Many households have found themselves in a situation where the cost of rent is too much to handle. If you’re dealing with this, there are many solutions that can lower your cost of living. One option is to turn to government assistance. The federal government offers various forms of affordable housing to people in need. One popular federal assistance program, commonly called Section 8 is available! You may also recognize it by the official name, the Housing Choice Voucher Program. This housing assistance opportunity has benefited both individuals and families in need for decades!
Section 8 Can Provide Affordable Housing Assistance
If you’re struggling to find affordable housing, the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) may be able to help. Qualifying recipients of this program are given vouchers that can be used towards the cost of rent. A benefit that they provide recipients, other than rental assistance, is freedom of choice. This is because voucher recipients choose their own rental unit to live in. This allows a household the freedom to select where they want to live! Due to this freedom, households may get the chance to areas of greater opportunity that they could not otherwise afford. Better neighborhoods typically offer an increased sense of safety, good schools, and better job options.
The ultimate goal of Section 8 is to provide households in financial need with affordable, safe, and decent housing. However, another important aspect of this program is to encourage the development of more affordable housing units. They do this through tax incentives that can ensure housing developers can get the funding they need.
How do Section 8 Vouchers Work?
In order to qualify for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, you need to meet certain criteria. Eligibility is typically determined based on factors such as income level and family status. That’s because the intention of the program is to lower housing insecurity among low-income households. However, eligibility requirements aren’t the same everywhere. This is due to the fact that Section 8 is administered locally. Despite receiving federal funding, local public housing authorities (PHAs) operate the program offered in their community. You can get in touch with the PHA in your area to get more information on your state’s qualifications.
Qualifying recipients get their voucher paid directly to their landlord once they find a rental property suitable for the program. It can be a difficult task finding somewhere to live that accepts Section 8. Unfortunately many private landlords don’t want the hassle of dealing with them. However, the government also offers certain tax incentives to property owners that are willing. In addition to that, the property also needs to pass an inspection done by the PHA.
Vouchers can cover a significant portion of a recipient’s cost of rent. However, how much the voucher is for is dependent on the specific household. Furthermore, the remainder of housing expenses that are not covered by the voucher are left up to the tenant to pay.
Comparing the Positive and Negative Aspects of Section 8
When considering whether or not Section 8 is a good option for you, it’s important to have all of the information. It may sound exciting to get your living expenses under budget, with the freedom to choose where you live! However, this program doesn’t come without any disadvantages. Let’s compare some of the positives and negatives of the program
The Positive Takeaways
We highlighted a couple of the advantages earlier. Some of the additional positive impacts of Section 8 include:
- Improved quality of life: Living in areas with greater opportunity can positively impact a family’s circumstances long-term. This is because both educational and employment opportunities may be more accessible, whereas they weren’t before.
- Effective at combating housing insecurities: Low-income families and individuals can benefit from Section 8. Often, these households were at risk for or already experiencing housing insecurity. The monthly financial assistance can greatly reduce their expenses and get them back on their feet.
- Promotes the development of more affordable housing: By providing tax incentives to housing developers, Section 8 is promoting the expansion of affordable housing across the U.S.
The Pitfalls of Section 8
Despite the many benefits of this housing assistance program, there are still negative aspects to consider. With that being said, let’s take a look at what kind of disadvantages you can expect:
- Challenging to find suitable housing: When a Section 8 recipient finds a rental property to live in, they need to make sure the landlord accepts housing vouchers. Whether a landlord does or does not want to is completely up to them. This can make it difficult when searching through the already limited number of rentals available.
- Not enough funding: Affordable housing is hard to come by. As a result, there are countless households in need of assistance. Each year, Section 8 only receives so much funding. Unfortunately this results in a long waiting list. Approved applicants may wait months to years before being awarded a voucher.
An Alternative Route to Homeownership
Renting isn’t always the best option for every household. At the same time, buying a home can be a challenging and pricey experience! Despite that, buying a can be a good long-term financial decision. Thanks to the Homeownership Voucher Program, current voucher recipients may be able to use their vouchers towards becoming a homeowner! The Homeownership Voucher Program allows current voucher recipients to use their assistance for housing expenses, specific to owning a home. This is a great opportunity, however, the program isn’t available everywhere. Lastly, in order to qualify, current voucher holders need to meet various criteria.
For the most part, the Housing Choice Voucher Program helps ensure that more households have access to decent and affordable housing. Various low-income families and individuals can qualify for this valuable assistance. Section 8 awards vouchers that are based on the receiving household’s income, family status, and more. Perhaps the biggest advantage to receiving this rental assistance is the fact that it’s meant for properties with the private market. Therefore, recipients get more freedom and flexibility to live in higher-opportunity areas.
Despite the much-needed help that Section 8 can provide, the program doesn’t lack its own fair share of challenges. Some obstacles that applicants can run into include long waiting lists and lack of rental options. Once you’ve considered all of the aspects of Section 8, you can decide if this program can benefit you. If you’re looking for a way to decrease your housing costs, seeking federal housing assistance can be an effective way to do so!