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Resource Guide

Section 8 Housing

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What is Section 8?

Whenever you hear someone refer to “Section 8″ they are referring to the 8th section of the Housing Act of 1937.

This (repeatedly amended) Act provides approximately 3.1 million low-income households with rental housing assistance–primarily in the form of housing vouchers.

The largest part of Section 8 is called the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which provides (the aforementioned) housing vouchers to assist very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled afford “decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.” (As per their website).

The Housing Choice Voucher Program pays for a large portion of the rents and utilities of about 2.1 million households.

Tenants can move from one unit of at least minimum housing quality to another. It also allows individuals to apply their monthly voucher towards the purchase of a home, with over $17 billion going towards such purchases each year. The maximum allowed voucher is $2,200 a month.

All Section 8 Programs are managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

What is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development?

Good question! I had no idea you were such an enthusiast.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a Cabinet department in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. It was originally part of the House and Home Financing Agency, but it became a Cabinet department in 1965, as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” program to develop and execute policies on housing.

The HUD has a very specific mission:

“HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and transform the way HUD does business.”

Clear as mud? Great. I wonder why part of the HUD’s mission is to “transform the way HUD does business”…

The Cabinet member in charge of the HUD is the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The incumbent Secretary is a man named Shaun Donovan.


Shaun Donovan, the 15th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

He is the 15th person to hold this cabinet position and (fun fact) he is 12th in line of succession to the Presidency–as per his cabinet position.

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The Presidential line of succession as of today.

Am I eligible?

Maybe. Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the Public Housing Agency (PHA) based on total annual gross income and family size.

The program is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, the family’s income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live.

Eligibility is based on several factors, including the household’s income, size and composition, citizenship status, assets, medical and childcare expenses.

*This is an important distinction to make. The program is based on median income for the county or area. So it is not just how much you make. It is how much you make relative to everyone around you. You will only find relatively cheaper living. It will not guarantee you $400 monthly rent in a $2000 monthly rent area.

If the PHA determines you/your family are eligible, your name will be put on a waiting list. Once your name is reached on the waiting list, the PHA will contact you and issue you a housing voucher.

How do I apply?

If you are interested in applying for a voucher, contact one of the two local PHA offices listed below:

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There is a wealth of information on this topic online, and I encourage you to visit the Department of Housing and Urban Development website for more information.

For a convenient fact-sheet from the HUD, go here.

For further reading regarding the Housing Choice Voucher Program in Travis County, I recommend checking out the Housing Authority of Travis County’s website.

Here, you will find information about Public Housing, Section 8, Shelter + Care, and Disaster Housing information. You can also find a list of properties in the area that offer Section 8 housing.

If you are interested in touring some Section 8 Housing units, or if you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at (512) 900-7963.