In the 1930’s the Federal Government created a housing assistance program because of the financial problems caused by the Great Depression. This program was designed to assist families who were struggling financially and who needed help. This marked the beginning of the HUD program, or the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the area of the government that manages this and similar programs today. Since the 30’s, more and more programs have been developed that help build low-income housing and to help families subsidize their rent when they are considered low income.
The Housing and Community Development Act was passed in 1974 by Congress in order to assist those who are in financial dire with rent payments. This program, known commonly as Section 8, provides subsidies to individuals and families who can only give 30% of their income to their rent payment. The federal government then pays the rest directly to the landlord. Each state receives a specific number of Section 8 units based on how much funding is available that year.
Housing Voucher Program
The Housing Voucher Program was developed to assist those who are low income, elderly or disabled find safe, clean housing that they can afford. Any recipient of a housing voucher will be in charge of finding their own residence to live in. These vouchers are good for apartments, townhouses, or single family homes, whichever dwelling best fits the needs of the individual or family. The Housing Authority is responsible for determining the eligibility of a person or family. Only citizens of the United States and non-citizens who have eligible immigration status can apply for housing vouchers from the state.
The Housing Authority will verify all assets, income, and family members listed on the applications they receive, as well as the immigration status of all involved. Any employers, family members, and banks will be contacted during the process to be interviewed. This research is necessary if you wish to qualify for the program. It also helps determine how much of the subsidy you or your family will receive.
The Housing Voucher program is always in high demand and even if you are approved for it, you will more than likely be placed on a long waiting list until your funds are available. This is very common all over the country. When the funds for your home become available, the Housing Authority will get in contact with you and issue a voucher.
However, the Housing Authority does maintain the right to push an individual to the top of the program based on their current need. These reasons often include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Families that are homeless or living in dangerous, substandard housing
• Families paying more than 50% of their gross income towards their rent
• Families that have been displaced from their home, such as from a natural disaster
All housing must first be approved by the Housing Authority and must meet every requirement placed by the program for safety and sanitation. All landlords will be in charge of submitting their properties to the local housing authority for inspection. Once the housing is approved by the program, the voucher will be given to the recipient.
Landlords are never required to accept a Section 8 voucher. Many landlords do not want to work with federal agencies, while others don’t understand how the program works. However, there are typically landlords in every geographical area who are willing to work with Section 8 housing. All recipients must make sure that their landlord is willing to participate in the program before they can move in with a voucher.
If you have any changes in income or the size of your family increases, be sure to let the Housing Authority know right away. The program is diligent in maintaining fraud control and failure to report these changes could result in your removal from the program. Unauthorized guests who stay for an extended period of time may not be permitted, so be sure to check into the laws of your state before allowing visitors to stay.
You can apply for these housing benefits and others online. Go to Benefits.gov for links and for more information on other available grant opportunities.