Section 8 Vouchers: Where Can You Use Them

When looking for a rental unit, it is important to know the policies and regulations that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have set when it comes to accepting Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.

The monthly rent of the unit should meet the housing authority’s Payment Standards. The Payment Standards are the maximum rent a household may pay with their voucher monthly. Check the local housing authority's website or contact them to know more about the Payment Standards in the area you are looking into.

All units, whether an apartment or a house, are inspected and must be approved by the local housing authority to ensure that they abide by the HUD’s housing standards. Inspectors examine the overall condition of the unit. This includes the structure, sanitation systems, and running water, among others. Animal infestations are also checked.

Moreover, there are numerous areas in the country that protect holders of Section 8 vouchers by making it illegal for landlords to refuse a renter solely because they are voucher holders. For voucher holders not in those areas, you must look for a landlord who is willing to accept your voucher.

Here are lists of places where you can or cannot use your Section 8 vouchers according to HUD standards.

Where your Section 8 Voucher can be used:

  • All houses or apartments that are owned by private landlords in Section 8 protected areas like Connecticut, New Jersey, Vermont, Miami-Dade County, Florida, Cook County, Illinois, San Francisco, California, Syracuse, New York, and Seattle, Washington, among others.
  • Houses or apartments which are owned by private landlords who are willing to accept the housing voucher, except if the house or apartment is located in an area protected by a source of income discrimination laws.
  • Unless the property has a full Project-Based Section 8 contract attached to it, a Section 515 Rural Rental Housing property which has units without rental assistance.
  • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit units, except if the unit has a Project-Based Section 8 or USDA Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance grant attached to it.
  • Qualified units owned by the housing authority that manages assistance under an Annual Contributions Contract, provided these requirements are met:
    1. A Section 515 Rural Rental Housing property that has units with no rental assistance, except if the property has a full Project-Based Section 8 contract on it.
    2. The household is not accepting any additional form of housing grant.
    3. The housing authority uses an HUD-approved autonomous entity, like the local government, to define fair rent, help the household in negotiating the rent with the owner, and examine the unit.
    4. The housing authority has kept the household up to date verbally that they have the right to choose any available qualified unit, and the housing authority-owned unit is chosen without any influence from the housing authority.

Where your Section 8 Voucher cannot be used:

  • College or school dormitories.
  • Penal, reformatory, mental, medical, or similar public or private institution units.
  • Public or Indian Housing units.
  • Project-Based Section 8 properties
  • Units subsidized by the following: USDA Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance, HUD Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, HUD Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, or other federal, state, or local rent subsidies, excluding welfare or social security.