Missouri Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) use federal Section 8 requirements to qualify individuals and families to receive essential housing assistance. Section 8 housing vouchers are funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and allow recipients to access or remain in private housing appropriate to their needs. Applicants can meet Section 8 qualifications if they are elderly, disabled, low or very low income. Income limits are assessed on a sliding scale that takes into account family size and the median income for all households in the region.
Applicants who meet the baseline criteria may be subject to additional Section 8 eligibility factors. PHAs routinely screen applicants for negative housing histories, such as a pattern of lease breaking. They also look for criminal histories which indicate the applicants would present a threat to their communities. These screenings help PHAs ensure that housing assistance goes to applicants most likely to be successful in the program.
Section 8 housing eligibility guidelines define a “family” as a single person or a group a persons who live together. Individuals in a household may be elderly, disabled or neither. Families may include children under the age of 18, but are not required to. Children are counted as part of a family even if they are temporarily in an alternative living placement such as foster care. Live-in aides may be counted as part of a family if they are crucial to the support and well-being of the elderly or disabled individuals for whom they are caring.
By law, HUD housing requirements and the PHAs implementing them cannot discriminate against individuals or families on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Families in which the head of household and/or his or her spouse has qualifying disabilities may be designated “disabled families.” Likewise, families whose heads of household are elderly or near-elderly may be marked as “elderly families.” These designations cannot hurt applicants’ Section 8 eligibility but may improve the likelihood that they receive assistance.
Section 8 income limits vary by household size and region. PHAs use a sliding scale to compare families’ incomes to the median incomes for the region the agency oversees. For example, in the St. Louis area, the maximum income limit for a single person household is $26,900, while the maximum income limit for a family of four is $38,400. The limits for families of those sizes will vary among PHAs around the state because each city or region has its own distinct median income against which applicant income is evaluated.
Section 8 income requirements are based on households’ annual income. Annual income measurements include all monies earned or received by all members of the home. This includes but is not limited to wages, interest paid from investments, pensions and spousal or child support payments.
Federal Section 8 eligibility guidelines state that households with annual incomes at or below 80 percent of the median income for their area qualify as “low income” and households with annual incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income are “very low income.” Due to the extensive demand for assistance, however, many PHAs in Missouri restrict eligibility applications to:
Applicants who are unsure of their eligibility are encouraged to contact their local PHAs for specific information on the income limits in their region. Applicants who do not meet the Section 8 income limits set by their local PHAs may apply for and receive assistance through other Missouri PHAs with different income limits if they are willing to relocate into that PHAs region when awarded. Section 8 participants already receiving assistance may also lose coverage if they experience a change in income or family composition.
Applicants for Section 8 assistance in Missouri regularly ask, “do I qualify for low income housing assistance if I am not a resident?” Under HUD housing requirements, applicants must be citizens of the United States or eligible non-citizens in order to receive housing assistance. Non-citizens qualify for Section 8 if they have been:
Applicants must be residents of Missouri to apply for Section 8 assistance in the state.
In addition to qualifying via income level, disability status or age, applicants must satisfy a variety of other criteria to qualify for section 8 housing. Some supplemental eligibility factors are established by federal guidelines. Others may be unique to a specific PHA based on regional needs and resources. In general, applicants can expect to be denied assistance for any or all of the following.
By law, applicants’ Section 8 housing eligibility cannot be negatively impacted on grounds that they were victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking or similar crimes. Nor can they be discriminated against due to race, religion or any other protected characteristic. Neither PHAs nor landlords can violate Section 8 tenant rights.
PHAs are permitted by law to grant priority status to certain sub-populations and to serve applicants meeting their preferred criteria before providing assistance to other families who applied first. For example, a PHA may classify displaced families as a priority population in their region and move qualifying applicants to the top of the waiting list ahead of other, non-displaced awardees.
To contact your Missouri HUD office, click here.