Affordable Housing Part #1: Section 8 Housing

March 20, 2021

I think it is safe to say we all have been reminded lately of the importance of such things as our health, a job, and housing. One’s physical location and housing situation is well documented as a very significant part of the equation of human flourishing. This topic, on one hand, is very straight forward and yet, on the other hand, is complex. Cutting through the complexities, I think we all would agree that safe, affordable, and clean housing is something many of us take for granted, however, there are too many who live without it every day. There are many solutions needed both publicly and privately. I think the government’s recent action of putting moratoriums on evictions brings this discussion to the very practical tension between the needs of residents, and the reality of finance and responsibilities of landlords.

One solution the government has had in place since 1974 is Section 8 housing vouchers. Most only know of it in name and don’t really understand at a high level how the program works. Section 8 housing is a federal program assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing. HUD overseas the program with the help of local housing authorities across the US. There are two types of vouchers: Housing Choice Vouchers and Project Based Vouchers. Housing Choice Vouchers are assigned to a resident and their family through a qualification process that includes income and asset tests, family size and expenses, and age and disabilities. These vouchers stay with the family, not the property, allowing them to move to another qualified property if needed. Those with these vouchers pay up to 30% of their income on their housing costs. Project Based Vouchers are assigned to a qualifying property and not a specific resident. Therefore, when a family moves out, a new qualifying family has an option to use that voucher. As you can imagine, both of these vouchers have been very beneficial to residents and landlords during the challenges of COVID. Regardless of your political or economical view point, innovation, creativity, and heart are needed to provide safe, affordable, and clean housing for all.

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