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What Are the Qualifications for Section 8 Housing?

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  • Written By: S. McNesby
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2014
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The primary qualifications for section 8 housing are related to income; the program is designed to help lower-income families and individuals secure housing. The income level needed to qualify for section 8 will depend on where an individual lives; qualifications vary based on geography and may by higher in some areas than others. The property itself needs to meet certain standards for safety and cleanliness as well.

Factors including the salary earned by the applicant and cost of living for the home's location are used to determine the financial qualifications for section 8 housing. Since some cities are more expensive than others, each geographic area will have its own income limits. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a family should spend no more than 30% of household income on rent. Most state agencies use this 30% figure to determine the section 8 financial qualifications.

The best way to see if an individual or family meets the qualifications for housing is to apply for benefits. Online calculators are available to assist with this process, but the state social services agency that handles Section 8 housing will have the final determination. Families that meet the criteria will be issued vouchers that can be presented to a landlord in lieu of rent each month.

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In addition to the financial qualifications for section 8 housing, the apartment or house chosen needs to meet affordability standards for the area. Section 8 will pay the difference between the fair-market rental value of the home and the amount of money an approved applicant can afford to spend on rent. This figure is determined by subtracting 30% of the applicant's salary from the area's fair-market rental rate; the resulting figure is the dollar amount the applicant can receive from Section 8. If a home exceeds the fair-market standards for the area, it may not be a suitable choice.

Any home used for Section 8 housing needs to be in relatively good shape, with no major health or safety issues. If a home has been used for Section 8 housing before, it will likely be approved for the program again. The only way to know if a home qualifies is to present it to the state social services office and wait for inspection and approval.

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