Beginner’s Guide to Section 8 Housing Assistance Programs

There are many different housing assistance programs available throughout the United States. In various parts of the country, the costs of apartments, houses and land for sale are rising.



This means that prospective homeowners and renters are required to pay more for their properties without necessarily earning more income. This can cause financial stress for households.

This creates an even greater issue for low-income families who may already be struggling financially. Fortunately, there are various housing assistance programs available to households that need additional support.

Many of these programs are offered through the government and come with their own eligibility requirements. Families who are at risk of eviction or homelessness should familiarize themselves with the assistance options they could qualify for to avoid further hardship.

About Social Security Housing Assistance

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers different supportive programs. In fact, there are a few major initiatives that the SSA manages, and each of these programs offers benefits to a specific group of people.

Some of the most common SSA programs include Social Security (SS) benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Specifically: 

  • SS benefits are most commonly distributed to retirees who worked a set amount of time during their lives. 
  • SSI gives funds to elderly or disabled individuals who demonstrate financial need. 
  • SSDI provides benefits to qualifying individuals who cannot work due to a disability. 

Each of these programs can provide financial assistance to you if you qualify to enroll. However, it is important to remember that none of these programs provide funds specifically for housing assistance. Instead, these programs provide comprehensive financial assistance to individuals and families who qualify. 

Learn About Calculators for SSA Programs

If you are trying to pay for housing with government assistance, it is important to understand how much you are earning. Below are some useful tools that will calculate your benefit amount. This will depend on the SSA program you are receiving income from.

Regardless, you can use the funds you receive through this program to help you afford your rent or mortgage payments. As a result, these programs can help reduce your out-of-pocket housing costs each month you are enrolled. 

About Emergency Housing Assistance Benefits

In extreme situations, you may need to enroll in an emergency housing assistance program near you. Most often, candidates qualify for these benefits because they are facing immediate eviction or homelessness. However, the specific requirements you need to meet to receive benefits through these initiatives are determined by the organization that sponsors them. 

Sometimes, state governments offer their own emergency housing assistance programs. Other times, nonprofits and other independent organizations have their own programs you can enroll in. For these reasons, it is important that you understand your local resources and how they can help you. Generally, you can find programs available through: 

  • City, county or state governments. 
  • Nonprofits and community service organizations. 
  • Homeless shelters.

Additionally, remember that the federal government also provides emergency housing solutions to qualifying applicants. For example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also offers emergency housing options to certain applicants. To qualify, you need to be: 

  • Currently homeless.
  • In immediate danger of becoming homeless. 
  • Fleeing domestic violence. 

Learn About FEMA Housing Assistance

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also offers housing assistance to qualifying families. Unlike other assistance programs, FEMA housing assistance takes into account natural circumstances and not just an applicant’s personal qualifications. One of the most popular ways families can receive FEMA benefits is through the agency’s Individuals and Households Program (HIP). Through this program, families can receive financial support to help afford: 

  • Short-term hotel expenses if they need somewhere to stay after a natural disaster strikes their home. 
  • Rental assistance if households need temporary housing after a disaster. 
  • Reconstruction expenses if individuals need to rebuild their homes. 

However, keep in mind that FEMA housing assistance benefits are not always available. In fact, individuals can only apply for benefits if their housing was destroyed or damaged in a region that was presidentially declared to be a disaster area. Additionally, households can only apply if: 

  • They have no homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, or they have not filed a claim on their existing policies because their losses would not be fully covered. 
  • Someone in the applicants’ households is a U.S. citizen or has a qualifying immigration status. 
  • The homes that were damaged in a natural disaster are the households’ primary places of residency. 
  • Their homes were damaged directly as a result of the disaster, or they cannot reach their homes due to the disaster. 

Find Out About Tools For Dealing With Disaster

About the HUD Housing Assistance Program

HUD offers many different programs that can help low-earning families afford safe, clean housing options. One of the department’s most well-known initiatives is the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which is also referred to as Section 8. You can learn more about Section 8 here. With this option, qualifying candidates can apply to receive a voucher from their local public housing agency (PHA). Then, households can use their vouchers to find a rental property to live in. 

The PHA then becomes responsible for paying a portion of the recipient’s rent, which allows the tenant to rent a property at a price that is more manageable for him or her. Once enrollees have their vouchers, they are required to spend 30 percent of their monthly income on utilities and rent. As a result, Section 8 allows beneficiaries to live in housing complexes they may not be able to afford otherwise. 

Section 8 is a versatile program that gives you additional flexibility when choosing a rental property. However, it is important that you remember the following points about the program: 

  • PHAs in individual cities or jurisdictions manage their own Section 8 programs.
  • Popular cities usually have long waitlists, which means you can wait months or years before you receive benefits. 
  • The house or apartment you want to rent must meet HUD requirements before you can use your Section 8 voucher to rent the facility. 

Find Out About Other Government Housing Assistance Options 

There are other federal housing assistance programs you could use to help you reduce your monthly expenses. The following types of programs are also available: 

  • HUD homes: You can purchase foreclosed homes from HUD. Usually, these properties are available at a price that is below market value. Unlike Section 8, you become the owner of the home once you purchase it, and you need to use your own funds to buy the house. 
  • VA loans: VA loans are just some of the benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. You can learn more about VA benefits here. If you are a veteran, you may qualify for one of these loans, which you can use to help you purchase a home.