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Your Guide to "Section 8" Rentals

What is a “Section 8” Rent?

Also known as “housing choice voucher program,” section 8 houses are part of the Housing Act of 1937, which the government’s idea to assist low-income families, elderly, and/or the disabled, with an affordable house that meets safety and sanitary requirements for housing.

Those who qualify for this program are able to pick their own house, apartment, or townhouse, as long as it meets the requirements of the program and not limited to units in housing project areas.

The housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the public housing agencies on behalf of the family that is using the program. The difference between the amount owed and paid by the PHA is then paid by the family. Under extreme circumstances, the PHA may allow the family to use the voucher to purchase a “modest” home.

Who qualifies for this program?

Anyone who:

  • Total annual gross incom - family does not make more than 50% of the median annual gross income of families in the county or the area that the family chooses to live in
  • The number of people in the family household
  • US citizens and some non-citizens depending on immigration status

How do you apply?

Contact your local PHA office.

What would happen?

  • The PHA will gather information in regards to the family’s gross income, family profile, and assets
  • The PHA will then confirm the information with the family’s bank, employer, and other local agencies
  • They will contact you and issue you a voucher
  • If the PHA does not help you immediately, they will put you on a waiting list - those who qualify for the local PHA special preferences will be up higher on the waiting list

How does the voucher work?

  • The PHA will calculate a standard amount for the family depending on their income and the local housing market
  • The family can select a house that is below or above the standard - must pay the additional amount if it is above the standard limit
  • The family must also pay 30% of its income on rent and utilities
  • By law, the family should not be using 40% of their income on rent and utilities

What happens when you move? Will you be able to receive the vouchers still?

As long as you notify the PHA ahead of time, end the lease within the leasing contract, and found an acceptable new home that qualifies for the program.

Your Job (the Tenant) v. The Landlord’s Job

  • Yours: the family is required to stay with the contract and the home for at least a year (the family may move or continue with the month-to-month lease)
  • Theirs: provide housing that is under good condition, safe, and sanitary under reasonable rent
  • Yours: keep the home under good conditions
  • Theirs: must pass the quality standards set up by the PHA
  • Yours: pay the amount you are required to on time
  • Theirs: provide services needed for the tenant listed in the contract
  • Yours: notify the PHA for any changes that occurs in the family  


Get more information on “Section 8” at: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/housing_choice_voucher_program_section_

Joseph M. Ghabour
Auto, Bus, Pedestrian, Motorcycle accident, medical malpractice and worker's compensation attorney.

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