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Low-income individuals or families may qualify for a housing voucher through the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 8 program. If you qualify for a housing voucher, you can rent a home or apartment at fair market rates. However, not just anyone can qualify for Section 8. HUD screening criteria apply, and you cannot qualify for the program if you do not meet the requirements. If you want to receive a Section 8 housing voucher, here are the requirements you must meet.
To qualify for a housing voucher under Section 8, you must either have eligible immigrant status or be a citizen of the United States. In either case, you will have to sign a declaration attesting to your status. If you have eligible immigrant status, you will be asked to provide documentation to prove it.
2. Family Status
You can qualify for Section 8 as an individual or a family unit. The Public Housing Authority handling your claim has the authority to define a family with guidance provided by HUD. It may be that even if you meet the eligibility requirements for a housing voucher, someone in your family unit may not. This does not necessarily preclude you from receiving assistance, but it may affect the amount you can receive.
3. Eviction History
If you have a history of eviction from a previous dwelling, you may still be able to qualify for Section 8 housing. However, if the reason for your eviction was a drug-related criminal offense and occurred within the last three years, you cannot receive a Section 8 voucher. You also do not qualify if you have a history of conviction for producing methamphetamine in an assisted housing project.
4. Income Level
Because the purpose of Section 8 is to provide housing to people who would have difficulty affording it otherwise, your income must be at or below a certain level to be eligible for a voucher. The exact level is based partially on the median income in the area, so it varies by location. HUD recognizes the following three levels:
- Low Income: 80% of the median income in the area
- Very Low Income: 50% of the area's median income
- Extremely Low income: 30% of the area's median income
Income level depends on many other factors as well, including salary, benefits, and family size. When determining eligibility for housing vouchers under Section 8, HUD gives priority to individuals and families at the extremely low-income level.