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What Are Section 8 Rental Vouchers?

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to rent decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. Since the rental assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find and lease privately owned housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program.

Eligibility for a Housing Choice Voucher is based on the total annual income for the family size and is limited to U.S. citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, the family's income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. Median Income Levels are published by HUD and vary by location. During the application process, an applicant supplies proof of family income, assets and family composition to determine program eligibility and the amount of the rental assistance payment.

Rental Vouchers - How Do They Function?

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. A very low-income family who has been selected to participate is encouraged to consider several housing choices to secure the best rental housing for its needs. The rental unit must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before the payments to landlords under the rental voucher program can be approved. When the rental voucher holder finds a unit that it wishes to occupy and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the dwelling must be inspected and the lease must be reviewed for approval by the Housing Authority.

A rental voucher holder is also advised of the unit size for which it is eligible, based on family size and composition, and the applicable rent levels. In the rental voucher program, the Housing Authority determines a payment standard which is used to calculate the amount of rental assistance a family will receive, but does not affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family may pay.

Family Share Of Rent

Under the Housing Choice Voucher program the family has the option of selecting a unit with a rent that is more or less than the Housing Authority's payment standard. The final calculation of the family's share of the housing costs and the Housing Assistance Payment cannot be completed until the family has selected a unit.

The minimum amount a family will contribute is 30% of the family's adjusted income regardless of the unit selected.

The family share may not exceed 40% of the family's monthly adjusted income when the family initially moves into the unit or signs the first assisted lease for a unit.

​Purpose and Summary:

Mainstream Vouchers will provide assistance to assist non-elderly persons with disabilities who are:

  • Currently experiencing homelessness
  • Previously experienced homelessness and currently a client in a permanent supportive housing or rapid rehousing project

The Mainstream Vouchers must be used to assist non-elderly persons and their families with the following eligibility requirements:

  • The non-elderly person with disabilities must be at least 18 years of age and less than 62 years of age.
  • The eligible household member does not need to be the head of household.
  • Eligibility for the Voucher is determined at the time the Voucher is first issued to the family. Non-elderly persons who turn 62 years of age after receiving the Voucher will not lose their assistance.

All referrals will come from the Mainstream Voucher Referral Panel that has been established specifically for these Vouchers. The telephone number to contact is 717-397-5182 ext. 8. The referral panel consists of several local agencies who will determine who would qualify for a Mainstream Voucher. These referrals will then be placed on a waiting list in the order that they are referred.

Please take note that being referred does not guarantee that you will necessarily receive assistance as you still must meet all the required eligibility requirements for the Housing Choice Voucher Program (also known as Section 8).

Again, please remember in all cases to be eligible for Mainstream Vouchers someone in the immediate family must be 18 years of age and less than 62 years of age. They must also fit into one of the two categories listed above. Also, please remember that the only way that you can be placed on the waiting list is by referral.

In issuing these new vouchers, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has provided definitions for the eligible preference categories if you are under 62 years of age and are disabled. Those definitions are included as an attachment to this description. That attachment is part of the original competition among housing authorities for the vouchers. The document that contained this information is called a Notice Of Funding Availability (NOFA). In detail it explains the definition of who may qualify for these vouchers. Please click here to view the attachment.