Federal Section 8 rental housing assistance programs are managed locally by public housing agencies that determine eligibility. A person is eligible if he or his family's income does not exceed 50 percent of the median income for the location where he lives.
To obtain Section 8 benefits, often in the form of housing choice vouchers, a person needs to apply at a local public housing agency or local HUD office for Section 8 rental housing assistance. The applicant needs to provide information that documents income, assets and family composition. The PHA verifies this information with other agencies, the applicant's employer and his financial institution, and determines program eligibility. If found eligible, the PHA determines the amount of the housing assistance payment.
Even if determined eligible, there may be a waiting list. Under federal regulations by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the local PHA is required to give 75 percent of its vouchers to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30 percent of the area median income for the family's size. Median income levels differ depending on location. A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for locating suitable housing that must meet minimum health and safety standards. The voucher is then paid directly to the landlord.