The section 8 housing voucher program is a federal voucher system designed to help very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Recipients are entitled to choose whatever housing suits their needs including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments as long as the minimum health and safety requirements of the program are met and the landlord agrees. The property does not need to be part of a low-income development. The housing subsidy is paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenants and the tenants are responsible to pay the difference between the cost of rent and utilities and the amount subsidized by the program. In some circumstances, a family may be authorized to use its voucher to purchase a modest home instead of rent.
Once a family chooses a housing unit and it has been inspected and approved for the program, a minimum one year lease is signed. After the first year the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month basis.
Section 8 Housing Voucher Program Basics
The Payment Standard
Determined by the local housing authority, the payment standard is used to calculate the amount of housing assistance a family will receive based on the amount needed to rent a moderately-priced home or apartment in the local housing market. The payment standard does not limit and does not affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family is allowed to pay. If the rent is greater than the payment standard the family is required to pay the additional amount. By law, whenever a family moves to a new unit where the rent exceeds the payment standard, the family may not pay more than 40 percent of its adjusted monthly income for rent.
How is the Rent Subsidy Calculated?
maximum housing assistance is generally the lesser of the payment standard minus 30 percent of the family’s monthly adjusted income or the gross rent for the unit minus 30 percent of their monthly adjusted income.
Can I Move when Receiving Housing Choice Voucher Assistance?
It is clear that over time a family’s housing needs may change and the section 8 housing voucher program is built with this flexibility in mind. A move with transfer of voucher assistance is allowed as long as the family notifies the local housing authority ahead of time, ends its existing lease within the lease provisions and finds acceptable new housing.
Section 8 vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs) that receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the program. In Bellingham, the Bellingham Housing Authority is the PHA.
The Bellingham Housing Authority assists more than 5,000 people through seven programs. The purpose of the authority is to help low income residents afford to live in acceptable housing to suit their diverse needs. All of the housing must be well-maintained and there is a special emphasis on safety and security. The Housing Choice Voucher also known as section 8 has a long waiting list in Bellingham and is currently closed. Please note that a person may be eligible for other housing programs.
Eligibility for section 8 housing coupons
Earn 30 percent of area median income or less as a household
Pay 30 to 40 percent of their household’s monthly income for rent and utilities
Meet screening criteria and have acceptable rental and criminal histories
Are citizens or have eligible immigration status within one year of signing a lease
Although it can be a long and challenging road, there is help for affordable housing in Bellingham. Please contact us at Son-Rise Property management for a list of properties available for low income public housing or section 8 rentals.