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Know Your Rights » Low Income Housing

Subsidized Housing & Section 8

Types of Housing Subsidies permalink

There are several types of housing subsidies for low-income renters in Washington. All tenants in subsidized housing are covered under the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act and many programs provide renters with additional protections above and beyond state law. For information on how to find low income housing, see Low Income Housing Search.

The most common subsidies are:

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Section 8 Vouchers permalink

1) Program Overview

Administered by Public Housing Authorities, the Housing Choice Voucher, or Section 8 voucher program, allows tenants to take a voucher to a private landlord to secure low-income housing on the private market. Voucher tenants pay 30-40% of their income to rent and the housing authority pays the difference, up to a specific payment standard, directly to the landlord. Landlords sign a contract with the housing authority, and tenants have a lease directly with the landlord. This arrangement forms a three-way contractual agreement binding together the housing authority, tenant and landlord. Tenants are eligible for Section 8 vouchers if their income is 30% of area median income or below. HUD rules require that all members of a household be able to prove legal residency.

For a full list of HUD rules, see the HUD Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidebook. All voucher programs are also governed by the housing authority’s administrative plan. Seattle Housing Authority’s Section 8 Administrative Plan is one example.

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Low Income Public Housing permalink

1) Program Overview

Low Income Public Housing (LIPH) units are owned and operated by housing authorities. Tenants pay 30% of their income to rent, minus applicable deductions. Units are subject to regular inspections by PHA management. Public housing tenants are also required to participate in monthly community service or self-sufficiency activities. Changes to income and household status must be reported to the housing authority within 10 days. Failure to do so may result in eviction. LIPH tenants are required to sign one year leases. HUD rules require that all household members receiving subsidies be able to prove legal residency. Read complete HUD rules regarding public housing in the HUD Public Housing Occupancy Guidebook.

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HUD Subsidized Housing permalink

1) Program Overview

Housing and Urban Development, or HUD housing, is also known as project based Section 8. HUD housing is multifamily complexes that are privately owned and subsidized by the federal government. HUD housing is available to people with incomes at or below 30% or 50% of the area median income, and some buildings are reserved specifically for elderly or disabled renters or people who are currently without a permanent address who are seeking housing. Generally, private owners hire companies to manage the properties. HUD inspections occur regularly to ensure housing quality and tenant income must be certified annually. Tenants are required to report all changes to household members and income to the management promptly. All household members receiving a subsidy are required to prove legal residency under HUD rules. You can read HUD rules directly at HUD Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs.

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Tax Credit Properties permalink

1) Program Overview

The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program provides housing for low- to moderate-income renters in exchange for tax credits for the developers. The LIHTC program is overseen by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

2) Waiting List and Application Process

Individual tax credit buildings maintain waiting lists and wait times vary depending on the building and the area. Individuals are screened by property ownership and management. IRS regulations specify that projects financed through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program are not required to collect social security numbers from potential residents. However, LIHTC projects still ask for social security numbers on applications and use them to determine applicants’ financial eligibility and suitability as tenants. Equivalent identification would be a Work Visa, Alien Registration Receipt Card, Temporary Resident Card, IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), or Employment Authorization Card. Failure on the part of applicants to provide social security numbers or equivalent identification could hinder or delay an LIHTC property’s ability to review their applications for housing. For more information on tenant screening, see Housing Search.

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Subsidized Housing Resources permalink

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