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How Section 8 Works For Renters & Landlords

It is more common than not for families today to face housing difficulties, whether it be the financial cost or simply finding a rental unit available. On top of application fees and initial deposits, the price of renting here in Hawaii or anywhere in the country is strenuous; programs such as Section 8 help subsidize costs and make the basic necessity of housing more affordable.

Funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Section 8 is a federal program in which vouchers are given to individuals struggling with housing security. Priority is given to those who can only afford low-to-extremely low income housing, and can be validated anywhere within the U.S.

Since it’s creation in 1974 following Congress authorization, HUD has worked diligently to extend vouchers to eligible tenant families in the United States. These vouchers can be taken for a rental in whichever area your voucher extends to, and can include whatever the bedroom maximum is set to, as well as what costs will be subsided (set by the housing authority in the area).

How does Section 8 work?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development grants funding to public housing agencies, who then administer Section 8 vouchers locally in their area. PHA’s spearhead the application process, in which they collect all relevant information on each applicant, determine your eligibility, and finalize the amount of the housing assistance payment that will be granted. Once accepted, an applicant will be placed on a waiting list until a spot frees up, at which point the local PHA will reach out and extend the voucher.

Who qualifies for Section 8 vouchers?

According to HUD, eligibility for a housing voucher “is determined by the PHA based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status.” Essentially, a possible family may not make more than 50% of the median income in order to qualify, an amount which is set by HUD and varies by location.

What to keep in mind when applying for a Section 8 Voucher

Those thinking of accessing a Section 8 voucher must keep in mind eligibility, and check with the HUD’s income levels for their area. Once they determine initial eligibility, an applicant must ensure to prioritize their paperwork deadlines and meetings with a public housing official. In the case a renter can not fulfill a deadline or meeting, communication is key, and they must contact their public housing official immediately.

You also must continuously be your own advocate. The process to Section 8 housing can be lengthy and time-consuming, involving loads of paperwork and consistent meetings; educating yourself on how this process works and what eligibility and rules looks like will significantly help you along the way.

How does Section 8 help renters?

The implementation of the Section 8 program has enabled many low-income Americans the ability to afford rent. By basing each voucher on the family and their individual income, Section 8 vouchers can prove immensely beneficial to low-income households. The amount of rent subsidized can be adjusted due to new changes in income levels, whether it be an emergency situation or in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Regardless of this federal program, states still have authority, and may make it harder for others to access a Section 8 voucher. Alongside the lengthy process to a voucher, landlords of rental properties hold final say in which tenants they accept on Section 8. As much as discrimination is set to be avoided, cases may occur where taking a Section 8 voucher will be easier in some places rather than others.

How does this impact real estate investors?

Section 8 housing can prove just as beneficial to landlords as it can to the program’s recipients. Given the acceptance of the housing voucher, the landlord will receive rent in full each month, as the subsidized amount will come in the form of direct deposit from the federal government. All accepted applicants of the Section 8 program will also have already been screened and vetted for their financial background, so tenants with Section 8 vouchers provide extra security for landlords who oversee their properties.


Other Rental Assistance Programs We Support

Alongside Section 8, White Sand Capital/Our Home Investments accepts other forms of rental assistance at our properties, including the Native Hawaiian’s Association Rental Assistance, and Catholic Charities Rental Assistance.

Hawaiian’s Association’s Rental Assistance assists households whose income was affected by the recent and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible persons must not make more than 80% of the area median income, and payments can be used for rent payments, delinquent utility and energy payments, and other qualified expenses related to housing.

Catholic Charities Rental Assistance aims to provide the same scope of resources as the Hawaiian’s Association, hoping to give rental and utility assistance to Hawaiians financially impacted by COVID-19. The Rental and Utility Relief Program (RURP) has undergone new federal eligibility, allowing more impacted residents to receive financial assistance.


Section 8 Program, Hawaiian Association's Rental Assistance, and Catholic Charities Rental Assistance all qualify under White Sand Capital's properties—reach out and find out more on how we can help you!





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