The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly known as Section 8, gives qualifying applicants a voucher which covers part of that person’s rent. If you participate in the Section 8 program you must find your own living space with a landlord who is willing to accept the Section 8 voucher. You are free to live in any apartment, condominium, townhouse or single family home where the landlord accepts the voucher. If the landlord agrees, then you enter into a rental contract with the landlord and the HA.
When you have a Section 8 voucher, you are free to move as needed as long as you contact your local HA and inform them of your situation prior to moving.
Eligibility and your portion of rent responsibility are based partially on income. Applicants for the Section 8 program are required to submit to a thorough background check and only US citizens and specific categories of non-citizens are eligible.
As with public housing, tenants in Section 8 housing are given extra protections that are not usually included in a standard private rental agreement. Section 8 tenants also have certain responsibilities unique to participants in the program. Because of this, it is important that you understand what these rights and responsibilities are before you enter into a contract.
If you are accepted to the Section 8 program but the HA is experiencing a wait for new members, your name may be added to a waiting list. The local HA has the freedom to open or close its waiting list as needed. The local HA is also free to establish preferences for people on the wait list.
If you are denied a Section 8 voucher, you have the right to challenge this denial. The HA must:
- Notify you of the denial in writing,
- Tell you the reason for the denial; and,
- Give you the opportunity for an informal hearing.
IMPORTANT NOTE: An eviction from your Section 8 housing can have a serious impact on your future eligibility for this program. If you are in danger of being evicted from Section 8 housing, call the Legal Services for the Elderly Helpline at 1-800-750-5353 to speak to an attorney for free.