Section 8 Vouchers - Special Cases
The Section 8 housing voucher program offers unique case options to help people in challenging circumstances afford decent housing. Find out what these special cases are and whether or not you qualify.
Finding the Right Program for You
Section 8 vouchers provide vital direct support for low-income families who need help paying for housing. In most cases, Housing Choice Voucher recipients will only pay 30% of their rent, with the remaining 70% covered by the US government. This assistance has allowed many families to improve their living situation and quality of life as well as take the steps necessary to elevate their lives overall.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development recognizes that no two cases are exactly alike, and have created a handful of "special case" vouchers for use in specific situations. These include the Family Unification Program, Section 8 for the Disabled, and the Home Ownership Voucher. Each of these special case programs provides a better home life for families affected by unusual situations. Learn more about each of these programs, and you may discover the right fit for you and your family.
Family Unification Program (FUP)
The FUP Program provides assistance to reunify families or to keep them together and to individuals 18-21 years of age that no longer have a home within the foster care system. Families and youths must currently lack adequate housing to qualify.
How Does It Work?
Public Housing Authorities (PHA) administer the Family Unification Program in partnership with Public Child Welfare Agencies (PCWA). The PCWA determines whether the family or independent youth meets all of the eligibility requirements. If they do, the PCWA will then refer them with their certification to a PHA. Based on the PCWA referral, the PHA then places the Family Unification Program applicant on a waiting list. The PHA will then perform the standard investigation to determine if the family or independent youth meets the specific eligibility requirements. It is important to note that NOT all PHAs facilitate the Family Unification Program. You must make sure that the PHA in your area does before proceeding.
Both FUP and the Housing Voucher Program have specific requirements. For FUP, the PCWA must certify that the lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in the "imminent placement of the family's child or children in out-of-home care or a delay of discharge of a child or children to the family from out-of-home care." A "lack of adequate housing" means living in substandard or unsafe housing, homelessness, imminent danger of losing their home, displaced by domestic violence, overcrowded living environment, or living in a domicile inaccessible to the family's disabled child or children.
For independent youths, the PCWA must certify that the youth is at least 18 years of age, no more than 21, left foster care at the age of 16 or older and lacks appropriate living environment.
Family Unification Changes Lives
Each family's story is unique and different. Many people have had children during times when their lives were completely unstable due to drugs, homelessness, poverty, or other factors. The Family Unification Program has assisted individuals that have turned the page from their past to rejoin and rebuild their family unit.
Owning a home can change a family's life. It provides stability and safety and can build confidence and pride in the family unit. It's also a welcome relief for many families, allowing them to rest easy in the knowledge that they have a place of their own. Homeownership assistance is available through the Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program. This program offers first-time homeowners assistance in meeting mortgage payments by allowing eligible buyers to use their Section 8 benefits towards payment of a monthly mortgage. Participants must complete pre-purchase counseling, find a unit to purchase and arrange their mortgage. Home ownership vouchers are not a loan program, but they do provide continuing assistance in meeting mortgage payments.
To qualify for this program, families must currently be receiving Section 8 assistance and be first-time homebuyers. The annual income of the adult members of the family who will own the home must not be less than the federal minimum hourly wage multiplied by 2000 hours. For families that have an individual or individuals that are disabled, some of these restrictions do not apply. For example, if the family has a disabled member they do not need to be first-time homebuyers. The annual income of adult family members must not be less than the monthly federal SSI benefit for an individual living alone multiplied by 12.
At least one adult family member must have had full-time employment for at least one year before assistance starts. The elderly and individuals with disabilities may receive an exemption from this requirement.
Non-Elderly Disabled (NED) Vouchers
NED vouchers serve disabled persons under the age of 62 who are living in an institution or a nursing facility but want to transition to living in their own home. Some public housing units that were once exclusively reserved for and occupied by elderly tenants are now available to non-elderly, disabled tenants. Only PHAs with an approved plan are eligible for this program, so you will have to check with your local PHA to find out if they cover this service.
Find your local PHA to learn if NED Vouchers are available by clicking here
Most recipients use their Section 8 benefits for apartments or single-family homes, but if you have a disability, you can also use it to pay for a group home, shared housing, congregate housing, a room or an assisted living facility. You must request this as a "reasonable accommodation." Although property owners can turn down tenants that wish to use a Section 8 voucher, it is illegal to refuse occupancy to an individual due to a disability. If you feel this has been the case with your application, contact your local PHA.
If you find accommodations that suit your needs but require modifications to be accessible for your disability, in certain situations the HA may provide higher payments to the property owner to help cover the cost of the necessary modifications. As long as they are reasonable, landlords must accept them.
Additional Voucher Programs
- These offer substitute living spaces to families and individuals affected by demolition, disposition or the mandatory conversion of public housing units.
- This agency assists low-income and homeless veterans. We have a dedicated article on this option here
For more on the Family Unification Program, please see this HUD overview
For more on Homeownership Vouchers, please click here
For more information on NED vouchers, please click here