The Housing Choice Voucher Program (commonly Section 8) is a federally funded program assisting those low-income households who are either homeless o living in very low-quality housing or paying a major portion of their monthly income for rent. Those qualifying can receive a voucher that pays a major part of the rent for a private housing unit and the rest is paid by the participant of the program himself. Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) deal with a huge demand for assistance but with limited resources, many eligible families and individuals find the place on a waiting list managed by individual PHAs.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) had laid down the eligibility criteria and rules for the poor masses to obtain this critical support and also plays the role to oversee the process of distribution of the housing benefits. To even be considered for receiving a voucher, the individual must meet four basic standards which include their family status, income level, and citizenship and eviction history.
Here is the list of conditions that can hamper someone’s qualification for receiving this housing assistance.
- FAMILY STRUCTURE
While Section 8 only aims to support families, but the program’s definition of “family” is somewhat different. A family does not only mean married people with children or a household of relatives. An individual living alone can qualify for assistance. Families with elderly or disabled members under the care of a live-in aid or who are heads of the house or spouses can be eligible; an elderly or disabled person may live alone and qualify as a family. In any case, however, unrelated occupants are not eligible unless they can prove a significant relationship.
The proceeds limits will also fluctuate based on the number of people in the family. Income limits are calculated for families containing anywhere from one to eight individuals. Exceedingly low-income for an individual maybe $15,000 a year, but for a household with eight members, $30,000 annually may be an extremely low-income level.
If a family’s monthly income is 50 percent of the median income for the locale its living is generally considered eligible for the housing vouchers but the public housing authority for a particular community can brief that family whether their income qualifies for assistance. Many such households, who meet the 50 percent ceiling, might have narrow chances to get Section 8 housing. Federal regulations keep three of every four admissions (over 75 percent) for those whose income is 30 percent or even less of the area’s average income. But to qualify for a housing choice voucher, a family’s yearly income must be below a certain amount.
- FRONT OF THE LINE
Preferential clauses may also prove the largest hurdle to Section 8 housing for the majority of those declared non-eligible or those finding a place in long waiting lists. PHAs establish what classes of applicants get priority in gaining housing vouchers. It again varies from state to state and authority to authority.
Those people who were forced to evacuate certain areas due to natural or man-made calamity, a government-enforced evacuation, etc. have more chances to be moved up in the waiting list.
o CRIMINAL BACKGROUND
As a rule and a mandatory practice, the housing agency conducts a criminal background check of those who qualify. Federal law forbids Section 8 vouchers for those registered as sex offenders or who were convicted of making methamphetamine in public housing. Usually, a record of illegal drug use denies you of this housing assistance, even if the PHA or landlord has the flexibility to admit those who have received substance abuse treatment.
Section 8 providers may reject an application on many grounds. If the screening shows that the applicant may not be an appropriate tenant, such as a criminal record, the application may be denied. If a criminal activity does reflect in a background screening, however, justifying circumstances are considered. A range of past convictions can be overlooked if the applicants can show that they will not pose a health or safety threat to the other residents.
- CITIZENSHIP STATUS
Section 8 assistance is meant to offer housing vouchers will only to American citizens or to those who have appropriate immigrant status. It does not make those extremely poor folks qualified if they had been living in the United States illegally for a long period. To determine whether someone has an eligible immigrant status, Exhibit 5-1 in HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Guidebook is referred.
There is an exception for families with a mix of eligible and non-eligible individuals (not having eligible immigrant status) who can still be granted housing assistance. Nonetheless, the amount of assistance they will receive will be calculated on the proportion of family members who are eligible for housing assistance.
o Eviction History
Section 8 vouchers will not be offered to anyone who:
- Has been driven out from a property within the last three years for drug-related criminal activity or who has been convicted of producing methamphetamine in an assisted housing project.
Individuals not meeting the above standards are not eligible to receive a Section 8 voucher. In addition to these, each PHA could have its own individual laws that govern family assurance. Even if a family meets the above criteria, housing vouchers can be denied if that particular household family has violated any of these family requirements. Like Massachusetts, laws deny housing benefits to those who;
- Have bothered a neighbor or neighbors in a prior residence and still reported to have behavior that would substantially interfere with the rights of other tenants or the rights of housing authority employees.
- Have seriously damaged the property at a prior residence.
- Have exhibited living habits of poor tidiness at a prior residence which would pose a significant threat to your health or safety.
- Have a history of nonpayment of their share of the rent or habitually delaying it.
In addition to the above-mentioned rules if the information provided by the individual or family at the stage of applying and were entitled to receive the housing vouchers, proved incorrect or forged, can not only be stripped of their benefits but can also face fine or imprisonment as per federal laws.