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Section 8 Vouchers - Special Cases

The Section 8 housing voucher program offers a number of special 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. If you meet the eligibility requirements, submit a complete and accurate application, receive your approval, and take your turn on a waiting list you will eventually be provided with this life changing assistance. In most cases, a Housing Choice Voucher recipient 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 that can be used in specific situations. Here we will take a deeper look at 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 below 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, as well as to individuals 18-21 years of age that no longer have a home within the foster care system. In order to qualify, families and youths must currently lack adequate housing.

How Does It Work?

Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) administer the Family Unification Program in partnership with Public Child Welfare Agencies (PCWAs). These welfare agencies are tasked with determining if the family or independent youth meets all of the various 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 the Housing Choice Voucher waiting list. The PHA will then perform the standard investigation in order to determine if the family or independent youth meets the specific eligibility requirements. It is important to note that NOT all PHA's facilitate the Family Unification Program. You must make sure that the PHA in your area does before proceeding.

Eligibility Requirements

As mentioned above, both FUP and the Housing Voucher Program have their own 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" is considered 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.

To learn more about this program, please click here.

Family Unification Changes Lives

Each family's story is unique and different. Many people have had children during times where 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.

For more information on this program please click here (PDF).

Homeownership Vouchers
Owning a home can change a family's life. It provides a stronger sense of 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 Vouchers are made possible through the Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program. This program has the ability to offer home loans at below-market interest rates to current recipients who wish to purchase a home of their own. It allows for eligible buyers to use their Section 8 Voucher towards payment of a monthly mortgage.

Qualification Guidelines

In order 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 home buyers. 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 who will own the home must currently have full time employment and have been continuously employed on that full time basis for at least one year prior to the commencement of assistance. If given an exemption, this requirement is not enforced for the elderly and individuals with disabilities.

To learn more about the requirements and purchasing process please click here.

Non-Elderly Disabled (NED) Vouchers
NED vouchers are designated for 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. Over the course of the past few years, significant amounts of public housing that was exclusively reserved and occupied by elderly tenants has given way to change. Certain approved PHAs have allocated percentages of these to non-elderly, disabled tenants, however, only PHAs with an approved plan are eligible for this program. Find your local PHA to learn if NED Vouchers are available by clicking here.

Most recipients use their Section 8 vouchers 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 will need to specifically request this as a "reasonable accommodation". Although landlords are given the right to 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 landlord to help cover the cost of the necessary modifications. As long as they are deemed reasonable, landlords must allow them.

For more information on NED vouchers please click here.

Additional Voucher Programs
Conversion Vouchers - These offer substitute living spaces to families and individuals affected by demolition, disposition or the mandatory conversion of public housing units.

HUD-VASH - Helps provide assistance to low-income and homeless veterans. We have a dedicated article on this option available here.