Eligibility for Housing Choice Vouchers

The idea of having a home that’s free from poverty and homelessness is one that many people can only dream of. For those who can’t afford housing on their own, there is a great way to get help through housing choice vouchers. This article will focus on the eligibility requirements for these voucher programs, as well as the basics of the program itself. We will examine the different ways a person can qualify for a voucher, and go into the details for what happens after qualification. By the end of this article, readers should be well-informed about their eligibility for housing choice vouchers and the processes involved with applying for them.

What are Housing Choice Vouchers?

Housing Choice Vouchers, otherwise known as Section 8, are a federal program available to qualified individuals and households. The aim of this program is to provide a portion of rent costs to eligible renters so that they can live in decent, safe housing in a neighborhood of their choosing. This kind of housing subsidy is usually administered through municipal public housing agencies (PHAs). These agencies are responsible for verifying applications and providing the verified housing voucher to low-income households.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible for a housing choice voucher, households must meet certain criteria set by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These criteria include a family’s income, citizenship status, public assistance eligibility, and whether or not they are displacing another tenant. It is important to note that the voucher will only cover the portion of rent cost that exceeds the tenant’s annual income.


Family income is a key factor in determining eligibility for housing choice vouchers. The PHAs must adhere to their local area median income (AMI) and compare the potential tenant’s income with the regional median. HUD sets the Annual Median Income for each area. If an applicant’s income falls below the median, they may qualify for housing choice vouchers. However, it is important to note that the amount received for the voucher is based on a certain percentage of the tenant’s income as well, which can vary from 50-80% depending on the situation.

Citizen Status

In order to be eligible for the housing choice vouchers, the tenant must be a US citizen or eligible legal immigrant. It is important to note that there is no required minimum length of residence in the country, but the applicant must demonstrate the ability to remain in the US lawfully in order to receive a voucher.

Public Assistance Eligibility

Many households that receive public assistance also qualify for housing choice vouchers. This includes families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Displacing Another Tenant

Lastly, the tenant must not be displacing another tenant, such as a resident of public housing. This means that the tenant must find their own private, rental property that is not already occupied by another tenant, who is receiving public housing. This rule is in place to ensure that no displacement of existing tenants occurs due to the program.

Application Process

Once a person has determined that they are eligible for housing choice vouchers, they must submit an application to their local PHA. The application itself consists of personal information, such as income and family size, as well as contact information.

Once the application has been processed and approved, the tenant will receive the voucher and must find an eligible rental property. The tenant then presents the voucher to the landlord or property manager and pays for the portion of rent not covered by the voucher. It is important to note that the tenant is responsible for all rent and utility payments, even if the voucher covers a portion of the rent.

In some cases, the tenant may be able to take advantage of other programs or subsidies offered in the area. For instance, in New York City, the applicant may apply for the Living in Communities (LINC) program, which offers rental subsidies as well as support services to help the tenant find a suitable property.

Final Thought

Housing choice vouchers are an incredible resource for those in need of assistance with housing costs. It is important that eligible applicants understand the criteria and application process for these programs. The criteria are income-based, and the application process involves submitting personal information and contact information. Once the application has been approved, the tenant must then look for a suitable rental property and make all necessary rent and utility payments.

Housing choice vouchers are an invaluable assistance program for those in need of help with rent payments. It is important to know what the eligibility requirements are, and to understand the details of the application process. With the proper knowledge, those eligible for housing choice vouchers can have safe and affordable housing in their chosen neighborhood.