Your Guide to Section 8 Housing Assistance Programs

Finding adequate housing is one of the cornerstones of living a safe and healthy life. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to afford for many Americans.



About Public Housing Assistance 

Public housing is when the state owns rental houses or apartments, which they provide to low-income families, elderly citizens and people with disabilities at an affordable price.

The Public housing program is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is available nationwide.

There are a variety of different sizes and types of public housing available, ranging from single-family houses to high-rise apartments.

In order to determine your eligibility for public housing, you will need to visit your local Public Housing Agency (PHA). To be eligible, you must fall with the local income limits that have been established by the HUD.

Income limits and eligibility criteria can vary from area to area, so it is important to contact your local PHA to learn about the specific requirements for your region.

Typically, your eligibility will be determined based on:

  • Your annual gross income.
  • Your U.S. citizenship or eligible immigrant status.
  • Whether you are eligible as an elderly citizen, a person with a disability or a family. 
  • Other established local factors. 

Learn About Section 8 Housing Vouchers

Section 8, now known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is a program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Benefits from Section 8 can be used to help eligible households pay for rental housing. This program was designed to help low-income families, elderly individuals and people with disabilities afford their monthly rent.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is one of the federal government’s largest program for housing assistance.

Although the program is funded federally, benefits are distributed at a local level by PHAs. 

Participants in Section 8 can use their housing vouchers at any housing that meets the program’s standards.

Beneficiaries are responsible for locating their own housing when participating in the Section 8 program.

Since the Section 8 program is managed locally, the eligibility requirements can vary from state to state. Generally, applicants will need to have a family income that does not exceed 50 percent of the median income for the county or city.

When applying, eligibility will be determined by applicants’ local PHA based on a number of different factors including annual gross income, family size and composition and more. 

Find Out About VA Home Loans

Retired military service members can receive home loans from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help them buy, build or improve a home.

Veterans also have the choice to refinance their current home loan through the VA. There are two primary types of loans that are available for veterans, VA direct loans and VA-backed loans. 

What are VA Direct Home Loans?

With a VA direct home loan, the Department of Veterans Affairs directly serves as the mortgage lender. This means that applicants will apply directly with the VA and if approved, they will manage the loan. 

Currently, the only type of VA direct home loan available is the Native American Direct Loan (NADL).

However, to be eligible to a NADL, the applicant or their spouse must be Native American and the home being purchased, build or improved must be on Federal Trust Land.

What are VA-Backed Home Loans?

On the other hand, a VA-backed loan is one that is issued by a private lender and guaranteed by the VA. When a VA-backed home goes into foreclosure, the Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees that they will help the lender recover some or all of their losses.

Lenders are more willing to offer veterans loans with favorable terms and interest rates because there is a reduced risk of them losing their money. 

One additional benefit of VA-backed home loans is that most of these loans are issued without a down payment. This allows borrowers to obtain a loan without paying a sizable amount of money upfront.

All lenders are required to follow VA standards whenever they issue a VA-backed loan. However, there may also be additional eligibility requirements for these loans.

Learn About FHA Loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers mortgages to help Americans become homeowners.

These FHA loans are popular, especially with first-time homebuyers because of the low down payment and credit score requirements.

FHA loans allow small down payments of 3.5 percent for borrowers with credit scores of 580 or higher.

In some cases, borrowers may be eligible for an FHA loan with a minimum credit score of 500 if they pay a 10 percent down payment. Some of the requirements you must meet in order to be eligible for an FHA loan, include:

  • Being at least 18 years of age.
  • Using the home as your primary residence.
  • Having two years of steady employment history.
  • Purchasing mortgage insurance.

Find Out About USDA Home Loans

In an effort to increase homeownership in rural areas of the country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created three different home loan programs:

  • Local guarantees are issued by private lenders and guaranteed by the USDA. Borrowers can receive low mortgage interest rates, even if they do not make a down payment. However, if borrowers put a little or no money down, they will be required to purchase mortgage insurance.
  • Direct Loans are loans issued directly by the USDA to help low- and very-low-income applicants afford a home in a rural part of the country. Interest rates for direct loans can be as low as 1 percent.
  • Home improvement loans and grants loans and money grants that are issued to homeowners in order to upgrade or improve their current homes. Homeowners can receive up to $27,500 from USDA loans and grants. 

Tips for Getting Approved for Home Loans

  1. Review your Credit Report and Scores before apply for a home loan. These two factors play important role in the amount of interest that will be applied to your loan. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest. Make sure there are not an mistakes within your credit report. This will ensure your home loan application process goes smoothly.
  2. Improve your credit score to make sure you get the best rates on your loan. Making your payments on time and paying down the balance on your card are few ways to raise your score. The most important part is to be consistent.
  3. Become pre-approved for a loan after completing the steps above. Being pre-approved for a loan means the lender has reviewed all of your financial information to determine loan qualification. Pre-approval is not like pre-qualification where a lender runs a soft inquiry. Being pre-approved is stronger and shows that borrower is more likely to be approved.