Blogs| Difference between Section 8 and Public Housing

Difference between Section 8 and Public Housing

Written by

Anuj Pratap


July 1, 2024



Article Contents

    Understanding affordable housing can feel overwhelming, especially with so many programs designed to help low-income families. Two well-known options in this landscape are Section 8 and Public Housing.  

    But what truly makes housing affordable? Let’s have a look – 

    According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), affordable housing costs less than 30% of a person’s gross monthly income.  

    For instance, if you earn $30,000 a year, you shouldn’t spend more than $9,000 annually on rent or mortgage. This limited budget often narrows down housing choices for low-income families. However, having a safe and decent place to live is crucial for everyone. 

    This is where public housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program (also known as Section 8) come into play. These initiatives ensure that low-income individuals and families have housing options. 

    This article aims to clarify the differences between Section 8 and Public Housing, helping you choose the right type of affordable housing option.  

    Let’s explore the various affordable housing options available for low-income individuals. 

    Types of Affordable Housing Options  

    When it comes to housing for low-income families, only a few choices are available. Many people in this situation look into public housing or Section 8 housing. The big difference between the two is who owns and runs the properties. HUD manages both programs, but with Section 8, private landlords own the properties and accept Section 8 vouchers for their tenants. Public housing, on the other hand, is government-owned and -operated. 

    Understanding Section 8 Housing 

    Section 8 Overview  

    Section 8 is a significant federal program that helps moderate to low-income families, older people, and people with disabilities find housing in the private market. This includes options like single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. The housing authority pays a subsidy directly to a private landlord on behalf of the tenants. Then, the tenants pay the rest of the rent to the landlord.  

    Section 8, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, gives low-income renters more freedom and options. Participants get vouchers to rent homes from any private landlord who accepts them. This means tenants aren’t limited to government buildings and can pick from a wide range of places to live, making it easier to find a home that fits their needs. 

    How to Get a Section 8 Voucher 

    1. Interested people should contact their local Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office to show interest in the Section 8 program. 
    2. Applicants fill out forms and show proof of income, listing everyone in the household, even pets. 
    3. The Section 8/Public Housing Authority checks applicants’ backgrounds to ensure they’ll be good tenants. This might include references or an interview. 
    4. If they pass the background check, applicants get confirmation and might be put on a waiting list if there’s more demand than available vouchers. Once approved, they get a voucher to find housing. 

    To qualify for Section 8, households usually need an income between 50 to 80 percent of the median household income, with preference given to disabled people and adults. Requirements can vary by state and neighborhood, but the goal is to help those in real need. However, people with recent evictions or felony arrests might find it harder to get approved. 

    Overall, Section 8 is a valuable option for low-income families searching for affordable housing with more choices and flexibility. 

    Understanding Public Housing 

    Public Housing Overview  

    Public housing units are owned and managed by the Housing Authority, offering affordable living for low-income individuals and families. It is a program run by the government that offers affordable housing directly through properties owned by the government.  

    You can get one of these units if you’re selected from the waiting list and meet all the requirements. 

    As long as you live in public housing, you receive rental assistance. However, you lose this rental subsidy if you decide to move out of public housing.  

    It’s meant to ensure that low-income people can access safe, decent, affordable homes without dealing with the private rental market. 

    How to Get into Public Housing 

    1. Reach out to your local HUD office to show interest in public housing. 
    2. Fill out forms and show proof of income, listing everyone in your household and pets. 
    3. They’ll check your background to make sure you’re a good tenant, which might include references or an interview. 
    4. If approved, you might be put on a waiting list because of high demand. You’ll get confirmation and keys to your new place when a unit becomes available. 

    To qualify for public housing, your household income must be between 50 to 80 percent of the median income, with preferences given to old and disabled people. Not all places have public housing; requirements vary by state and neighborhood. 

    Public housing gives low-income families a stable housing option, though there might be few units available, and you need to meet strict eligibility rules. 

    Using Technology to Improve Affordable Housing  

    Technology is changing how we approach affordable housing, making programs like Section 8 and Public Housing more efficient. One key example is LIHTC software, which helps manage Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs, making it easier for developers and agencies to handle properties. 

    This tech integration doesn’t just speed up housing programs; it also makes them more accessible and transparent. LIHTC software simplifies tasks like processing applications and managing properties, making it faster to provide housing for those who need it. 

    Technology will continue to transform affordable housing in the future. By embracing tools like Low Income Housing Tax Credit software, we can solve problems, make operations smoother, and ensure everyone has a safe, affordable place to live. 

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