The Section 8 Voucher program allows low-income, retired, or disabled individuals and families to receive an economic subsidy to pay for the rent of their homes.
Also known as the Section 8 Housing Rental Voucher Program, the aid allows the tenant to choose the home they want to rent, as long as it meets the minimum health and safety standards established by law, and the owner is in agreement. agree to participate in the program.
Also, once the voucher is approved, the tenant can use it to rent another home in the future, even in another state.
Key Points: Voucher Section 8 for housing rental
- The tenants selected to receive the help of the Section 8 Voucher can choose their homes freely. They can also move without losing aid and even change status.
- The amount of the Section 8 housing voucher is determined according to several factors, among which the place where the house is located and its size stand out.
- Families with a mixed immigration regime can benefit from this help, but the amount of the subsidy is calculated without taking into account members without status.
- Immigration effects: it can be a negative factor in family petitions through the consular process and since February 24, 2022, in many of the adjustment of status petitions. within the United States.
- Benefits: Those who receive this type of housing assistance may qualify to waive some of the USCIS immigration fees.
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, known in English as Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, is administered by HUD and implemented by housing authorities & Local Housing Authority (PHA).
How is the amount of rental assistance determined in the Section 8 Voucher program?
To set the amount of monthly aid that can be received, the following factors are taken into account:
- The amount set as Fair Market Rent
- Standard payment
- Tenant's Share
- Allowance for essential services
Fair Market Rent
The first step is to establish the fair market rent in the voucher applicant's residence. To do this, HUD annually sets the fair market rental rate in more than 2,500 areas. This amount varies depending on the area of the country and the size of the home.
According to the tax year 2022 figures, The two-bedroom flat or house cost in Abilene, Texas, will be $864/month. However, in San Francisco, California, it is $3,339.
Once HUD has established the fair market rent, the PHA refines that amount based on variations within the same area. The final amount can range from 90 to 110 per cent of the fair market rent set by HUD.
Part of the tenant
The tenant must collaborate to pay the rent. His contribution must be the higher of any of the following:
- 30 per cent of your monthly adjusted income, that is, less statutory deductions
- 10 per cent of your gross monthly income
- The minimum amount set by law
For example, a family that would be entitled to a two-bedroom home in an area with a fair market rent of $863 and an income of $20,000 gross per year could use the following calculations:
Starting at $20,000 gross per year: income must be divided by 12 months to obtain $1,666 gross/month. 10 per cent of that amount is $166.
Starting from $20,000 gross per year fewer deductions: taking into account deductions of $8,000, for example, $12,000 per year/net is obtained. Which translates to $1,000 month/net. 30 Percent of that amount is $300.
Since $300 is more than $166, the family's contribution to their rent is $300. The difference between $863, which is the fair market rent, and the family's $300 contribution, or $563, would be paid by the voucher.
Expenses for essential services
As a final consideration, we consider the cost of utilities such as gas and electricity. Rental expenses are calculated separately from the help if they are not included in the rental price.
In exceptional cases, tenants are allowed to rent a home at a price higher than the fair market rent. In these cases, the tenant must bear that extra expense and the total cost of the rent cannot exceed 40 per cent of their net income.
Who can apply for Section 8 rental assistance?
Four categories of requirements must be taken into account: family status, economic income, history of eviction and immigration status.
For Section 8, a family can be comprised of a single person or a group of people where at least one of the following requirements is met:
- presence of children
- Any person in a family of age either 62 or more than it
- Any member of the family suffering from a disability
- The person or group of people has been displaced from their home, for example, by a hurricane, tornado, fire, or another natural or government-recognized disaster
- This is a person who remains in a dwelling that already had Section 8, although the other tenants who made up their family group have left
Financial requirements to receive help from Section 8
Individuals and families with annual incomes can benefit from Section 8:
- Extremely low (30% of median income in a given area)
- Very low (50% of median income in a given area)
- Low (80% of median income in a given area)
In approving applications, preference is given to the lowest over the lowest income.
HUD is the agency in charge of setting said income for the different areas of the country, taking into account the size of the family unit. The results obtained when considering these two factors indicate very different income levels when it comes to qualifying to apply for Section 8.
For example, in Abilene, Texas, where the median income is $62,900, a one-person household is considered extraordinarily low income below $13,200, very low below $22,050, and low below $35,250.
However, in San Francisco, California, where the median income is $136,800, the same household of one person qualifies as extraordinarily low income with less than $33,850 a year, is considered very low income with less than $56,450, and with low income if less than $90,450 annually.
As income is computed, among others: salary, overtime, tips, commissions, alimony to ex-spouse — alimony, in English — child support — child support —, retirement checks, dividends for savings, unemployment, lottery, welfare, disability pension, etc.
It should be noted that any father or mother who lives with their children can go to the state social services to claim child support if it is not received and it is believed that they are entitled to receive it.
Anyone who has been previously evicted for any of the following reasons is prohibited by law from receiving a Section 8 subsidy:
- Methamphetamine production in a home that is a public project
- For having committed a drug-related crime in the last three years
In addition, landlords can request a credit and criminal background check and can turn down a tenant because of criminal history or bad credit.
US citizens who meet all of the above requirements can benefit from the Section 8 program but must sign a document ensuring that all members of their family are citizens or permanent residents.
In the case of families with mixed immigration status, citizens can apply for the voucher, but these circumstances are taken into account when determining the amount of aid.
In addition, the following categories of migrants are also entitled to apply for Section 8, if they meet the other requirements:
- Lawful permanent residents
- Asylees and refugees
- Conditional residents, such as spouses of citizens in some cases
- Beneficiaries of the T visa for human trafficking and the VAWA program
- Cubans and Haitians who entered with parole, as in the case of Dry Feet, Wet Feet
- withdrawal removal _
- Nationals of the Marshall Islands, Palau, Marianas and Guam
Migrants must show documentation that proves their status and must sign a document authorizing their verification.
As with citizens, migrants can apply for Section 8 even if not all members of their household have a status that allows them to qualify.
Immigration Consequences of Applying for Section 8
Permanent residents can accept Section 8 relief without it negatively affecting their future application for US citizenship through naturalization.
As for residents and citizens petitioning for a family member, currently receiving this aid does not affect petitions made through adjustment of status.
However, it can be a negative factor in the case of petitions in which the consular procedure is followed since the Department of State can apply the new rules on public charge.
It should be noted that Section 8 may be a point to be taken into account by the consular officer, as well as bankruptcy filings or credit scores.
However, the enjoyment of a public benefit, a bad credit score, or a previous declaration of bankruptcy is not enough to cause the non-approval of a green card. In other words, the consular officer considers the application as a whole and not just one aspect of it.
How do you apply for Section 8?
Applicants must also submit all required documents and undergo an in-person interview. The tenant and landlord sign a contract if the application is approved.
Waiting lists are common in some areas; it is even possible that the lists are closed at certain times.
Other rental assistance programs
The federal government, states, counties, and municipalities, as well as nonprofit organizations, have other rental assistance programs, including:
- Publicly owned housing
- Subsidies for rent in rural areas
- Rental subsidies for military and veterans
- Section 8 for homes exclusively in Projects (Project-Based Rental Assistance).
The latter is characterized by the fact that the aid is linked to a certain property, unlike what happens with the Voucher program, where the aid is linked to the family unit.