Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
The Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) is a Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program to assist low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities to rent safe, decent, affordable housing in a community. The Section 8 program is administered by local public housing agencies (PHAs). In Florida, the PHA is often the local Public Housing Authority within a community. The Section 8 program provides rental assistance only. Although Section 8 vouchers may be used in assisted living facilities, they cannot be used to pay for meals or services.
Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local housing agencies, long waiting periods are common. In fact, a PHA may close its waiting list when it has more families on the list than can be assisted in the near future.
PHAs may establish local preferences for selecting applicants from its waiting list. For example, PHAs may give a preference to a family who is (1) homeless or living in substandard housing, (2) paying more than 50% of its income for rent, or (3) involuntarily displaced. Families who qualify for any such local preferences move ahead of other families on the list who do not qualify for any preference. Each PHA has the discretion to establish local preferences to reflect the housing needs and priorities of its particular community.
TENANT AND PROJECT-BASED VOUCHERS
Tenant-based vouchers are the most common type of vouchers and are issued to individuals who qualify financially. Tenant-based vouchers are portable and may be used towards the rent of any approved housing unit within a community.
Project-based vouchers are vouchers that are committed to a specific housing unit or facility. Project-based vouchers are fixed and remain with the facility even if the tenant leaves.
Because Section 8 vouchers cannot be used to pay for services, assisted living facility contracts must separate housing costs and service costs. In addition, assisted living facilities that accept Section 8 vouchers must be inspected annually by the issuing PHA and enter into a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract.
RENT OBLIGATION AND REIMBURSEMENT
The PHA reimbursement rate is equal to the difference in the Fair Market Rent and the resident's rent obligation. The Fair Market Rent is adjusted annually.
The resident's rent obligation is equal to 30 percent of his or her adjusted gross income.
Individuals are eligible for Section 8 vouchers if their income is at or below 50 percent of the Area Median Income of a community. Median income levels are published by HUD and vary by location. The PHA serving your community can provide you with the income limits for your area and family size.
Note: It is possible to combine the Section 8 vouchers with Optional State Supplementation, Assistive Care Services, and Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Long-Term Care waivers that are available to frail elders in Florida.
For additional information, please go to the Department of Housing and Urban Development or contact your local housing authority.