A Guide to Using Section 8 Vouchers

Mar 26, 2024

The Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) Program, more frequently known as the Section 8 Program, is a wonderful aid for low-income families who are seeking affordable housing. Obtaining a place to live has long been a problem for low-income families in the U.S., and the issue is unfortunately only getting worse. Luckily, the Housing Choice Voucher Program offers different ways to use Section 8 housing vouchers that are flexible for the various needs of different families.

The Section 8 housing vouchers, integral to the United States’ efforts in affordable housing, and offer crucial aid to low-income individuals and families. Managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), these vouchers strive to ease the financial strain of housing expenses for eligible recipients. Yet, grasping the optimal utilization of these vouchers holds considerable sway over the quality of life for individuals.

What is Section 8?

Section 8, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs). The PHAs receive federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It aims to help low-income individuals and families afford safe and decent housing in the private rental market. The program provides rental assistance vouchers to eligible participants, allowing them to choose their housing while the program subsidizes a portion of their rent.

Who is Eligible for Section 8 Housing?

In order to be eligible for Section 8 assistance, individuals or families are required to satisfy specific criteria concerning income, citizenship status, and other pertinent factors. Local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) determine eligibility based on guidelines established by HUD, and as set forth in their Administrative Plan.
According to HUD, there are a few national requirements that all Section 8 administrators must follow. The vouchers are meant for families with income that is 50 percent or less of the median income where they reside, and 75 percent of recipients from each PHA must have incomes less than 30 percent of the area’s median.

Waitlist maintained by PMHA?

Currently, the Section 8 waiting list with the Portage Metropolitan Housing Authority (PMHA) is closed (effective December 31, 2023). If an individual/family wishes to seek housing under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, they may look at other counties/jurisdictions that may have an open waiting list.

Please note the Public Housing waiting list with PMHA remains open and can be found by visiting www.portagehousing.org, and completing an online pre-application. PMHA’s Public Housing Program is for families, disabled, and elderly (50+), all others are ineligible, and will be removed from the waitlists. For any questions regarding PMHA’s waiting list, please contact the PMHA office at 330-297-1489.

If you need public housing assistance or would like specific information about public housing programs such as housing choice vouchers in other states/counties, please contact your local Public Housing Agency.

Different Ways You Can Use Your Section 8 Voucher

The Housing Choice Voucher Program serves as a critical component in ensuring housing stability for low-income individuals and families nationwide. Through empowering tenants with choice and fostering integration into varied communities, the program effectively tackles housing affordability issues and enhances access to secure and suitable housing choices.

  1. Renting a Traditional Apartment or House: One of the most common ways to use Section 8 housing is to rent a traditional apartment or house in the private rental market. You can search for available rental units that meet Housing Choice Voucher Section 8’s requirements, negotiate lease terms with landlords, and use your voucher to subsidize a portion of the rent.
  2. Renting a Single-Family Home: Section 8 vouchers can also be used to rent single-family homes, which provide more space and privacy for individuals, especially larger families. Many landlords who own single-family properties participate in the HCV Program, offering tenants a variety of housing options to choose from.
  3. Living in a Multi-Family Housing Development: Some Section 8 participants choose to live in multi-family housing developments that accept vouchers. These developments may offer amenities such as community spaces, on-site management, and maintenance services, providing residents with additional support and convenience.
  4. Exploring Affordable Housing Options: In addition to traditional rental units, Section 8 vouchers can be used to access affordable housing options such as low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) properties, subsidized housing developments, and nonprofit housing organizations. These options may offer reduced rents or additional supportive services for eligible tenants.
  5. Moving to a New Area: Section 8 vouchers are portable, allowing participants to move to different areas within the jurisdiction of their Public Housing Agency (PHA) or even to a different PHA jurisdiction, provided certain conditions are met. If you wish to relocate, you can work with your PHA to transfer your voucher and search for housing in your desired location.
  6. Renting a Room or Shared Housing: Section 8 vouchers can also be used to rent a room or shared housing arrangement, where tenants occupy a portion of a larger dwelling and share common areas with other occupants. This option may be more affordable for individuals seeking lower-cost housing solutions.
  7. Seeking Supportive Housing Services: Some Section 8 participants may require additional support services due to disabilities, mental health issues, or other challenges. In such cases, you can explore supportive housing programs that integrate rental assistance with specialized services to help individuals maintain stable housing and improve their quality of life.
  8. Utilizing Housing Choice Mobility Vouchers: In some jurisdictions, Housing Choice Mobility Vouchers are available to Section 8 participants, offering enhanced mobility options to move to areas with greater opportunities, lower poverty rates, and better amenities.
  9. Exploring Homeownership Opportunities: In some cases, Section 8 participants may have the option to use their vouchers towards homeownership through the Section 8 Homeownership Program. This program provides assistance with mortgage payments, and in some housing authorities, they may offer down payment assistance, and homeownership counseling to eligible participants interested in purchasing a home.
    • PMHA does have a Homeownership Program. Please contact Crystal Mathews at cmathews@portagehousing.org or at 330-297-1489, ext. 257 for more information.

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PMHA welcomes your questions, comments and requests.

2832 State Route 59
Ravenna, OH 44266
(330) 297-1489