Q. I would like to understand more about Section 8 Housing.
A. The PA Section 8 program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, provides rental assistance to low income families in the private rental sector. Funded by HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development), the Section 8 housing goals are to provide better living conditions for families by assisting them in obtaining low income housing, maintaining rental payments and promoting a greater freedom of choice in housing options.
The program provides incentives to the owners of apartment complexes and private homes to ensure the continued availability of government subsidized homes. The incentives include the direct on-time payment of rent from the government and loss of Section 8 eligibility for tenants who do not pay their portion of the rent or violate the terms of the lease. Locally, the Pennsylvania Public Housing Authority (PHA) is responsible for qualifying applicants and disbursing the vouchers to eligible families.
What are the qualifications for low income housing in Pennsylvania? Three criteria are used to determine Section 8 eligibility in each of the state’s counties. First, the applicant must be an American citizen or a naturalized citizen. Secondly, the applicant must fall within a set income level in order to be considered. Generally, the applicant must make an annual salary that falls at least 30-50 percent below the median annual income of other residents in the area. Lastly, candidates and all adult members of their household must successfully pass a background check. Criminal activities, convictions, felonies or misdemeanors are cause for the denial of benefits.
To be a Section 8 landlord, the landlord and the property itself must be approved by the local housing authority. The property will be inspected to meet all local building and safety codes. Also, the housing authority will review the rental rates to ensure they are comparable with like properties in the area.
Once an approved landlord finds a Section 8 approved tenant, the housing authority will mail the landlord a portion of the rent every month and the tenant will pay the balance.