Section 8 housing choice vouchers are available to eligible low-income U.S. citizens and some categories of eligible immigrants to assist with housing expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Families with households that earn 50 percent or more than the area median are not eligible, and public housing agencies must allocate at least 75 percent of all vouchers to families with incomes that are no more than 30 percent above the area median.
It is typical for demand for available Section 8 housing to exceed availability, and the federal government authorizes public agencies to prioritize households on its waiting list. Families with substandard or no housing, displaced families, and families paying more than 50 percent of their household income toward rent may have precedence at the local agency’s discretion, states the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The local agency determines a standard amount that is reasonable for moderately priced housing in the area, although families can select a monthly rent that is above or below this standard with some restrictions. If the family selects a location below the standard, they may receive fewer subsidies, typically the gross rent minus 30 percent of the adjusted household income, explains the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Families can live in housing with more expensive rent but must cover the difference and cannot pay more than 40 percent of the household income toward rent to remain eligible.