What Is the Project-Based Section 8 Program?

The Project-Based Section 8 program provides affordable apartment communities that are owned by private landlords with a rental subsidy that helps pay the rent for low income tenants. Called the Total Tenant Payment (TTP), program tenants pay either 1) 10% of their monthly income (gross income minus exclusions), 2) 30% of their monthly adjusted income (gross income minus exclusions and deductions) or 3) a minimum rent of $25. The Project-Based Section 8 rental subsidy may be available for every unit in a property, or a select number of units in the apartment community.

Don’t confuse this with the Section 8 Project-Based Voucher (PBV) program, which is part of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. The PBV program is managed by a Public Housing Authority an offshoot of its Housing Choice Voucher program.

How Do I Know If I'm Eligible for the Project-Based Section 8 Program?

Step 1: Confirm that you meet the basic qualifications.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, and a United States citizen or non-citizen who has eligible immigration status*. Single persons are eligible, as well as households with or without children. HUD commonly refers to a household as a “family,” so don’t let that term confuse you. A “family” consists of one or more persons, and having children is not required to be considered a “family.” However, single persons are not permitted to occupy an apartment unit with two or more bedrooms. If a Project-Based Section 8 property does not have any one bedroom units, a single person household would not qualify.

*Eligible immigration status includes a lawful permanent resident; registry immigrant; refugee or asylee; conditional entrant; parolee; withholding grantee; person granted 1986 amnesty status; resident of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, and Guam; victim or relative of a victim of trafficking.

Step 2: Calculate your household’s income.

The household must make less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) of the area they are applying to. This is referred to as the income limit, and the amount increases for each additional member of the household (including children). The income limit in a specific area can be found by using Affordable Housing Online search bar at the top of this page, and scrolling down to the chart in the “Understanding Affordable Housing - Rental Assistance” section. The income limits for this program are in the chart titled “HUD Rental Assistance Income Limits.” Project-based Section 8 properties often provide the income limits in their public notice announcing the opening, or the information may be available on its website. There are many possible adjustments to a household’s gross income including exclusions (like the income of household members under 18) and deductions (unreimbursed medical expenses). Because determining income is so complex, we recommend you contact each property to determine if you are eligible and what your rent will be.

Step 3: Determine if there are any restrictions.

A Project-Based Section 8 community may be reserved for elderly or disabled tenants.

Step 4: Be aware of common factors that may disqualify an application.

Applicants will likely have to submit to a credit report. An applicant is not required to have good credit, but a poor credit report may make you ineligible. Credit decisions are made on a property by property basis and depending on the geographic area and financial standards of each property owner, your credit requirements can be very different for each apartment property you apply to.

The household’s rental history is also taken into consideration. A list of prior landlords may be required, including the address of the property and landlord contact information. In addition, the property manager may contact previous landlords for a reference. If you have a poor track record as a tenant at other properties, you could be at risk of being rejected as a qualifying tenant. Always try to keep a good relationship with every landlord and never leave a lease on bad terms.

A criminal background check will often be required, as well. Having a criminal record may make it difficult for a person to be approved for housing, but it does not automatically disqualify you. Generally, a person with an arrest record, but no conviction, has a greater chance of qualifying over someone who has been convicted of a crime. Each community operates differently, but may allow persons with a criminal record to qualify based on the length of time since the offense occurred, and the severity of the crime. In a 2015 Notice, HUD issued specific guidance to both housing authorities and private landlords reminding them 1) “one-strike” policies are not required, 2) arrests are not evidence of criminal activity, and 3) affordable housing tenants still have the right to due process… Registered sex offenders do not qualify.

Be truthful with the information you write on an application. Putting false information on the application may not only disqualify you, but also get you in legal trouble. If you are unsure about what to write down in a section of the application, contact the property.


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