Section 8 (Rental Assistance)

The Section 8 Program is the Federal Government's major operating program providing assistance for low-income families in the private rental market through the Housing Assistance Payments Program. The Section 8 Program places the choice of housing in the hands of the consumer. Under this program, lower income eligible families are encouraged to negotiate directly with landlords to locate rental housing best suited to their needs and which meets both rental and housing quality requirements of the program.
How it Works

Eligible participants select a unit from the private rental market. Rental assistance makes market rate housing affordable for the family. Program participants normally pay no more than 30% of their monthly adjusted income towards rent and utilities. The housing assistance payment subsidizes the balance of the rent to the property owner.

The rental assistance payments are made directly to the landlord each month as long as the tenant continues in occupancy and the unit is maintained in standard condition. If the landlord fails to meet his obligations under the contract, the city has the right to terminate assistance payments. The landlord is responsible for collecting the tenant's portion of the rent each month.

The landlord's role is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to tenants at a reasonable rent. The rental unit must pass inspection to insure that it meets the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) housing quality standards (HQS) and stay in compliance for as long as the owner receives rental assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease with the tenant.

Lease & Contract

After the unit passes inspection and the rent has been approved, the landlord and tenant enter into a lease for an initial term of one year, and the housing authority (HA) and the landlord sign a Housing Assistance Payments Contract, through which the rent is assisted for one year. After one year, the lease is renewed for a specified time period.


After the initial term of the lease (12 months), the tenant may vacate with a 30-day notice. If the tenant remains in the unit, the tenant must be recertified for eligibility. The unit must be inspected for HQS annually, at which time the landlord may request an annual adjustment in the rent. The request for rent increase must be received 60 days prior to the lease renewal and must be approved by the HA.