Section 8 Housing: Section 8 Vouchers vs. Project-Based Section 8 Housing

Section 8 Housing: Section 8 Vouchers vs. Project-Based Section 8 Housing

By: Cindy Peterle-Harris, Director of Compliance at Arbors Management


Section 8 Housing: Section 8 Vouchers vs. Project-Based Section 8 Housing

It’s likely that you’ve heard of Section 8 housing, or its two subcategories, but do you know exactly what it is? 

According to this article on, the Section 8 Housing program is “the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.”

Oftentimes, there can be confusion regarding the Section 8 program, who qualifies for Section 8 housing, what it means for owners and their rental properties, and more.

Today, we’re going to try to clear up some of that confusion for owners and tenants by discussing Section 8 and breaking down the two housing programs – Section 8 Vouchers and Project-Based Section 8 Housing – that fall under that title.


Program #1: Section 8 Voucher Program

The first type of Section 8 housing is the Section 8 Voucher Program. 

A Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher is a type of housing assistance that will pay a portion of the rent that is charged on a unit. 

The Voucher is awarded by the local Housing Authority to a qualified applicant and can be used at any rental property that accepts Section 8 Vouchers.


Who Qualifies for the Section 8 Voucher Program? 

There are income and household composition requirements that must be met to qualify, but the applicant should contact the local housing authority for more information on those requirements.


Accepting Vouchers as a Property Owner

If you’re a single-family rental property owner, you can agree to accept these Section 8 Housing Vouchers if you so choose. If you do, you will receive all or some of the rental payment directly from the housing department every month. 

Many rental property owners in Pittsburgh find this to be a good strategy because it’s guaranteed rent. You won’t have to chase down residents for late rent or missing payments because you know exactly where the money is coming from – a government agency.

However, even though your rent payment is guaranteed, there are still some hoops to jump through when you accept Section 8 Vouchers at your rental property. 

Your property will have to undergo several different types of inspections. If there are any habitability issues, you’ll need to fix them right away – otherwise the Voucher program will not approve you for participation. 

Additionally, there can be delays with rent payments, especially if there’s a government shutdown.

There can also be a difference in market rental values. With a market-rate property, you can set the rent at whatever you want; as long as the market will bear what you’re asking, you’ll get the rental price you ask for. But with a Section 8 Voucher, you are limited to what the Section 8 program determines is the acceptable rent rate for your property.


Does Arbors Management Accept Section 8 Vouchers?

Arbors Management will accept Housing Choice vouchers for the properties that have Low Income Tax Credits attached to them: The Meadows Apartments and 38 West Prospect Road in Washington, PA. 

We do not accept Vouchers for our Project-Based Section 8 or PRAC (Project Rental Assistance Contracts) properties because there is already a deep subsidy attached to the unit itself. If an applicant has a Housing Choice Voucher and moves to a Project-Based Section 8 or PRAC unit, the applicant will lose the Voucher. 

When looking for housing with a Section 8 Voucher, please be sure to check with your leasing agent to see if the owner will accept a Housing Choice Voucher.   


Program #2: Project-Based Section 8 Housing

Project-Based Section 8 properties have an agreement with HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) that HUD will pay a portion of the contract rent (the rent rate that HUD has established for the property) for qualified residents. 

The resident will pay 30% of his or her adjusted gross monthly income and HUD will pay the difference between the rent paid by the resident and the contract rent on the unit.

Project-Based Section 8 Housing is a little bit different than the Voucher Program. In this case, the subsidy is attached to the property, not the person. So, funding is given out based on the property, not an individual person and their income.


Who Qualifies for Project-Based Section 8 Housing?

It all depends on the property! 

Eligibility factors always include an income limit based on a percentage of the median household income. This income limit is set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It’s updated annually and the income limit increases for every household member living in the unit.  

Other eligibility criteria include age or disability if the property is considered an elderly property, as well as number of persons that will be living in the household. 

Finally, for a household to qualify for a unit in this program, the household must require at least one dollar of subsidy even if it is below the income limit for the property/household size. 

The best way to discover the eligible criteria for a property is to contact the Property Manager and ask what the eligibility criteria are for it.


What Are the Differences Between the Two Programs?

While both programs provide “deep subsidy” assistance, the major difference between the two is that in the Housing Choice Voucher program, the subsidy is attached to the tenant not the unit, while in Project-Based Section 8 programs, the subsidy is attached to the unit, not the tenant. 

In other words, a tenant who has a housing choice voucher may move to another location and still receive Section 8 assistance, but with a Project-Based Section 8 property, if the tenant moves he or she may not transfer the subsidy to another property.


What Are the Similarities Between the Two Programs?

For both Housing Choice Vouchers and Project-Based Section 8 units, the tenant is required to provide income, asset and expense information on an annual basis. Rent will be adjusted yearly based on the information that is provided.

It is also important to note that despite differences in requirements for each program, the purpose of the two programs remains the same: to assist low-income families, persons with disabilities, and elderly by providing comfortable, safe housing.


In Conclusion…

There are two types of Section 8 Housing: Section 8 Voucher Program and Project-Based Section 8 Housing.

While both programs are meant to help low-income families, persons with disabilities, and the elderly, they do so in different ways. Section 8 Vouchers are attached to the tenant, while the subsidy for Project-Based Section 8 Housing is tied to the unit. 

Section 8 can be a confusing topic, especially if you’re not dealing with the program on a daily basis. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We’d be happy to help you manage your Section 8 property or help you find an affordable place to call home.

Phone: 1(800)-963-1280