What Is the Difference Between Section 8 & Public Housing?

government programs, low-income families, housing
••• public building image by Natalia Solovyeva from Fotolia.com

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has many programs that assist low-income families with housing costs. Section 8 deals with private housing, while public housing consists of entire developments of government-sponsored dwellings.

Section 8 Process

Section 8, or the Housing Choice Voucher Program, gives vouchers to eligible applicants, who then use them to help pay rent in private housing. The tenants put 30 percent of their monthly income towards rent and the voucher covers the rest, according to HUD, which administers the Section 8 program.

Read More: Section 8 Housing Authority Investigator Procedures

Public Housing Process

Public housing developments are those that are constructed and operated by government subsidies. Tenants pay rent based upon an income percentage formula developed by HUD.

Section 8 Eligibility

Those who meet the low income requirements developed by HUD, which vary by region and are calculated yearly, may be eligible for Section 8 housing.

Public Housing Eligibility

Those who are deemed low income, elderly, or disabled may qualify for public housing. As defined by HUD, low-income families are characterized by incomes that are 50 percent to 80 percent of the area's median income.


According to HUD, Section 8 helps about 1.4 million families while 1.2 million families live in public housing.

Related Articles