The Section 8 Program is an initiative under the purview of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program aims to provide access to safe, clean, and affordable housing for very low-income families, those who are elderly, and those who are disabled.
There are four basic types of Section 8 voucher programs, each administered just a bit differently.
- Tenant-Based Housing Choice Voucher (HCV)
- HCV Homeownership Voucher
- Project-Based Voucher (PBV)
- Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA)
The program typically issues vouchers that individuals can present to landlords who have agreed to be part of the Section 8 program. The program then pays the landlord directly for the value of the voucher, while the tenant makes up the difference. Though this is the basic model, housing voucher programs are administered locally by public housing authorities in a variety of ways.
The idea behind the Section 8 housing vouchers program is that families who are very low income, citizens with disabilities, and elderly citizens all have a fundamental right to safe, decent, appropriate housing that allows them to make a meaningful home. Under this program, HUD provides funding for local public housing authorities to help families find appropriate housing that will accept the program’s vouchers, and to verify with the landlord that the housing meets all standards for safety and cleanliness under the program.
The Section 8 program was originally launched as the United States Housing Act during the Great Depression, which catalyzed many social programs across the United States. The original U.S. Housing Act was written in 1937 and has been amended multiple times since then. The 1960s and 70s also saw an increase in federal funding to help make sure clean and safe housing was available for vulnerable citizens.