Using a Housing Choice Voucher to buy a house
Topics on this page:
- What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
- Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program
- Using a Voucher for Homeownership Expenses
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
The Housing Choice Vouchers Program (HCV), also called Section 8 housing, is a federal program that provides low-income families and individuals with financial help to pay for affordable private housing. Tenants typically receive vouchers to cover the cost of rent or to pay reduced rent. More information is available on using a Voucher to rent.
The HCV Homeownership Program allows families to use their voucher to buy a house.
Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program
The Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program is managed locally by a Public Housing Agencies (PHA). PHAs are local offices that oversee issues of community development. Every HCV Homeownership Program has the following minimum requirements to apply:
- Have a Housing Choice Voucher
- Rental History
- You must have successfully paid rent in the HCV program for a year and be current on payments.
- First-time homebuyer.
- If you have purchased a home before, you are not allowed to use the voucher for another house purchase.
- Current Employment
- You, or a member of your family, must be currently employed, and have over a year of continuous full-time employment. This means you must have worked at least 30 hours a week on average.
- Note the employment requirement is waived if you are elderly or disabled.
- Minimum Income Requirement
- The minimum income requirement is at least $14,500 (the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 multiplied by 2,000 hours per year)
- Local housing authorities can have higher minimum income requirements.
- No lease Violations
- You cannot have violated any of the terms of the lease contract within the last 3 years.
Read the Regulation: Code of Federal Regulations, Title 24, Chapter IX, § 982.627
Each PHA can have additional local requirements to qualify for the Homeownership Program. For example, in Baltimore City, you must also:
- Attend homeownership counseling;
- Receive a homeownership certificate;
- Ratify a sales contract within 120 days and settle within 180 days;
- Obtain a mortgage from a lender;
- Pass both a Housing Quality Standards and Private Home Inspection; and
- Contribute 3% toward the purchase (1% must be from personal funds).
See the Baltimore City Housing Authority's website for more details.
All of the requirements may vary based on where you live. Consult with your local housing authority to apply for the program.
Using a Voucher for Homeownership Expenses
The government issued vouchers may be used to pay most expenses related to home ownership including:
- Mortgage principal and interest
- Real estate taxes and homeowner insurance
- Real estate taxes are taxes for the property, and homeowner’s insurance can protect the property if there is damage to your home or if your home is lost to events such as fire, flooding, and earthquakes.
- PHA allowance for utilities
- PHA covers expenses for heat, electricity, water, and other necessities.
- PHA allowance for routine maintenance costs
- PHA provides money to cover plumbing repair, electrician repairs, and other services to ensure that your home is livable.
- PHA allowance for major repairs and replacements
- PHA provides money to cover ceiling repairs, new necessary appliances, mold removal, asbestos removal and other health-related changes to the residence.
- Principal and interest on debt to finance major repairs and replacements for the home
- These are payments to lower the balance of the bill for such services and to pay interest fees.
- Principal and interest on debt to finance costs to make the home accessible for a family member with disabilities if the PHA determines it is needed as a "reasonable accommodation.”
Read the Regulation: Code of Federal Regulations, Title 24, Chapter IX, § 982.635(c)
Frequently Asked Questions
I am currently in public housing. Can I still participate in the homeownership program?
Yes. Before you apply for the Homeownership Program, however, you must first participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program and meet the qualifications for the Homeownership Program.
How do I apply?
You can contact your local Maryland Public Housing Agency (PHA) to request an application.
Return the completed application to the agency where you received it. Due to the large volume of applicants, you may be placed on a waiting list. It may take a long time to be approved for a voucher. You can either wait until the waiting list clears up, or you may apply in another location where there is no waiting list. However, the PHA for a different location may have different requirements. Some places may require you to live in the area for at least one year. Please discuss your residency preferences with the PHA and ask for more information before applying.
How much money will I get?
The standard voucher payment schedule will be used to determine your subsidy. The amount varies by location.
How long will I receive this benefit?
There is a time limit to how long you can receive this benefit. The time limit depends on your circumstances, but typically the limit is 10-15 years.
Read the Regulation: Code of Federal Regulations, Title 24, Chapter IX, § 982.634