What is a Section 8 Housing? A Comprehensive Guide for 2024

Blog May 2024

Section 8 housing, also known as the housing choice voucher program, is a government program that offers subsidized housing for low-income families and individuals. For those wondering what is a Section 8 housing investment, this government-funded program allows landlords and investors to enjoy secure rental income with screened tenants.

Managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), this program offers rental assistance to eligible participants, allowing them to afford rental properties approved for Project 8 housing. 

At GCG Real Estate, we specialize in Section 8 housing USA and aid investors in maximizing the advantages while eliminating the hassles of tenant management and due diligence. This comprehensive guide to Section 8 will help you as an investor understand what is an affordable housing 8 investment and how you as a landlord can navigate the intricacies of the programs legal framework in 2024 to realize your investment returns.


What is a Section 8 Housing Investment?


Whether you choose Single family or Multifamily properties, investors have much to gain from investing in Section 8 housing, with the program offering a wealth of advantages. As the landlord you enjoy a stable rental income from the government, and the tenant lease for Section 8 is considerably longer than market averages. The most compelling advantage is indeed the excess demand from tenants waiting to secure rental units. 

It’s important to familiarize oneself with the various types of affordable housing available under this program, alongside exploring legal and financial obligations.

Overseas investors are often unable to deal with government officials and keep track of legalities but an astute property management can eliminate these struggles. Enlisting professional support is a pragmatic approach to maximizing advantages and avoiding legal challenges.

Types of Project 8 Housing


To figure out what is a Section 8 housing program that aligns with your investment needs, it’s crucial to differentiate between the two common types of rental assistance provided by project 8 housing.

Types of project 8 housing

Project-Based Voucher (PBV) Program


Commonly known as project-based assistance, the PBV program provides financial assistance to screened tenants in approved housing sites and rental units. Under the PBV program, the rental assistance is associated with the unit and tenants who relocate or are evicted do not qualify for further assistance. 

The approved units are typically multi-family properties and senior housing complexes, and the HUD maintains extensive waiting lists of 2-bedroom units with varying bedroom sizes. Multi-family investments under the PBV program are ideally suited for institutional investors as they demand a sizable investment, typically 400K+ with multiple units in a single building. 


The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program


Also dubbed the voucher-based assistance program, HCV allows tenants to decide where they wish to reside. Eligible tenants can enjoy financial assistance as they explore their local residential real estate market to find a property that aligns with their needs and budget. The HCV program is more suitable for single investors looking to invest in single-family properties with straightforward property and tenant management responsibilities. 


Qualifying for Section 8 Housing USA


The process of qualifying as a project 8 housing landlord is unique for each state, but it can take up to 60 to 90 days and typically involves a lot of paperwork, official inspections and approvals.

Here’s a typical application process for property owners to apply and participate in the Section 8 housing program:

  1. Visit the official HUD website and submit the Section 8 Landlord application. You will have to fill out some personal information alongside financial and legal details concerning the rental units.
  2. If the application is approved, the local Public Housing Agency (PHA) will send an inspection team to examine your property thoroughly.
  3. During this inspection, the officials will tour the premises and examine each unit for habitability and health and safety standards. The inspectors will examine the structure, fixtures and key systems like HVAC systems, electric wiring and plumbing.
  4. If your rental units meet the HUD and PHA eligibility requirements, you will receive an approval letter stating your eligibility to participate in the project 8 housing program.
  5. Once you receive the approval letter, your next step is to submit an application seeking tenancy approval from the HUD. This application form requires personal information and details about the rental units.
  6. If the HUD approves the property to participate in its rental assistance program, you will receive an approval letter. This letter will include the government’s quote for the fair market rent, which is the monthly rental income you will collect. Suppose you normally get $2,000 for your two-bedroom rental unit. Under Section 8 Housing USA, you will collect $1,800 from the government and $200 from your tenant.
  7. Property owners are advised to negotiate with the HUD authorities to come to a mutually agreeable rate. Once the rental rate is decided, you will obtain your Housing Assistance Payments Contract containing the lease agreement.
  8. After your Request for Tenancy Approval is approved, you will begin getting letters from potential tenants eager to rent your units through the rental assistance program.

Note: It is pertinent to note that property owners are required to maintain specific housing quality standards under Section 8 housing program. The exact standards vary based on the rules set by the local Public Housing Agency (PHA). It’s wise to familiarize yourself with the local requirements before your scheduled inspection.

 GCG Advantage
At GCG Real Estate, we are well-versed in handling Section 8 legalities and our legal team is with you to review, advise and help you at every step of the process.


What is a Section 8 Housing Contract?


Investors wondering what is a Section 8 housing contract need to familiarize themselves with the legalities involved in the process. Once approved to participate in the program, property owners enter a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract, under which their rental units must comply with HUD regulations. The exact duration of the contract varies, typically falling between 5 to 20 years.

Property owners reserve the right to decide if they want to renew their Section 8 housing contracts after the expiry date. 

Investors can explore multiple contract renewal options to maximize their advantages, such as requesting a raised rent. If property owners decide against renewing the contract, HUD provides enhanced vouchers to their current tenants.

These vouchers allow the tenants to meet their increased rental obligations and continue living in the same units. Section 8 tenants also cannot be evicted, unless they committed serious violations of the lease contract.

At the end of the contract, property owners can explore the following contract renewal strategies:

  • Investors who want to explore other real estate opportunities can decide not to renew the HAP contract.
  • Investors who’re satisfied with the arrangement and wish to continue can renew the contract with the previously agreed upon rental rate.
  • Many investors seek rate increments to increase their ROIs, especially if properties in their specific neighborhoods are hiking up rental rates. If the project is HUD-funded or HUD-insured, property owners can request an analysis from the Office of Recapitalization to secure a rent raise.
  • If the contracted rent is less than market rate, investors can choose a Mark-Up-To-Market contract renewal to seek rent adjustments.
  • Investors eager to explore lucrative multi-family projects can renew the contract for portfolio reengineering demonstration projects.
  • For properties that are not applicable for renewal under MAHRA, investors can seek renewal under exception projects.

As you explore what is a section 8 investment and how it can strengthen your real estate portfolio, it’s crucial to become well-versed in the legalities. The legal paperwork and requirements alone can get challenging, and enlisting the support of seasoned experts is of the utmost significance. Our specialized team at GCG Real Estate can empower you with a wealth of resources and unwavering professional support to make well-informed investment decisions.


Section 8 Housing USA: Weighing the Benefits & Costs


It’s hard to gain a concrete understanding of what is a Section 8 investment without weighing the benefits and costs associated with these government-funded programs. It’s common for investors to fixate on the advantages, especially the secure rental payments, and neglect scrutiny on aspects like tenant management, bureaucratic hurdles and red tape.

This section offers detailed insight into the benefits and drawbacks of section 8 housing to support a holistic analysis.

Benefits of Investing in Section 8 Housing


Here are some compelling benefits that encourage property owners to participate in the project 8 housing program:

Benefits of investing in section 8 housing

Secure Rental Income


By far the most attractive advantage with investing in Section 8 housing is that you enjoy a stable and secure rental income. Unlike properties rented directly from the market, collaborating with the HUD offers a much more reliable income stream. Landlords aren’t reliant on their tenants because their rental payments are approved from the government.

However, in certain cases, government-issued vouchers don’t always provide coverage for the entire rental cost, usually covering 70% to 100% of the rent based on income assessments and means testing. This typically happens when the tenant has been approved for a specific amount and must pay the remaining amount from their own pocket. But rest assured, tenants are highly motivated to make timely rental payments because the local housing authorities regulate tenant behavior to prevent lease violations.


An Extensive Pool of Screened Tenants


When clients approach us to explain what is a section investment advantage that’s most attractive, we always point out the extensive pool of pre-screened tenants. Under the project 8 housing program, tenants are pre-screened and must meet a series of stringent requirements to qualify for rental assistance.

Property owners don’t have to worry about running thorough background checks and examining financial records. The local PHA officials conduct due diligence to screen out applicants with a criminal history, previous lease violations and other concerns that can negatively impact the landlord.


Tax Advantages


Gaining access to competitive tax credits is another compelling advantage of investing in the Section 8 housing USA program. Throughout the US, around 90% of all affordable housing projects are funded through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). Under this program, investors can secure around 30% to 70% funding in the form of subsidies.

These tax credits can help investors generate more value for their investments, increasing their ROIs and reducing their spending considerably. The federal and local governments encourage investors to invest in affordable housing developments with lucrative tax incentives.

Drawbacks of investing in section 8 housing

Drawbacks of Investing in Section 8 Housing


Clients often approach us to understand what is a section 8 drawback that overshadows the advantages of investing in this affordable housing scheme? We strongly believe there are none, as long as you’re well-versed in the legalities and have a reliable property manager to handle tenant relations, HUD inspections and paperwork.

However, investors and landlords who compromise due diligence and don’t enlist the support of seasoned professionals often find the drawbacks too overwhelming. Here are some common costs associated with investing in Section 8 housing USA:

Keeping up with Governmental Processes


Dealing with HUD officials and local housing authorities is by far the most challenging aspect of investing in Section 8 Housing USA. Over the years, we’ve realized that these  real estate challenges typically stem with understaffing and complex processes within the HUD system. 

HUD personnel are flooded with requests and responsibilities, resulting in unexpected delays and inefficient request handling. Landlords who fail to enlist the support of specialized professionals are often dissatisfied with HUD service, resulting in a negative tenant relationship. 

At GCG Real Estate, we have an industry-wide network of HUD officials, caseworkers and inspectors, which we leverage to help our clients resolve issues and secure timely payments.

Thorough & Stringent Inspections


HUD officials conduct thorough and stringent inspects before approving property owners to participate in the project 8 housing program. It’s important to learn what is a section 8 inspection because HUD officials have extensive regulations regarding property specifications and eligibility requirements.

Once approved, the government will conduct annual inspections to ensure property owners comply with the regulations. Local housing inspectors and case workers are incredibly diligent, and it’s important to prioritize regular maintenance with seasonal and yearly repairs.

Tenant Troubles


Even though tenants who rent project 8 housing units are thoroughly screened by the government, problematic situations arise from their lack of financial qualifications. In some cases, property owners struggle with tenants who don’t look after the premises, resulting in costly repairs and property deterioration.

While landlords can report this issue to the authorities, they require substantial evidence and extensive paperwork to seek an eviction. However, diligent property management can address this issue by ensuring the property is kept in good condition.


The Importance of  Section 8 Due Diligence 

the importance of section 8 due diligence

Investors often approach with questions like, what is a Section 8 investment strategy that leads to high returns. We always urge them to prioritize due diligence and maintain a thorough approach. A real estate due diligence checklist is of the utmost significance for any real estate investment, but it becomes all the more pressing when investing in affordable housing developments. Qualifying for HUD approval isn’t easy, as properties must meet an extensive list of requirements related to livability and health and safety standards.

Whether you intend to invest in affordable housing or get your rental units approved for the project 8 housing program, our detailed due diligence checklist will serve as your guiding compass. We strongly advise prioritizing tenant screening, legal compliance and property evaluation to overcome hurdles.


Final Thoughts


That concludes our crash course on what is a Section 8 Housing investment and if you want to know more about how this investment model will align with your portfolio and ambitions, get in touch with us today!  

As experts in US Section 8 Housing investments, we are well-versed in the legalities and financial obligations associated with government-funded affordable housing programs, especially in the Detroit area where we specialize. 

Our extensive experience and vast network enables us to streamline property management for our clients, allowing them to sit back and enjoy a stable and steady passive income. With the right support, investors have much to gain from the Section 8 program. 

Get in touch with our team today for a detailed consultation session on how to invest in Section 8 housing.

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Any questions

What is affordable housing?

Affordable housing refers to housing units designed to be accessible to low- and moderate-income families, typically costing no more than 30% of their gross income.

The definition of “affordable” typically varies depending on location and income levels but generally encompasses rent or purchase prices that don’t exceed a certain percentage of a household’s income.

What is Section 8 housing in the US?

Section 8 is a federal rental assistance program in the US run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that helps low-income families and individuals afford decent and safe housing in the private market. 

The program provides eligible households housing choice vouchers that cover a portion of the rent directly to the landlord, with the tenant paying the remaining amount. Property owners who participate in Section 8 agree to rent units to qualified individuals and families at a rate approved by the program.

How can I invest in Section 8 housing?

There are several ways to invest in Section 8 housing:

  1. Direct ownership: You can purchase a property approved for Section 8 and rent it to a qualified tenant using a voucher and receive rent subsidized by the government.
  2. Real estate investment trusts (REITs): REITs pool investor funds to purchase and manage income-producing real estate, including affordable housing.
  3. Limited partnerships: Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) offer another option for investors to pool resources and invest in affordable housing projects.
What is the difference between multi-family and single-family properties?

Single-family property: This refers to a standalone house or unit designed for and rented to one household.

Multi-family property: This refers to a property containing multiple dwelling units, such as a duplex, apartment building, or condominium complex. Multi-family properties offer the potential for higher rental income but typically require different management strategies and considerations compared to single-family homes.

What is the difference between buying and flipping houses?

Buying and holding: This involves purchasing a property to keep it as a long-term investment, generating rental income and potentially appreciating in value over time.

Flipping: This involves buying a property, renovating it to increase its value, and then selling it quickly for a profit. This is a more hands-on strategy with higher risks and rewards compared to buying and holding.

How much do I need to start investing in affordable housing real estate?

The minimum investment required varies depending on the chosen method. Direct ownership typically requires a higher initial investment for the property purchase, and renovation up to Section 8 standards, while other options like REITs might have lower minimum investment amounts.

Do I need to be a US citizen to invest and own the property?

No, US citizenship is not a mandatory requirement for investing in affordable housing in the US. However, specific restrictions or regulations might apply depending on the investment method and your residency status.

It’s crucial to consult with a professional to understand the legal and tax implications for non-citizens.

Do I need to pay US tax as an overseas investor?

This depends on the type of investment, your residency status, and any applicable tax treaties between your home country and the US.

Consulting with a tax professional specializing in international investments is highly recommended.