Section 8, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is a federal assistance program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It allows low-income, elderly and disabled U.S. citizens access to quality housing by providing housing subsidies, in the form of a housing voucher or certificate, paid directly to a landlord from the government. The family pays the difference between the landlord's rental amount after the voucher or certificate is applied. Several steps must be followed to qualify for Section 8 housing in New Jersey, just as in other states.
Pre-qualify yourself by reviewing the most recent income limits for the Housing Choice Voucher Program based on your city in New Jersey and family size in the Resources provided below. Your family income must be equal to or under the highest figure provided for your area and family size. In fiscal year 2009, maximum income thresholds in the state of New Jersey ranged from $33,550 for a family of one up to $84,500 for a family of eight.
To determine your family’s income welfare payments, rules in New Jersey state that alimony and child support must be counted, but several forms of earnings are exempt, such as income earned by children under 18, income earned by students over 18 up to $480 (as of April 2010), adoption assistance or foster child payments, inheritance, insurance payments and student financial assistance.
Locate one or several PHA (Public Housing Authority) offices within the state of New Jersey and schedule an appointment to file your Section 8 application. HUD advises that some offices may be busier than others, possibly with waiting lists and recommends applying at more than one office if necessary to speed your acceptance into the program. A list with PHA office contact information and websites can be found in the Resources provided below.
Prepare for your PHA appointment(s) by reviewing the HUD Housing Choice Voucher Guidebook. Specifically, chapter five of entitled, "Eligibility and Denial of Assistance," provided in the Resources below. It covers in detail the four factors that will influence your approval into the program: family definition, income limits, citizenship status and eviction for drug-related activity. Pages 46 to 53 outline each type of income and what is required to prove and report it to the PHA office.
Income guidelines are divided into three categories to determine the level of assistance provided: low-income, very low-income and 30 percent of the area's median.
Some PHA offices offer only low-rent and not the Section 8 program. Verify on the office directory in the Resources that the location indicates “Section 8” or “Both” in the final column. Those evicted from public housing for a drug-related offense are ineligible for Section 8 assistance for three years. The program is offered to U.S. citizens and qualified resident aliens only.