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Who Can Participate in the Section 8 House Choice Voucher Program?

Housing choice vouchers exist to help low-income families better afford a place to live within their community. They're issued by your local public housing agency, working in conjunction with the federal government's Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and they're assigned according to need.

Tenant Requirements

  • Need is based on total gross annual family income and number of family members.
  • Family income cannot exceed 50 percent of the median income for the specific area.
  • Preference is given to families who earn less than 30 percent of the median area income.
  • If approved for a house choice voucher, you will then be placed on a waiting list until suitable housing comes available.
  • Your local public housing agency maintains the right to extend preferential treatment to those who are currently homeless, who have been involuntarily displaced, or who currently pay more than 50 percent of their entire income for housing.
  • Once enrolled in the house choice voucher program, tenants are required to adhere to the terms of the one-year lease, pay rent on time and take good care of the dwelling.

These are the basic requirements to qualify for a house choice voucher. If approved, it's up to you to locate suitable housing from someone who accepts HUD payments. Typically, as a HUD-approved applicant, you'll pay between 30 and 40 percent of your monthly rent, and HUD will cover the remainder.

Landlord Requirements

If you wish to participate in HUD as a property owner, you must adhere to certain requirements, as well:

  • The property must pass HUD inspection as a safe and decent place to reside.
  • These requirements must be maintained to remain in the program.
  • Property owners are required to fulfill any agreed-upon terms contained within a lease signed by the occupants.
  • The property must rent for a reasonable rate.

As a tenant applicant, you must report changes in income or family members to your public housing agency when they occur. If your income eventually exceeds 50 percent of the median income in your geographic area, you may be transitioned from the program or required to pay a higher amount toward your rent each month. Likewise, if a family member moves out, your situation will be re-evaluated for inclusion.