Many households spend more than they can afford on housing costs. How much rent you can take on is dependent on your personal finances. According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) no more than 30% of your gross income should go towards housing costs. These expenses don’t just include rent either! You also need to factor in utilities as well. If you are having a hard time making your rent each month, you may want to consider getting your housing costs down. One option is to apply for federal housing assistance.
How the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) Works
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federal housing assistance program that helps low-income families, elderly, and disabled individuals. Qualifying recipients can get access to affordable, decent, safe, and sanitary housing. The unique part about Section 8 is that recipients find their own rental to live in on the private market. The housing assistance is offered through vouchers that cover a portion of rent costs for eligible households. Unfortunately, the funding that Section 8 receives is limited. As a result, there are plenty of eligible households that aren’t able to receive assistance or wait a long time before getting a voucher.
Whatever a recipient’s voucher does not cover is the responsibility of the tenant to pay. The amount of a voucher varies depending on an applicant’s finances and household size. In addition to those factors, the average rent rate in an area can make a difference.
If you’re interested in receiving a voucher, you should speak to someone at the public housing authority (PHA) near you. Although the federal government funds Section 8, the program is administered locally. As a result, eligibility varies depending on where you’re applying. Don’t hesitate to apply as soon as you’re ready. Approved applicants wait an average of two years before they receive the housing assistance they need.
Different Aspects of Section 8 Housing Assistance
We stated previously that Section 8 recipients find their own rental property to live in. This part of the program can be considered both a benefit and a downfall. This is because not every property is eligible for voucher holders. Landlords need to agree to accept vouchers as partial payment in order for a qualifying family to live there. Available properties are greatly limited because not every landlord wants to deal with vouchers. To combat this issue, Section 8 provides various incentives to rental property owners.
Whereas, the flexibility to choose where to live can benefit Section 8 recipients because it enables them the ability to move to better neighborhoods. Higher-opportunity areas are associated with lower rates of violent crime. Not only that, there is often increased access to public transportation and more high paying jobs. Families with children can also benefit from better school systems. All of these aspects can lead to a healthier and more stable future for low-income households.
Comparing the Advantages and Disadvantages of Section 8
The challenges faced by recipients of Section 8 can be difficult to overcome, and often lead to delays in getting valuable assistance. Despite the difficulties, there are still quite a few positive aspects of the program.
Disadvantages to Keep in Mind
Before we mentioned that one challenge Section 8 recipients run into is finding a suitable rental unit. In addition to that, other disadvantages to consider are:
- Complicated application process: Completing an application can be time consuming and confusing. Even after the application is complete, there may be other hoops the PHA asks you to go through.
- Limited voucher availability: One of the main downfalls is the incredibly high demand for affordable housing. There is not nearly enough funding to provide a voucher to everyone who needs one. Therefore, eligible households can wait months to years for assistance.
Do the Advantages Outweigh the Disadvantages?
Ultimately, that is up to each individual household to decide. Every family has different needs, while dealing with their own financial situation. However, Section 8 has been able to significantly reduce housing insecurity for those that qualify. The program’s advantages include:
- Ability to move to areas with a higher average cost of rent: Recipients are able to decide where they want to live. Therefore, families can make the decision to move to a higher-opportunity area. Great neighborhoods often have a higher cost of rent. Without a Section 8 voucher, qualifying households may not have been able to afford to move to safer areas.
- Potential to achieve a better financial future: Moving to a higher-opportunity neighborhood can mean additional job prospects. In addition to that, the financial relief of the voucher can open up a household’s budget for other necessities.
Section 8 Vouchers Can Help You Buy a Home!
Eligible current voucher holders can use their rental assistance to build their future! The Homeownership Voucher Program allows vouchers to be used towards mortgage payments, property taxes, and other related expenses. There are certain eligibility requirements for this program. First, the applicant should be a new homeowner or not have owned in the past three years. In addition to that, the program mandates the applicant complete a homeowner counseling program.
The Housing Choice Voucher program offers needed rental assistance to qualifying families and individuals. The program works by distributing vouchers that cover housing expenses like rent. How much a voucher is worth is dependent on the applicant’s personal situation. However, you can expect that factors such as your income and family status are taken into consideration. The private housing market also affects the amount. Recipients of Section 8 pay the remainder of their housing expenses that aren’t covered by the voucher.
There are quite a few benefits to receiving Section 8. Households can expect to lower their risk of housing insecurity, as well as create a more stable financial future. However, there are limited properties that accept vouchers. In addition to that, there isn’t not enough funding to provide all eligible households assistance when they need it. As a result, some applicants wait months or years before getting their voucher. Despite the downfalls, if you are struggling to make ends meet, you want to consider any help that you can get. Contact your local PHA to find out if you might be eligible for Section 8.