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What Exactly Is Section 8? Do I Qualify?

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Section 8 is a government program designed to help low-income people have access to safe and affordable housing. Most low-income people are aware of Section 8 but do not necessarily know how the program works or the benefits they will receive from Section 8. Low income people who do not know the basics of Section 8 are missing out on substantial rent savings.


Single people and families whose income falls under a certain point are eligible for Section 8. The exact amount of money that determines who qualifies will depend on the residents county and the size of the household.


Section 8 is funded with federal money. The program began during the Great Depression as a way to help families find affordable and safe housing options. Demand for Section 8 has grown tremendously in recent years due to the country's current economic meltdown. Section 8 is designed to help people stabilize their lives and move on to other living arrangements.


Qualified people on Section 8 are given vouchers to present to a landlord. The vouchers mandate that Section 8 recipients do not pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income for rent. The remainder of the rent is paid for by the government directly to the property owner. Property owners who accept Section 8 are limited to the amount of total rent they may charge which is based on the area's fair market rent value. Property owners who accept Section 8 must keep the property in good repair. Properties are subject to inspections before a Section 8 recipient is allowed to rent the location.


Qualifying for Section 8 requires that the family income is below the median poverty rate for the area that they reside in. Allowable income varies widely across the country due to this valuation. People who live in higher income areas will be able to make more money and still qualify for Section 8 compared to people who live in areas that average a lower yearly median income.


Income qualification may be waived in some instances. Women who are single mothers or fleeing a domestic abuse situation may be able to qualify for Section 8, in order to help them get back on their feet. Elderly and disabled people may qualify for the program if their income exceeds the area's median rate. Anyone who feels that they would benefit from Section 8 should apply for assistance.


Anyone that is interested in applying for Section 8 needs to contact the local housing authority in their county. An appointment will be made to have the head of the household come in for an application and to discuss the qualifications for assistance. Applicants will be able to immediately apply to receive Section 8 or they will be placed on a waiting list until a spot in the program opens up.

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