What is Section 8 Voucher and how it works?

Section 8 voucher carries the following attributes.

  1. It’s a Government’s help for people to afford decent and reasonable residence.
  2. HUD – Housing and Urban Development takes care of the Section 8 assistance.
  3. The Government’s assistance is provided in private rental market.
  4. Section 8 voucher is a subsidy for paying rent. It’s designed for low-income families.
  5. This subsidy leads to a decrease in rental expenses for the tenant. However, tenant is responsible to find a landlord that accepts section 8 voucher.
  6. The amount of subsidy under voucher 8 is dependent on the family’s income, areas of residence and multiple other factors.

How does Section 8 voucher work?

When we speak about Section 8 voucher relief, there are three parties involved in the process that include the following,

  1. Local PHA – Public Housing Authority – this authority directly supervises overall process. It gets funds from HUD – the US Department for Housing and urban development. The authority enters in a contract with the landlord and pays them the rent portion on behalf of the tenant that qualified for the Voucher 8 program.
  2. Landlord – He/she is an owner of the house (private individual).
  3. Tenant – He/she gets the house on rent. If they have a Section 8 voucher, the PHA pays a portion of the rent to the landlord.

It’s important to note that qualified tenant is required to pay at least 30% of their income in rent and utilities. Hence, amount of Section 8 vouchers paid by PHA is different for different tenants depending on their family size, amount of rent, and area of residence etc.

Flexibility for the participants

Section 8 assistance is flexible and participants are free to choose where they want to live. However, a rental property must meet the program’s requirements and landlord (owner of the house) must be willing to participate in the program. The will of landlord is important because they directly receive a portion of the rent from PHA –Public Housing Authority.

The bar to finding rental property/landlord is on the tenant. Once the voucher holder finds a suitable rental property, the housing authority responsible for administering the program inspects the unit to ensure it meets certain quality and safety standards. If the property passes inspection, the housing authority enters into a contract with the landlord and provides rental assistance payments directly to the landlord on behalf of the voucher holder.

However, there is a massive demand for Section 8 vouchers that leads to higher waiting times. Further, each housing authority maintains its own record of the application. So, it’s not feasible to estimate the number of days required to get an assistance voucher. Further, waiting time varies in line with authority, funds, and demands in the area.

Eligibility of the Section 8 assistance program

Following is the general eligibility criteria for the Section 8 program.  

  1. The annual gross family income of the family should be limited.
  2. House quality standard inspection should be passed.
  3. Should be a US citizen.
  4. Must meet HUD definition of family.
  5. Eviction history must be clear.

Benefits of Section 8 voucher

The Section 8 assistance voucher carries the following benefits.

  1. It helps families to afford housing.
  2. It’s designed to help low-income families. So, they can live a quality life.
  3. The program is highly flexible. However, there is a need to pass a background check and other assessments.

For detailed benefits, please read, Section-8 benefits.


Section 8 assistance program is designed to help low-income families in paying rent. In order to qualify for Section 8 assistance, low-income families are required to meet certain qualification criteria.

The program is flexible. However, the Section 8 voucher holder is required to find the rental property that accepts this voucher.

The public housing authority – PHA regulates the overall process for Section 8 eligibility and other aspects. PHA is funded by HUD which is the government’s body to regulate and develop the population in cities.

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