The Great Depression of the 1930s devastated many lives, and people found life difficult especially when trying to house their families. To that end, Congress passed the U.S. Housing Act in 1937, borne from legislation during this very dark period for our country. The Housing Act started what is now federal housing assistance. Since its inception, federal housing assistance has improved and expanded, helping more people in the process. Section 8, as it is now universally called, helps low-income families, elderly folks, and disabled people find and lease private units at a much-reduced rental rate. Many rules and regulations exist for Section 8 housing. They are complex and sometimes difficult to understand unless much of the technical jargon gets rewritten to make them easier to read and interpret.

What is Section 8? Administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Section 8 assists low-income families, the elderly, and disabled people with securing housing. Approximately 2,400 public housing agencies administer the program locally to qualified residents. The year 1961 saw an amendment to the Housing Act with the addition of Section 23 Leased Housing Program which allowed local housing authorities to lease units at a reduced rent to qualified low-income tenants, with the government subsidizing the balance of the rent. They added in 1974 Section 8 to the Housing Act, which reduced the percentage of earnings required from low-income earners for housing. After many changes, tenants receive vouchers covering approximately 70% of rent and utility costs, leaving only 30% as tenants’ responsibility.