History of Section 8 Housing: Know Each and Everything

For low-income individuals and families, finding quality, affordable housing can be a significant challenge. Fortunately, since the mid-1960s, the Section 8 Housing program has provided an important source of assistance for those in need. Also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, Section 8 Housing has a rich history of evolution and adaptation to changing economic and social conditions. In this article, we’ll explore the origins of Section 8 Housing, its early years, its evolution over time, and the challenges it faces today. Over the years, the Section 8 program has provided vital stability and security to countless low-income households, enabling them to access quality housing and improved economic opportunities.

History of Section 8 Housing

Origins of Section 8 Housing

The roots of Section 8 Housing can be traced all the way back to the Housing Act of 1937, which was the first federal legislation to provide public housing in the United States. But it wasn’t until 1965 that the section 8 program was introduced as an amendment to the Housing Act. Its purpose was to provide an incentive for private landlords to rent to low-income tenants by offering rental subsidies in an effort to make affordable housing more accessible. This amendment allowed for the construction of new public housing units and for private landlords to receive rental subsidies for the tenants they rented to. By introducing the section 8 program, the US government aimed to bridge the gap between need and affordability, making it easier for low-income individuals and families to find safe and affordable housing.

What Is Section 8 Us Housing Act of 1937?

The Section 8 program, established in the US Housing Act of 1937, provides rental assistance to low-income families and individuals. Through the program, eligible participants are empowered to find their own housing and receive financial help to cover a portion of their monthly rent. The goal of section 8 is to provide safe, decent, and affordable housing for those who need it most.

Early Years of Section 8 Housing

The early years of Section 8 Housing were full of promise, as the program offered a much-needed solution to the problem of affordable housing. Despite a high demand for housing and a limited supply of private-sector landlords willing to participate in the program, eligibility requirements were fairly strict with most vouchers going to families with young children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, funding for the program was also limited, meaning that not everyone in need of housing could be served. Nonetheless, the Section 8 program was an important first step towards providing more affordable housing options.

Evolution of Section 8 Housing

The evolution of the Section 8 housing program has been substantial over the years, with changes made to accommodate the evolving economic and social conditions.

  1. The program offered tenant-based vouchers, where families were given a fixed voucher that could only be used for rental housing in a specific area. However, this approach was later replaced with project-based vouchers, which allowed housing authorities to target certain buildings or developments for low-income families.
  2. The Housing Choice Voucher program was also introduced, giving families more freedom to choose where they wanted to live. This was followed by the Moving to Work demonstration program in 1996, providing housing authorities with the opportunity to experiment with new ways of delivering affordable housing assistance.

Through these changes and others, the Section 8 program has continually adapted to the changing economic and social conditions of the U.S., furthering its mission to provide quality and affordable housing to low-income families.

Challenges Facing Section 8 Housing Today

The Section 8 program has been a successful source of affordable housing for low-income families but continues to face numerous challenges.

  1. Funding for the program has been deficient in recent years, causing difficulty in serving all those in need.
  2. There is a shortage of affordable housing units, creating long waiting lists and difficulty in finding suitable housing. Additionally, many private sector landlords are reluctant to accept Section 8 vouchers, leading to discrimination against voucher holders.
  3. To combat these issues, measures have been taken to increase funding for the program, expand landlord outreach and education, and increase the availability of affordable housing. 

Although some progress has been made, much more needs to be done to ensure that all low-income families have access to safe and affordable housing.

Fair Market Rents

Fair Market Rents (FMRs) are used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to set maximum rental rates for units eligible for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. The rates are determined based on the average rent for standard-quality rental units in a given area and are adjusted annually to account for changes in the local housing market. FMRs are set at the 30 to 40th percentile of the gross rent in the area, meaning that half of the units in the area are rented for less than the FMR and half for more. By using FMRs, HUD ensures that people accessing the Section 8 program have access to affordable housing in their area.

Small Area Fair Market Rents:

Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs) are a powerful tool to help ensure that low-income families can access affordable housing in higher-cost neighborhoods. By utilizing rents based on specific ZIP codes or areas within metropolitan areas, rather than a broader regional average, SAFMRs provide more accurate rental rates for tenants. This can help make sure that families are not priced out of desirable neighborhoods and can access the same housing opportunities as their more affluent neighbors.

Earned Income Disallowance

The Earned Income Disallowance (EID) is an invaluable policy that helps Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program participants keep more of their income without their rental assistance being reduced. This policy allows eligible families to exclude the first $200 of their monthly earned income, plus an additional 50% of any remaining earned income, from their annual income calculation.

The EID provides a powerful incentive for families to increase their earnings and gain financial independence, while still receiving the rental assistance they need to afford their housing. The policy has successfully helped many families transition off of public assistance and into self-sufficiency.

By enabling families to earn more money without reducing their rental assistance, the EID policy is an invaluable tool for helping families achieve greater financial stability and independence.


The Section 8 Housing program has a long and rich history of providing safe, secure, and affordable housing for low-income individuals and families. Despite its challenges, the program has seen tremendous progress over the years and is continuing to evolve as economic and social conditions change. Through continued investment and collaboration, we can ensure that all low-income households have access to safe and affordable housing. By supporting the Section 8 program and working towards solutions to its challenges, we can help to make sure that all Americans have a place to call home.


What is the history of Section 8 housing in the United States?

The Section 8 program was created as part of the United States Housing Act of 1937 to provide affordable housing for low-income families and individuals. The program has undergone several changes over the years, including changes to eligibility requirements, funding levels, and program administration. In 1998, the program was restructured and renamed the Housing Choice Voucher program.

When was the Section 8 program created, and why?

The Section 8 program was created in 1974 as an amendment to the United States Housing Act of 1937. Its goal was to provide rental assistance to low-income families and individuals and to increase the supply of affordable housing in the United States.

How has the Section 8 program changed over the years?

The Section 8 program has undergone several changes over the years, including improved eligibility requirements, increased funding levels, and more efficient program administration. In 1998, the program was restructured and renamed the Housing Choice Voucher program, allowing eligible households to choose a rental unit of their preference.

What impact has Section 8 had on affordable housing in the United States?

Section 8 has had a significant impact on affordable housing in the United States. Since its introduction in 1974, Section 8 has provided rental assistance to over 5.5 million households.

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