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Section 8 Housing Vouchers

Section 8 housing vouchers are federal benefits that are distributed by local authorities. Income eligibility limits and benefit levels are based on local median income and local housing costs but are set largely at the federal level with limited local discretion. [More detail and national data...]

Federal decisions are italicized.

Eligibility Criteria

Income eligibility criteria

Applicant income limit1Generally 50% of area median income (AMI), but can be up to 80% in some cases; 75% of new vouchers must go to families with incomes below 30% AMI. (2001)
Recipient income limit1Current recipients maintain vouchers until their income reaches a level at which the value of their housing subsidy is reduced to $0 (housing subsidies are calculated based on family income, housing costs, and other factors). (2001)

Treatment of child support income

Treatment of child support income1Counted in full (2001)

Asset eligibility criteria

Assets disregarded for eligibility determination1Yes (2001)

Immigrant eligibility criteria

Federal restrictions on lawful permanent residents' (LPRs) access to benefits2None (2004)

Participant Requirements

Work requirements

Work requirements1None (2001)


Benefit level

Housing payment standard1Local public housing authorities set maximum payment standards for landlords at 90-110% of the local Fair Market Rent (FMR). FMRs, which are determined by HUD, are set at the 40th or 50th percentile of the local market rate for rent plus utilities. (2001)

Cost to family

Family rent burden1The family's contribution to rent and utilities generally equals the greater of 30% of net income, 10% of gross income, or the minimum rent (local public housing authorities may set a minimum rent of $0-$50/month). (2001)


Number of recipients

Number of recipients (households w/ children)37,814 households (2004)


Total spending

Total spending on all households (federal)Data not available (2004)

Data Notes and Sources

Data on Section 8 Housing Vouchers were compiled by NCCP in June 2004.

  1. Quadel Consulting Corporation, Voucher Program Guidebook: Housing Choice, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Public and Indian Housing, 2001.
  2. National Immigration Law Center, Guide to Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs, Fourth Edition, 2002; with updates from Update Page, (accessed November 1, 2004).
  3. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Resident Characteristics Report: As of December 31, 2004, Multifamily Tenant Characteristics System, (accessed January 28, 2005).