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Section 8 housing assistance is available to residents of South Dakota in the form of public housing and housing choice vouchers. Public housing, or “Project Based Section 8,” provides eligible low-income families, disabled individuals and senior citizens with safe and decent rental housing at significantly discounted rates. Housing choice vouchers, or “Tenant Based Section 8 Voucher,” provides the same pool of individuals and families who meet Section 8 requirements with vouchers that help cover the costs of renting housing in certain participating properties. Residents can seek either type of Section 8 assistance from their local Public Housing Authority (PHA).
When investigating Section 8 qualifications in SD, you may find long waiting lists at some PHAs. You may, therefore, wish to apply for Section 8 assistance at two or more PHAs for the best chances of finding housing fast. Each PHA you visit can provide you a list of locations in the area it serves to which you can apply your Section 8 voucher. More information on Section 8 vouchers is located at the Public and Indian Housing (PIH) Information Resource Center. If you do not meet specific Section 8 qualifications, there are other forms of rental assistance you may qualify for in South Dakota, including privately-owned subsidized housing, USDA rural housing and homeless coordinated entry systems.
One of the Section 8 requirements is that you meet the definition of a “family” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). To do this, you must provide the name of every member of the household who would live in the housing unit. You must further include each person’s date of birth, gender and relationship to the head of the family.
If there are certain family circumstances, such as living in substandard housing, or characteristics, such as veteran status, that may qualify your family for preferences in tenant selection, you must explain them in your application. Part of the Section 8 eligibility standards states you must provide additional verification of family status, such as birth certificates of declared family members, when asked. You may also be subject to a visit to your current home from a PHA representative to verify your family status and interview family members to determine how your household manages upkeep of the home.
Section 8 housing eligibility also requires you to meet the definition of a “low-income” family. Your household must earn less than a certain annual gross income based on the number of people in your household. HUD sets the income limits to determine eligibility for Section 8 assistance. HUD sets three Section 8 income limits: low, very-low and extremely-low income limits. The low-income limit is 80 percent, the very low income limit is 50 percent and the extra low income limit is 30 percent of the median income for a family of the same size in that South Dakota County.
Because the valuations of income limits are partly based on geographic area, your Section 8 eligibility may also vary by county. To be sure your family meets the appropriate income limits for the area where you wish to live, check with the housing authority serving that area what the specific income limits are for the area for a family of your family’s size. Your family’s Section 8 housing eligibility is directly affected by the lower the income of your family.
The HUD housing requirements, when determining the rent for which your family is eligible, called the Total Tenant Payment (TTP), takes your family’s expected gross annual income and subtracts deductions. HUD permits PHAs to deduct $480 for every dependent in the family as well as another $400 for any member of the family who either is elderly or has a disability. There are additional medical deductions a family may qualify for as well.
Once all deductions allowed by Section 8 qualifications are subtracted from your family’s expected gross annual income, this adjusted income is divided by 12 to determine the adjusted monthly income. The TTP for which your family is eligible is the greatest of the following numbers, rounded to the closest dollar:
When wondering, “Do I qualify for low income housing?” you must also examine your residency and legal presence status. At least one member of your family must be a citizen of the U.S. or an eligible immigrant in order for your family to qualify for Section 8 assistance. You must also be able to prove South Dakota residency to meet HUD housing requirements in South Dakota. You may use any government-issued identification in order to prove citizenship or legal presence and residency.
When considering how to qualify for Section 8 housing, remember that, when you apply for Section 8 assistance, you consent to a criminal background check. You also agree to let the PHA contact current and former landlords to inquire about your family’s suitability as tenants and history of evictions. If you or a member of your family is found to have a criminal record or involvement in drug-related criminal activity, you may be disqualified from Section 8 assistance. If your current or former landlords fail to give your family a good recommendation or you have a history of evictions, particularly in previous Section 8 or public housing, it does not matter if you meet requirements. You may still fail to be granted further public housing for a period of at least 3 years. As long as you continue to maintain Section 8 housing eligibility for public housing or housing choice vouchers through South Dakota’s Section 8 program and provided you comply with your lease, you can remain in Section 8 housing indefinitely. If, upon future reexamination of your family’s income, the PHA discovers you now qualify to obtain private market housing, that PHA decides whether your family can remain in public housing.
To contact your South Dakota HUD office, click here.