You may be able to buy a house with Section 8 vouchers! That’s right, friends… I just said you can literally BUY A HOUSE with Section 8 housing choice vouchers. Instead of spending this money on rent every month, now you can invest it in a home that you actually own!
What is Section 8?
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is designed to help very low-income, elderly and/or disabled people find safe, affordable, sanitary housing. Section 8 participants receive a subsidy that is paid directly to the landlord. The family is then responsible for paying the difference between the voucher amount and the actual rent amount.
Section 8 is managed by local housing authorities, known as public housing agencies (PHAs). Although the money is granted from federal funds distributed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), it is up to the PHA to decide whether or not participants can use their vouchers toward the purchase of a modest home.
YES, THIS IS NATIONWIDE!
Our previous information, included below, indicated that this might be a regional program… but further research indicates that this is available nationwide!
Not all Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) participate in this program but there are participating programs in every state. You can see a list of participating PHAs here.
You may be able to apply for this program in a participating PHA even if you don’t live in that zone. However, preference is given to residents and you may be required to live in the new zone for 1 year before receiving services. Contact your nearest PHA for more information.
What is the Section 8 Home Ownership Program?
The Home Ownership Program allows Section 8 recipients to purchase a home instead of sending the funds on rent. Instead of giving their funds to landlords, qualifying families can instead invest the funds on a home they actually own!
Families who qualify can receive up to 15 years of Section 8 Home Ownership Assistance (on a 20+ year mortgage; only 10 years for mortgages for less than 20 years). If your household includes a disabled or elderly member, these limits do not apply.
Families can also receive assistance with down payments, closing costs, and may even receive lower interest rates!
Participants will need to make a down payment toward the purchase. You will be required to provide at least three percent (3%) of the home purchase price. At least one percent (1%) of the purchase price must come from the family’s personal resource, such as a savings account, IDA account or S8A Savings account. The remaining 2% can be made up with contributions from other programs.
Your local PHA will provide comprehensive home ownership counseling and referrals to pre-approved realtors and lenders.
Who qualifies to buy a house with Section 8 vouchers?
Qualifying families must meet the following criteria:
- You must a first-time homeowner OR a member of the family must have a disability. As long as no household member has had ownership interest in a residence during the last three years, you are considered a first-time homeowner. Single parents or displaced homemakers who previously owned a home with a spouse are also considered first-time homeowners.
- You must meet a minimum income requirement. The family income must be equal to or more than the federal minimum hourly wage multiplied by 2,000 hours. At the time of this writing, that’s $14,500 per year. You cannot count the financial benefits from any welfare-type assistance programs.
- You must meet certain employment criteria UNLESS you are elderly or disabled. The primary homeowner must be employed full-time (at least 30 hours per week on average) and have been continuously employed for an entire year prior to the purchase of the home.
- You must participate in home ownership counseling. The family must attend and participate in the PHA’s pre-assistance home ownership and housing counseling program.
- You must meet other requirements as specified by your local PHA. For example, the Housing Opportunities of SW Washington (HOSWW) Section 8 Advantage Program requires you to use Section 8 vouchers on a rental for at least 12 months before using them to purchase a home. If you haven’t already used Section 8 vouchers for 12 months, you are not eligible for this program. Different PHAs have different rules – contact yours to find out what other requirements you may face.
What does the program give me?
You’ll receive vouchers equal to the normal voucher payment program schedule. The payment is the lesser of either the home-ownership expenses minus the family’s contribution or the payment standard minus the family’s contribution. The payments are usually made directly to the lender.
The family is required to pay approximately 30% of their adjusted monthly income toward the housing expenses. However, if the house costs more than the Section 8 program will cover your family may have to contribute more.
How do I apply?
If you live in southwest Washington, you can contact Lori Parsons at Housing Opportunities of SW Washington. Just call (360) 423-0140 ext. 33. The office is open Monday through Thursday between 10 am and 4:30 pm. For more information, please click here.
If you live elsewhere, start by contacting your local PHA and inquiring about the programs they offer…
…or leave me a note in the comments and I’ll see what I can find!