What is Section 8 Housing

Section 8 housing is a project of US Housing and Urban Development department aimed at providing rental accommodation to needy people. This department pays rents and utility bills to private landlords on behalf of low-income group tenants registered under various programs run by this department. Most popular program is Housing Choice Voucher Program. This program allows availing maximum ticket size of $2200 per month.

Section 8 housing was started to combat housing crisis arose during the Great Depression. Several programs were launched for helping low-income to medium-income households to pay the house rent. Under Section 8 several programs were launched related to new construction, rehabilitation and existing housing voucher schemes.

Congress has shown considerable sensitivity towards the problem of major chunk of income of people being siphoned off in the name of the rent. So, the Government introduced subsidized rate concept to handle this problem. Also, concept of rent sharing was introduced where tenant was to pay 30% of the amount and the rest was paid by the Government under the amendment of U.S. Housing.

Section 8 housing was also modified to provide shelter to homeless people and those who were veterans of US armed forces. The program launched for this section was called VASH (Veterans Administration Supported Housing).

Section 8 housing can aptly be called home-for –all- project at affordable price. Currently, the Program is shaped as voucher program. Voucher can either be project-based or tenant-based. Public Housing Agencies (PHA) may reserve 20% vouchers as such. In project- based, certain units of housing are leased as per the project specification; in tenant-based voucher program, tenant is free to chose house anywhere without restrictions.

Section 8 housing programs are phased out time-to-time and new programs are added to meet the changing scenario. Latest was Project-based Certificate program launched in 1991.Section 8 tenant enjoys the protection of Fair Market Rate (FMR). Tenant cannot be charged more than FMR. Housing and Urban Development sets FMR as per the given conditions.

Refusing a tenant just because he is registered under section 8 is illegal. Landlords do not show interest sometimes due to detailed checking of premises by the department before leasing. They consider it invasion of privacy. Some landlords however find it suitable to lease out the property for programs of section 8 to ensure availability of renters. Assured rent payments also attract landlords to be the part of housing scheme.

Waiting time for Section 8 housing vouchers is long. It varies from three to six years. Priority is given to elderly, disabled, veterans and local residents. There is no guarantee of receiving spot even if you are registered in waiting list due to long queue. Some lists are so overloaded that they are closed for new applicants.

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