According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the maximum housing benefit provided under the federal housing choice voucher program generally is the lesser of the payment standard minus 30 percent of the family's monthly adjusted income or the gross rent for the unit minus 30 percent of monthly adjusted income. The payment standard is based on average rents in the area where the family lives.
Individuals and families must meet income eligibility requirements to apply for housing benefits under the federal voucher program, according to HUD. Generally, the family's income may not exceed 50 percent of the median income for the county where the family lives. Additionally, federal law mandates that 75 percent of available vouchers in each location go to families or individuals whose income does not exceed 30 percent of the area median income. Information on median incomes in specific areas is available from the local public housing agency. PHA names are available from HUD.
HUD advises that the demand for low-cost housing in many areas of the United States exceeds the supply; therefore, waiting lists often are very long. In some locations, waiting lists are closed. Local agencies may give preference to certain applicants. These include individuals or families who are homeless or living in substandard housing; those who are paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent; and those who are involuntarily displaced. These applicants may be given housing vouchers before other families on the waiting list.