Assistance & Vouchers

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The cost of maintaining adequate housing is a worry for many Floridians, especially for Floridians who have disabilities.

These housing programs may be available to help pay for or subsidize your housing costs.

See also our Section 504 tab under Other Legal Protections to learn about how the law prohibits discrimination based solely on disability in Public Housing and Choice Voucher programs.

Public Housing

Public housing was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities at rents they can afford.

Public housing comes in all sizes and types, from scattered single family houses to highrise apartments for the elderly.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers Federal aid to local public housing agencies. HUD furnishes technical and professional assistance in planning, developing and managing these developments.

Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) provide the day to day management of public housing for low-income residents.

Who is eligible?

Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. A PHA determines eligibility based on:

  1. annual gross income,
  2. whether the individual qualifies as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family and,
  3. U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status.

PHAs use the income limits developed by HUD and they are based on the incomes for the county or area. HUD sets the lower income limits at 80% and very low income limits at 50% but the actual income limits vary from area to area, so eligibility may vary between PHAs.

The PHA also checks references about whether the applicant has been a responsible tenant in the past. The PHA will deny admission to an applicant whose habits and practices are irresponsible and may therefore be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project's environment.

The PHA serving your community can provide you with the income levels for your area and family size, or you can also find the income limits here on the internet.

How do I apply?

If you are interested in applying for public housing, contact your local PHA. If you have trouble contacting the PHA, contact the local HUD Field Office.

For more information on public housing, please visit the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

Choice Vouchers (formerly Section 8)

The Choice Voucher (formerly known as Section 8 vouchers) program is the major federal program that assists very low-income families, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.

Participants find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.

Participants are free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program.

Participants are not limited to units located in subsidized public housing projects.

Choice Vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs).

Participants are responsible for finding suitable housing and an landlord/owner who agrees to rent under the program. Participants do not have to move if their current landlord/owner agrees to rent under the program. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the PHA.

A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the PHA on behalf of the participant. The participant then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.

Under certain circumstances, if authorized by the PHA, a participant may use the Choice Voucher to purchase a modest home.

Am I eligible for a Choice Voucher?

Eligibility for a voucher is determined by the PHA based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status.

In general, the family's income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. By law, a PHA must provide 75 percent of its voucher to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30 percent of the area median income. Median income levels are published by HUD and vary by location.

During the application process, the PHA will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. The PHA will verify this information with other local agencies, employers and banks, and will use the information to determine program eligibility and the amount of the housing assistance payment.

If the PHA finds an applicant eligible, the PHA will either assist immediately or put the participant on a waiting list.

Contact the local Public Housing Authority to apply or contact the nearest HUD Office.

Vouchers for People with Disabilities

There are three types of vouchers especially designed and offered to people with disabilities:

Mainstream Vouchers

For more information, visit the Department of Housing and Urban Development Mainstream Voucher website.

Designated Housing Vouchers

For more information, visit the Department of Housing and Urban Development Designated Housing Vouchers website.

Certain Development Vouchers

For more information, visit the Department of Housing and Urban Development Certain Development Vouchers website.

To find out if you are eligible and to apply for these vouchers, contact your local Public Housing Authority.

Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)

The HOPWA Program addresses the specific needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

HOPWA makes grants to local communities, states, and nonprofit organizations for projects that benefit low income persons medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and their families.

HUD's Office of HIV/AIDS Housing manages the HOPWA program in collaboration with the participating states and the Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) to provide guidance and program oversight.

Florida participates in HOPWA.

For more information, contact the closest CPD Office.

Charles Bennett Federal Building
400 West Bay Street, Suite 1015
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Phone: (904) 232-1777
Fax: (904) 232-3617

Office of Community Planning and Development
909 SE First Avenue
Room 500
Miami, FL 33131
Phone: (305) 536-5678
Fax: (305) 536-5765

For more information on the HOPWA Program, please visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP)

The State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program is a Florida program to increase affordable housing construction and homeownership. 

It offers various programs such as the Down Payment Assistance Program that provides qualified applicants with zero interest loans to help cover down payment and closing costs.

These loans are generally available for up to 20% of the home purchase price.

For more information and to locate your local SHIP office, visit the Florida Housing Finance Corporation website.