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New Mexico

New York


North Carolina

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Rhode Island

South Carolina

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West Virginia


There are other options for income subsidized housing as well as well as section 8 application sites. In general, the applicant needs to be close to or have an income below federal government poverty guidelines for these HUD programs. Find details and lists on additional application sites.

By Jon McNamara

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