TEXAS SECTION 8 FAQS

1. How are the income limits for my area determined?

Federal law requires The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to establish area income limits on an annual basis. HUD uses researched estimates of median income in specific locations, and then adjusts these limits according to family size.

2. After my family submits the Section 8 application, how long will we have to wait before receiving a preliminary notice of eligibility?

The waiting period for a preliminary notice of Section 8 eligibility depends upon the local Public Housing Authority (PHA). The policy of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) is to respond to applicants within 10 business days of the application date.

3. If my family is placed on the Section 8 waiting list, does it mean that we are eligible for assistance?

Not necessarily. For example, a family’s total household income may grow and exceed the limit while the family is still on the waiting list. Once a family is selected from the waiting list, the PHA will conduct a final determination of eligibility.

4. After my family receives notice of eligibility, do we need to do anything else to receive a voucher?

The TDHCA suggests that PHAs conduct eligibility interviews with applicants selected from the waiting list. The information shared at this interview helps the PHA make a final determination of eligibility. The TDHCA requires families selected from its own waiting list to undergo an eligibility interview.

5. Are all members of my household required to attend the eligibility interview?

The TDHCA requires only the head of the household or the spouse/co-head to attend the interview. However, it strongly recommends that both the head and spouse/co-head attend the interview. Local PHAs have their own policies on interview attendance.

6. How does the Texas Section 8 program define the term “head of household”?

Generally, the term “head of household” refers to an adult member of the family who is designated as the family’s head and is responsible for making sure that the family complies with the Section 8 program. Individual PHAs may define the term in slightly different ways.

7. If my family becomes eligible, do we receive any information or guidance about how to use our voucher?

All PHAs must provide both an information packet and an oral briefing for newly eligible housing assistance families. These requirements help ensure that beneficiary households understand their obligations and the program’s rules.

8. What do the oral briefings and information packets cover? 

Oral briefings must cover certain topics, including the rules of the voucher program, the voucher’s approved rental area and the responsibilities of families and unit owners. Packets must include many additional topics, including voucher terms, an explanation of payment calculation methods, unit selection criteria and a copy of the housing discrimination complaint form.

9. One requirement for Section 8 approval is the “rent reasonableness” of a rental unit. How does the PHA determine rent reasonableness when approving a unit for Section 8 eligibility?

When determining rent reasonableness, the PHA must compare a unit’s rent to comparable units in the area. The PHA compares factors such as housing location, age, size, construction type, construction quality, upkeep and amenities covered by the rent.

10. Can I use my housing choice voucher to rent my current place of residence?

Yes. If your present residence meets the requirements of the Texas Section 8 program, and the property owner agrees to rent the housing under the program, then you may use your voucher to continue renting the unit.

11. What is the minimum length of the lease I am required to sign?

A new voucher-holding family must sign a lease that lasts one year or longer. When the lease ends, the family may sign a new long-term lease or stay in the residence under a month-to-month lease.

12. What are my family’s responsibilities while renting with Section 8 assistance?

Among other responsibilities, families receiving Section 8 assistance must take proper care of the housing unit, permit the PHA to conduct scheduled inspections, avoid engaging in criminal activity and notify the PHA of changes to family composition.

14. Can a PHA terminate my housing assistance? 

Yes. HUD requires Texas PHAs to terminate rental payment assistance when a family has gone 180 days without qualifying for rental payment. HUD also requires the PHA to terminate assistance when a family has been evicted from a participating unit for a serious or repeated violation of the lease.

15. What do I do if my family experiences the birth or adoption of a new member?

You must notify your PHA in writing as soon as possible and request approval to add the new family member as a unit occupant. The THDCA requires notification and approval before the new member moves in to the unit.

17. If a family breaks up, do any members continue to receive assistance?

PHAs can decide which family members continue to receive assistance. However, the PHA must cooperate with any court decisions dictating which family members continue to receive Section 8 payments.

18. As a person with a disability, what rights do I have when applying for or receiving Section 8 assistance?

The PHA must provide reasonable accommodations to a Section 8 applicant or beneficiary who has a disability. The term reasonable accommodations is flexible, but it generally refers to changes, exceptions or adjustments to PHA rules and policies that do not require an undue burden for the PHA.

19. Will the PHA need to verify a household member’s disability?

If a family requests accommodations for a disabled household member, the PHA must obtain third-party verification of the disability, unless the disability is obvious or otherwise known to the PHA.

20. Does a PHA count a live-in aide when determining the family unit size?

Yes. Live-in aides can reside in a unit to care for a member who is disabled or 50 years of age or older and must be approved by the PHA.

21. What special types of housing are available through the Section 8 Housing Program? 

Special housing types include single room occupancy (SRO) units, congregate housing units, group homes, shared housing, cooperative housing and manufactured homes.

23. Does the Texas Section 8 program accommodate persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP)?

HUD requires PHAs to offer free services to accommodate LEP persons in courtrooms, hearings or any other important program-related situations. PHAs may also offer translation of written materials.