The Housing Choice Voucher Program offers housing assistance through Section 8 via local housing authorities (PHAs).
Income is one of the most important factors that determine your eligibility.
Section 8 is designed for low-income families, but can you qualify without an income?
What Is Section 8 Housing?
Section 8 of the Housing Choice Voucher Program allows low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly to afford high-quality housing. Felons that meet all the requirements are also eligible for Section 8 housing.
A Section 8 voucher enables you to find your own housing, including apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes.
You’re free to choose a property that meets program requirements, and you’re not limited to homes in subsidized areas.
The only condition is that the owner is willing to rent under this program. Housing authorities require you to pay 30%-40% of your income to your landlord, and the authorities finance the rest.
Can You Get Section 8 With No Income?
The good news is that you can get Section 8 even if you don’t have income from a job.
There isn’t a minimum you have to earn to qualify for this program – the most important requirement is that your earnings are below 50% of the area median income.
You must notify the authorities immediately if you lose your income during your program. You won’t lose your Section 8 in this case, either.
In fact, your contribution to the rent will drop to zero.
However, Section 8 rights can be taken away for other reasons:
-Violating the obligations of the program by providing inaccurate information or failing to provide the requested information to your PHAs
-Alcohol abuse or criminal activity
-Violent or drug-related criminal activity
-Failure to make timely rent payments
-Not keeping gas, water, electricity, and other utilities active on the property
-Missing inspections or recertification appointments
-Allowing unapproved individuals to live in the house (the PHAs must approve every tenant)
-Being evicted or living in other units not certified by the PHAs
How To Qualify For Section 8 Housing
Knowing you can qualify for Section 8 is helpful, but you should understand all the considerations that determine your eligibility:
As previously discussed, income is the central factor authorities consider when processing your Section 8 application.
When analyzing your application, PHAs will request your household income from all sources, like:
-Hourly wages and overtime pay
-Child support and alimony
-Retirement fund withdrawals
-Welfare, pension, disability, veterans, and Social Security benefits
-Interest made from investment
The last thing you want is to misrepresent yourself to PHAs. Report all sources of income to improve your chances of approval.
Did you know? Any lottery winnings must also be reported to PHAs.
Qualifying for the Section 8 housing assistance program requires your household to meet the PHAs’ definition of a family. Here’s what may fall under this category:
Disabled family – Your household has at least one member with a disability.
Family with or without children – There are multiple household members, but you may or may not have children.
Elderly family – At least one of your household members is over 62.
Displaced family – All family members have been removed from your home due to governmental action, a natural disaster, or severe damage to the property.
Remaining member of your tenant family – This person is a member of a family that currently receives voucher assistance. However, they remain in their home after other members have moved out.
College students are rarely considered eligible for Section 8. That said, there are a few exceptions:
Full-time college students who are at least 24.
Full-time married college students
Full-time professional graduate students
Full-time college students who were orphaned or wards of a court until they turned 18
Full-time college students who are emancipated minors
Full-time college students who are U.S. veterans or on active duty
Full-time college students with dependents
Full-time college students with a disability
Although the Federal Housing Authority has general guidelines, it’s also instructed local PHAs to expand the qualifications as applicable. Therefore, consult your local PHA to find out if you qualify.
The primary purpose of the Section 8 program is to help low-income families find safe housing. The PHA is less likely to accept you if you have a criminal record, especially if you or one of your household members has committed a crime in the past five years.
Here are a couple of groups who aren’t entitled to Section 8 assistance:
Registered sex offenders
Drug-related criminals (e.g., producing methamphetamine, illegal drug users, those who jeopardize their household or persons close to them with drug abuse)
Another requirement you must fulfill to qualify for Section 8 is to have U.S. citizenship. Alternatively, you must provide proof of your immigration status to receive rent assistance payments.
Some authorities may ask you to show your Social Security card, Green Card, or U.S. passport when submitting your application.
Moreover, you might need to sign a statement that all household members are American citizens.
Some areas also request copies of birth certificates for children in your household. If you can’t prove your immigration status or citizenship, you can receive housing assistance under mixed family programs.
However, the amount received will be lower than for families whose members are U.S. citizens or can prove their immigration status.
Your Section 8 PHA wants to ensure you comply with tenant rules and regulations. To do so, they’ll go through your housing records by talking to your previous landlords.
Some details they may discuss include whether or not you met your obligations on time and the conditions in which you left the place.
One of the red flags PHAs look for is eviction history. If they find out a landlord has evicted you from their property within the past 36 months, they may not accept your Section 8 application.
This is especially true if you’ve been evicted for drug-related crimes.
Most PHAs maintain that you need to live within their jurisdiction to qualify for Section 8 within the area.
If your local PHA has the same requirement, you’ll need to submit paperwork validating your residency.
This can be your utility bills or official mail received at your address.
Did you know? Changing your residence requires you to update the information on your driver’s license and other essential documents.
Not Having Income Isn’t an Obstacle to Section 8 Housing
Many situations can disqualify you from Section 8, but having no income from a job isn’t one of them. You shouldn’t have trouble getting housing assistance if you meet the other criteria.
Just make sure to abide by all the requirements throughout your tenancy. Otherwise, you may lose the right to your assisted renting.