Exceptions Made for Section 8 Voucher UsageSeptember 29, 2017
Individuals faced with unforeseen or challenging circumstances may be eligible for the Section 8 housing voucher program. In select cases, exceptions can be made to aid people in their ability to afford decent housing. Below is information on special instances when exceptions can be made. Read on to determine whether or not you meet the qualifications.
Finding the Right Program for You
Section 8 helps low-income families, who otherwise would not have the means, acquire housing and improve their quality of life. The Housing Choice Voucher Program accomplishes this by providing direct support with rent obligations, making them affordable. More often than not, the U.S. Government assumes the majority of the monthly rent payment (70%), with the remaining portion paid by the recipient (30%).
Because circumstances are unique and differ from family to family, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has developed a set of criteria for special cases in which exceptions may apply. These specific situations are inclusive of the Family Unification Program, Section 8 for the Disabled, and the Homeownership Voucher. These programs are intended to provide an improved standard of living for families impacted by situations beyond their control.
Family Unification Program (FUP)
The FUP Program provides assistance to individuals 18-21 years old who have aged out of the foster care system and no longer have a home. It also aims to reunite families that have separated or keep them together. Youth and families must be without sufficient housing to qualify.
Public Housing Authorities (PHA) and Public Child Welfare Agencies (PCWA) collaborate with one another to manage the Family Unification Program. The PCWA determines if individuals or parties meet the eligibility requirements and refers those qualified, along with their certification, to the PHA. Depending on the type of referral from the PCWA, qualifying participants will be placed on the appropriate waitlist by the PHA. Afterward, the PHA determines if all eligibility requirements have been satisfied by conducting a standard investigation. Please be advised, not every PHA administers the Family Unification Program. Before proceeding, contact your local PHA to confirm if these services are offered.
Specific requirements must be met to qualify for either program. The PCWA must verify that eligible youth are at least 18 years old and no older than 21. Additionally, they must have left foster care by the age of 16 or older and lack adequate living arrangements. Likewise, inadequate housing must be the principal reason for the “imminent placement of the family’s child or children in out-of-home care or delay of discharge of a child or children to the family from out-of-home care;” this means occupying unsafe housing, homelessness, an overcrowded living environment, apparent danger of losing their home, or displacement due to domestic violence.
Family Unification Changes Lives
The Family Unification Program has helped numerous families rebuild and rejoin their family unit by forgiving past hardships. The program helps families start over regardless of their previous unstable conditions resulting from drugs, homelessness, poverty or other factors.
Homeownership is life-changing and a goal that many sought after, but are not always able to achieve. However, the Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program makes it obtainable by allowing eligible buyers to use their Section 8 benefits toward their monthly mortgage obligation. Participants need to complete pre-purchase counseling, locate a unit to purchase and arrange their mortgage. Homeownership vouchers are not a loan but are designed to provide continuous assistance for families who need help paying their mortgage.
To qualify, participants must be first-time homebuyers who currently receive Section 8 benefits. The annual income for adult members occupying the home cannot be less than the federal minimum hourly wage multiplied by 2000 hours. Some of these restrictions do not apply for participants who have disabled family members. For example, families that include disabled members do not need to be first-time homebuyers. For persons living alone, the annual income cannot be less than the monthly federal SSI benefit multiplied by 12.
At minimum, one adult family member must be employed full-time for at least one year before assistance can begin. However, elderly individuals and those with disabilities may receive an exemption from this requirement.
Non-Elderly Disabled (NED) Vouchers
NED vouchers provide assistance to individuals with disabilities who are 62 years of age or younger currently living in an institution or nursing facility but want to transition to living in their own home. Previously, some public housing units were reserved exclusively for elderly tenants. However, they are now available to non-elderly and disabled persons. Only select PHAs cover this service, so it is important to confirm that your local PHA has an approved plan and is eligible for this program.
More information regarding the availability of NED Vouchers and your local PHA can be found here.
The majority of Section 8 recipients utilize their benefits for apartments or single-family homes. However, if you’re a person with a disability, benefits can be used to pay for a group home, congregate housing, shared housing, a room or an assisted living facility. This needs to be requested as a “reasonable accommodation”. While a property owner can refuse tenants receiving Section 8 benefits, it is against the law to refuse occupancy to individuals with disabilities receive Section 8. If you feel you’ve been discriminated against due to a disability, contact your local PHA.
If you’ve located housing that suits your needs but requires modification, contact your local PHA. In some cases, the PHA may provide additional compensation to the property owner to offset the costs of the necessary modifications. Landlords must accept the request for modifications as long as they are reasonable.
Additional Voucher Programs
Conversion Vouchers – These vouchers are available to individuals and families who have been displaced due to demolition, disposition or the mandatory conversion of public housing units.
HUD-VASH – This agency provides assistance to low-income and homeless veterans.
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