Housing: Section 8 Overview

By Technical Assistance Collaborative, Inc.


The federal Section 8 program began in 1975 as a way to assist low-income families, elderly people, and people with disabilities to rent decent, safe, and affordable housing in the community. Through this program, individuals and families receive a “voucher” — also referred to as a “subsidy” — that can be used in housing of their choice that meets the Section 8 program requirements. These subsidies are long-term and considered permanent housing.

The Section 8 program is one of the most successful federal housing programs. It is also one of the best ways to help people with disabilities afford and maintain rental housing of their choice.

Currently, across the nation, over 1.5 million households receive housing assistance through the Section 8 program — including many households with family members with a disability.

In 1975, when this housing assistance program was established, it was referred to as the “Section 8” program. In many communities, it is still referred to by this name. However, a federal housing law passed in 1998 gave the program a new name — the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP).

This guidebook is intended for people with disabilities, their families, and service providers seeking comprehensive information on the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. It provides information on how to engage public housing agency staff to help people with disabilities participate in the Section 8 program. It includes an overview of the Section 8 program, a description of how it is administered, an explanation of the application and waiting list processes, and details on household eligibility and rent subsidies. It also includes overviews of the housing search process, the federal fair housing laws, the project-based rental assistance component of the program, and the Pilot Program for Homeownership Assistance for Disabled Families.

Download the guidebook Section 8 Made Simple

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