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Section 8 Homeownership

Section 8 and Public Housing Authorities (PHAs)  - A general overview


The Section 8, or Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) is the federal government's program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.


The most common type of Section 8 housing assistance is the tenant-based rental assistance. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.


Another form of Section 8 assistance is the low-income public housing program (project-based), which provides low-rent units for low-income families and individuals.   While it may be easier to get into this program, participants are limited to a supply of houses designated by the PHA.


The last program under the HCVP is the homeownership program.  In this program, if authorized by the PHA, a family may use its voucher to purchase a modest home.  These participants need to have held a rental voucher from that PHA for at least one year in good standing to be eligible for the homeownership program.


To apply for Section 8 assistance, one must apply at a local PHA.  PHAs differ greatly in their policies on handling applications.  Some have year-round sign-up for their waiting lists; others have short enrollment periods; and still others distribute vouchers through a one-day lottery system.   You will have to contact individual PHAs to find out how they treat their waiting lists.


PHAs may establish local preferences for selecting applicants from its waiting list. For example, PHAs may give a preference to a family who is (1) homeless or living in substandard housing, (2) paying more than 50% of its income for rent, or (3) involuntarily displaced. Families who qualify for any such local preferences move ahead of other families on the list who do not qualify for any preference. Each PHA has the discretion to establish local preferences to reflect the housing needs and priorities of its particular community.  NOTE: A housing provider must make reasonable accommodations for the applicant with special needs. 


Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the PHA based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, the family's income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. By law, a PHA must provide 75 percent of its voucher to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30 percent of the area median income.


Securing the Section 8 vouchers can be difficult, but possible.  For people with special needs on low-incomes, the public housing subsidy is an essential component for living independently in quality, affordable housing of their choice. 


Many Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) throughout Colorado offer the Section 8 Homeownership (Housing Choice Voucher) Program.  The organizations that currently participate in the Section 8 Homeownership Program are listed below.  If you receive a Section 8 voucher from a PHA that is not participating, the HERO Alliance encourages you to contact them and let them know you are intertested in homeownership.  Everyone deserves the right to homeownership if the are able


Section 8 Homeownership Participants

Colorado Division of Housing
Contractor list -
303-866-2033 or  1-866-327-8877 TTY
Fort Collins Housing Authority - http://fchousing.org - 970-416-2910  or 1-800-659-3656 TTY

Grand Junction Housing Authority - www.gjha.org - 970-245-0388

Jefferson County Housing Authority -
http://www.jcha.org - 303-422-8600

La Junta Housing Authority  - 719-384-9055

Lakewood Housing Authority -
www.lakewood.org  - 303-987-7599

Otero County Housing Authority - 719-384-9055

Pueblo Housing Authority  http://pueblo.us/documents/Housing/PuebloHousingBookletJune05.pdf

 What can you do if your PHA doesn't participate in the Homeownership Program?

Each PHA that operates independently has the ability to chose whether or not they participate in the Section 8 Homeownership Program.  Some PHAs provide downpayment assistance or self-sufficiency programs to help persons achieve homeownership.  For many persons who are unable to work due to a disability and who are low-income, these programs are not enough to help them achieve homeownership.  The HERO Alliance continues to work with non-participating PHAs to encourage them to consider the Section 8 Homeownership Program. However, they also need to hear from their own clients so that they understand there is a demand for the program.

1. Contact your PHA and express your interest in the program.  Attend their yearly public hearing and express your interest in the program.  All information shared at the public hearingsis forwarded to HUD.  These steps will help your PHA know that there is a desire for this program and the information at the public hearing will go on record with HUD.  Below is a sample letter that can be personalized and sent to PHAs informing them of your desire for the program.

2.  Ask your PHA is your voucher can be transferred or ported to another PHA.  You cannot transfer to a PHA that serves the same area in which you currently live.  For example, you might be able to transfer from Aurora to Denver, but not from Denver to another PHA in Denver.  If you are able to transfer your voucher to a PHA that participates in the Section 8 Homeownership Program, you will have to move to the area and live in it for a year as a renter in good standing before you will be eligible for the homeownership program.

PHA Sample Letter