How Is My Section 8 Voucher Amount Determined?

The Section 8 voucher amount you are eligible to receive will have a major impact on your financial situation. However, you may be confused about the specific voucher amount you could qualify for. This is because it can be difficult to calculate exactly how much your local public housing agency (PHA) will award you if you are accepted to receive a housing voucher. 

Depending on your needs, you want to know about the potential Section 8 voucher amount for a 3 bedroom home you could qualify for. Alternatively, you may also be interested in knowing how much your PHA can assist you with affording a studio apartment in your city. You will probably need to contact your PHA to determine how much U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) benefits you could receive. 

However, you should review the following information to learn some basic principles about how housing choice voucher award amounts are distributed. This can help you gain a general understanding of the benefits you could be entitled to. 

What factors does the PHA use to determine my Section 8 voucher amount?

When determining the Section 8 voucher amounts it will distribute, PHAs take various criteria into account. Some of these relate directly to applicant households while others do not. In terms of criteria that are dependent upon the applicant, PHAs will first examine households’ incomes. Specifically, agencies will usually consider individuals’ gross annual incomes and any qualifying deductibles they have.

In addition to determining whether candidates qualify to receive a housing choice voucher, PHAs use this information to determine the benefit amounts they can receive. 

Furthermore, there are additional criteria the PHA will need to consider when determining the benefits you can receive. However, many of these other requirements do not pertain directly to you. For example, the PHA will assess your Section 8 voucher amount by reviewing: 

  • The city or area you want to live in. Different parts of the country are more expensive to live in than other parts are. To compensate for this, PHAs establish Fair Market Rent amounts. This refers to the usual amount that apartments or houses of specific sizes rent for in a particular area. 
  • How many bedrooms are in the house you want. Generally, the Section 8 voucher amount for a 2 bedroom apartment will be more than a voucher for a one-bedroom apartment. This is because larger units usually cost more. To help make larger properties more affordable for families who need them, PHAs take this into consideration. 
  • The average amount of time it takes for families to locate housing. When establishing the amount of benefits you qualify for, your PHA will also consider how long it usually takes applicants to find suitable housing in your area. 

What cities usually offer a higher Section 8 voucher amount? 

Section 8 voucher amounts usually correspond to rent prices in PHAs’ jurisdictions. As a result, this means that tenants in metropolitan areas with higher housing costs can generally expect to receive a more sizable housing voucher. While not guaranteed, this is a good rule for households to remember when they search for homes. 

The following cities have some of the highest costs of living in the United States and may offer Section 8 vouchers that correspond to generally high rental costs: 

  • New York, New York 
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • San Francisco, California
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Boston, Massachusetts 

However, keep in mind that cities with expensive rental prices usually also have high costs of living. Since Section 8 housing voucher amounts usually only cover rent prices, keep in mind that even with a program voucher, you still may not be able to afford to live in an area. 

Before you move to a new city to obtain a housing choice voucher, make sure you can afford to live in that part of the county. To make an informed decision, be sure to calculate average utility, insurance and grocery costs for that area. 

What is the usual Section 8 voucher amount for a 3 bedroom house?

In order to estimate the Section 8 voucher amount for a 3 bedroom apartment or house, you would need to decide which city you want to live in. Your voucher will likely be less in smaller towns and communities. On the other hand, your voucher would probably be greater in more expensive metropolitan parts of the country. 

Furthermore, you cannot determine the exact amount of benefits you could qualify for without contacting a PHA. The agent you speak with is a trained professional who can give you more specific information about the support you could qualify for. However, you cannot know the exact Section 8 voucher amount you can receive without applying for benefits. 

Is my utility allowance included in my Section 8 voucher amount? 

When you move into a new house or apartment, your monthly rental costs include more than just the cost of the structure you are living in. Depending on your needs, you will probably also need to pay for utilities, such as: 

  • Electricity. 
  • Water. 
  • Gas. 
  • Sewer. 
  • Garbage collection.

If you are struggling financially, it can be difficult to determine how much you can afford for utilities each month. To assist you, your Section 8 voucher amount may include utility expenses. If the unit you are renting includes utilities in your monthly fee, your PHA will provide your landlord with additional financial benefits each month. 

This means that the housing choice voucher amount associated with your account will probably be higher than it would have been if your PHA did not need to subsidize your utilities. This means that your Section 8 voucher amount for a 1 bedroom apartment when utilities are included may be higher than if your PHA did not assist you with your included utility fees. 

Similar to Section 8 voucher amounts for rent only, the utility portion of your voucher may vary. Differences in compensation is based on the: 

  • Amount of people living in your home. 
  • Types of utilities included in your rent. 
  • Appliances that are using these utilities.