- January 16, 2006 at 7:19 pm #235667LissKeymaster
Need Rent Money? Uncle Same Can Help
by M. Anthony Carr
If you’re trying to get on that first rung of the homeownership ladder ? I’m
referring to renting your first house ? there are a couple of government
programs that pack a powerful punch for low-income home shoppers. Section 8 is
the most popular, geared toward low-income renters, and Section 42 helps
developers create affordable housing communities, thus increasing the pool of
housing opportunities for low-income families.
Households with 50 to 60 percent of the median income in a particular area can
get assistance from a local or state housing authority that uses funds from a
U.S. Housing and Urban Development program called Section 8. This program was
the successor to public housing as we know it in this country. Instead of the
government taking on the task of building and maintaining housing projects, like
they did in great numbers during the 1960s and 1970s, now it provides financial
assistance to home dwellers who need a helping hand.
Basically, Section 8 funds pay the landlord rent money. The renter applies for a
voucher (and there are several types to choose from ? check out HUD’s renting
section at its web site: https://www.hud.gov). They include:
a.. Conversion Vouchers
b.. Family Unification Vouchers
c.. Homeownership Vouchers
d.. Project Based Vouchers
e.. Tenant Based Vouchers
f.. Vouchers for People with Disabilities; and
g.. Welfare-to-Work Vouchers
The value of the voucher varies. The public housing authority pays the owner the
difference between 30 percent of adjusted family income and a PHA determined
payment standard or the gross rent for the unit, whichever is lower. The family
may choose a unit with a higher rent than the payment standard and pay the owner
the difference. It’s a busy formula to figure, but your local PHA staff can help
determine your voucher level.
This voucher is what the renter then uses to rent a unit. I use the word unit,
because it can be an apartment, condo, townhouse or single-family home. In some
states, property owners can decide whether or not to use Section 8 vouchers,
while other states require investors to use them if they’re going to offer
rental properties in the state.
Section 8 housing has helped a lot of people when they need it most, giving them
a leg up on the tough job of saving up money for a downpayment. By using the
Section 8 program, the renter can now save more of his or her own money in
preparation for buying a house in the future.
Many low-income renters know about Section 8. What they may not know about is
Section 42 — the government program that can give Section 8 voucher holders
extra punch for their dollar.
Section 42 administers the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, introduced in 1986.
LIHTC is a tax credit program developers use to construct or refurbish
multifamily housing with the understanding that only residents who make 50 or 60
percent of the local median income can rent the units. With that limitation, the
developer can save hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in tax
payments because they are helping fill the need for low-income housing. With
these savings, they can then offer apartments under the market rate rent.
?Although there is considerable variation among properties, tax-credit
properties tend to be small, newly constructed, and managed by their owners.
Most are situated in central cities. The properties are intended to serve
families, elderly persons, and disabled persons,? according to https://www.huduser.org,
an online information source for housing and community development researchers
Because of the quality of some of these units, potential renters in high-rent
markets have been caught lying to get into these properties. Basically, the
application process is the reverse of most housing processes ? the landlord
tries to eliminate you because you make too much money, rather than the other
The vouchers are administered by the state, but the properties that accept
Section 8 properties are privately owned and maintained ? and that’s where you
find the disconnect.
Interested renters can find their state public housing authority web site by
visiting the National Council of State Housing Agencies web site. There’s no
national or state-by-state database available for voucher holders to find
private homes who accept Section 8 vouchers. Hopefully, HUD and the state level
PHAs can rectify this problem to make the process less painful.
Published: November 15, 2002
Date: Fri Feb 21, 2003 10:42 am
Subject: Budget102: Need Rent Money? Uncle Same Can Help
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