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Archived News Article: Information may be out of date
January 22, 2020

An Overview of Section 8 Housing Assistance

An Overview of Section 8 Housing Assistance
An Overview of Section 8 Housing Assistance

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, is the federal government’s program for assisting low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly afford housing. Participants can choose housing that meets the requirements of the program and receive housing vouchers to help with their rental costs. provides information on a variety of resources that can help eligible individuals and families find housing assistance, including the requirements for Section 8.

How does Section 8 help with housing costs?

Section 8 housing vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs), who receive funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The local PHA determines the amount of housing assistance a participating family receives and pays the landlord directly on behalf of the family. The family will cover the balance owed for the rent. According to HUD, a participating family must pay at least 30% of its monthly income for rent and utilities. Once approved to participate, the family and landlord will sign a lease and the PHA will sign a contract with the landlord to arrange payments to the landlord on behalf of the family.

Am I eligible?

To receive Section 8 assistance, certain eligibility requirements must be met, including income level, family status, citizenship status, and student status. Each year, HUD sets income limits determined by family size and based on the median income in the area. HUD offers guidance to public housing agencies to consider when determining eligibility for Section 8, which include the following:

  • Income must be either very low income or low-income and meet additional criteria;
  • A household must meet HUD’s definition of a family;
  • Students that do not live with their parents must meet additional criteria; and
  • U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status.

To read more about eligibility requirements, view HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidebook or contact your local PHA.

How do I apply?

To apply for a housing voucher, contact your local PHA. If your application is accepted, you may be put on a waiting list, unless the PHA can assist you right away. For additional help, find your local HUD office.

Where can I find additional help?

If you need housing support, HUD offers a free Resource Locator Tool, where you can view housing resources offered in your state, from local shelter information to guidance on foreclosure prevention. also offers a free pre-screening tool to help you find government assistance you may be eligible to receive. We encourage you to take the Benefit Finder, where you will answer a series of questions to check your eligibility for over 1,000 federal benefits on To find additional housing resources, visit our Housing and Public Utilities category and browse benefits by state.

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