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What You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing

Section 8 Housing

The Section 8 Act of 1937 is a landmark piece of legislation that has helped millions of Americans find affordable housing for more than 80 years. Currently, it offers rental housing assistance for almost 5 million Americans, but the ins and outs of it can be tricky to navigate. It is still an incredibly helpful government program that helps millions of people afford housing every year.

What is Section 8 For?

Section 8 is intended for individuals who are forced to pay an above-average amount of their income for rent. It basically boils down to individuals that the need for a place to live means sacrificing other basic amenities such as food and clothing. These subsidies help such individuals afford housing units.


How Does Section 8 Work?

The main way that Section 8 works is through a voucher system. The vouchers can work in two ways:

  • A “project-based” voucher that is used only within a specific apartment complex.
  • A “tenant-based” voucher where a tenant may choose any unit in the private sector.


Under this program, individuals or families with vouchers may find and lease a unit and pay a portion of the rent. This portion is based on the adjusted income of the tenants and most pay approximately 30% of their adjusted income on rent.

What is Adjusted Income?

The adjusted income of an individual or family is determined through a formula. It is the households total gross income minus deduction for dependents under 18, full-time students, and disabled persons. Age (if elderly) is also a factor, as well as certain disability assistance and medical expenses. This is determined through an asset test that is administered when looking for a property. After income calculations, most Section 8 allowances will subsidize roughly 70% of a person’s rent, reducing the portion they are responsible for to 30% of the total.

Where Can Section 8 be Used?

Section 8 is a federal program, so most Section 8 vouchers can be accepted anywhere in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Residency requirements are a factor, however, so in most states you must live there for 12 months before you can leave. Local states and municipalities have their own rules as well. Another key factor is that income changes (such as a raise or promotion) or changes in living situation (such as having a child) must be reported or they can result in being expelled from the program.

How Do I Find Section 8 Housing?

Individual states have their own pages through the national HUD websitethat offer a wealth of resources for individuals seeking Section 8 assistance. The HUD also has its own pageof detailed guidelines and regulations on you can obtain or keep any Section 8 benefits.

The bottom line is that Section 8 Housing is designed to assist individuals in finding affordable housing anywhere in the country. Many local offices are also available to help with any additional questions you may have.