There are several misconceptions that people may have about participants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as the Section 8 program).
Here are a few notable facts:
According to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 2011 report, typical families in the U.S. pay one-third of their income on housing expenses. The vast majority of voucher holders have income that is just not enough to afford the costs of rental housing. If families have to spend more than that, then their housing is not considered affordable. Many families have a household income too low to afford such a large amount in housing expenses, and thus need the assistance the Housing Choice Voucher program provides.
The 2011 report also noted that nearly half of all Voucher Program participants are elderly or have a disability, and most others have at least one job, with many also raising children.
Voucher holders often want to live in and contribute to a thriving community, just like anyone else.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program expects participants to comply with the lease and program requirements, to pay their share of the rent on time, and to maintain the rental unit in good condition. Like any resident, if a Voucher Program participant causes property damage or fails to make rental payments, he/she may be evicted according to the rules of their rental agreement. A Voucher Program participant found to be non-compliant may be terminated from the program.
Housing Choice Vouchers are highly sought after by many working citizens and most housing agencies are not accepting new applications for the program because the current waiting lists are very long. Consequently, Voucher Program participants do not want to lose their vouchers; once lost, it is unlikely that they will ever receive another one. Therefore, they have strong motivation to comply with their leases and Voucher Program rules.
Oftentimes, when issues arise in a community, community members may call the local housing agency to inquire about a property and report potential violations. Because of federal laws, local housing agencies may not confirm that the house has a tenant who is a participant in the Voucher Program. However, a number of housing agencies report that in the majority of inquiries received (in some cases 9 out of 10), the identified house is not occupied by a Voucher Program participant.
In the rare cases where the reported issues are legitimate, the local housing agency investigates and acts immediately.