Section 8 requirements in Mississippi are designed to ensure that the housing choice voucher program meets its goal of helping people in need afford and access clean, safe and stable housing. Income, age and disability status form the basis of Section 8 eligibility criteria and may be used to prioritize some applicants over others when demand for support outweighs available funding. Section 8 assistance is available to families, the elderly and persons with disabilities who have low income. Vouchers cover or subsidize the cost of renting apartments, townhomes or single-family homes in the private housing market. Recipients are allowed to select the locations and housing types most appropriate to their unique needs and circumstances.
Applicants will work with Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to document their Section 8 qualifications, learn how to apply for Section 8 assistance and implement their vouchers, if awarded. Mississippi PHAs manage and disperse Section 8 assistance in partnership with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
One of the most common questions prospective Section 8 applicants ask is “do I qualify for low income housing assistance if I have a non-traditional family?” Federal HUD housing requirements and regulations forbid PHAs to discriminate against applicants on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or family composition.
Section 8 housing eligibility guidelines define a “family” as:
Families may be classified as elderly or nearly-elderly, disabled families, or displaced families depending on their compositions.
Section 8 income limits are assessed on a sliding scale. They are determined by family size and by the median income in the area or region in which applicants live. For example, a family of two would be held to different income standards than a family of four. Similarly, a family in one city in Mississippi could expect to be held to different limits than a family living in another city with a much higher median income. The standard upper limit for Section 8 income eligibility is 50 percent of the area median income.
HUD housing requirements state, however, that PHAs must assign at least three quarters of their total available vouchers to very low-income applicants. Very low-income applicants are individuals or families with incomes below 30 percent of the median income for the areas in which they live. For example, then, if a PHA had $10,000 in vouchers to hand out and the median income in the PHAs region was $1,000, at least $7,500 of the PHA’s funding must be given to families with annual median incomes of $330 or less. The remaining $2,500 could be given to families with annual median incomes of up to $5,000.
As a result, the actual Section 8 income requirements that a family must meet to receive assistance can vary significantly.
PHAs within Mississippi may approach Section 8 housing eligibility differently when it comes to residency and citizenship requirements. Some PHAs explicitly require at least one member of applicant families to be United States citizens. Others accept applications from both citizens and eligible immigrants. All applicants must be residents of Mississippi to qualify for assistance, however.
Federal Section 8 requirements permit PHAs to offer assistance to:
Section 8 eligibility regulations specifically deny assistance to non-citizens who are visitors, tourists, diplomats, students or any other form of immigrant not meeting the above criteria.
Applicants exploring how to qualify for Section 8 housing should be aware of several other key factors which can impact or influence applicant eligibility for assistance.
Individual PHAs may have additional guidelines and eligibility criteria specific to the needs of their region or the terms of their governing agreements with HUD.
To contact your Mississippi HUD office, click here.