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Q: Question about "Section 8" and other subsidized housing ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Question about "Section 8" and other subsidized housing
Category: Relationships and Society > Government
Asked by: pcventures-ga
List Price: $6.00
Posted: 10 Sep 2003 16:29 PDT
Expires: 10 Oct 2003 16:29 PDT
Question ID: 254384
I've had some interesting encounters with people living in subsidized
housing. It's made me question the way we help people in this country.
 For instance, there are some low-functioning adults living in my apt
building. The units are co-ops, and clearly someone is paying for them
to live there.  The residents are healthy-looking male adults, and
seem intelligent enough to carry on a decent conversation.  All they
seem to do all day is walk around, go on occasional group activities,
and buy snacks from the minimart across from the street.  I wonder who
is subsidizing them?  Is my monthly maintenance (common charges plus
taxes) higher because these people are in the building?  And why
aren't they required to work or perform in some way in exchange for
housing and pocket money to buy snacks?  My building could be cleaner
- why can't they be put to work helping clean the place?
 Another situation is this - I did some computer work for a woman in a
nearby small city.  She promised to pay me and has only paid half. 
Every time I call her to collect the rest, she says she doesn't have a
job.  But she still has a phone, and is able to buy food, etc.  When I
called the local dept of Housing, I found out that she is living in
"section 8" housing, and can live there indefinitely!  This is a nice
apartment in a private three-family home!
 My questions are these - why aren't people who are clearly given
decent housing and pocket money to spend being required to do some
kind of work, even if it's just pushing a broom on a city street?
 I'd like to know if anyone else thinks that people who are getting
this type of assistance should be required to do something for it.  I
suspect I'm not alone.  In addition, I'd like a suggestion on how I
can inquire specifically about the subsidized people in my apt
building, without sounding like I want them out of there, or that I'm
a heartless jerk.
Subject: Re: Question about "Section 8" and other subsidized housing
Answered By: filian-ga on 19 Sep 2003 11:38 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Greetings, pcventures-ga!

This is a tough question and yes it is somewhat subjective but I will
try and give it an answer.

Working promotes self esteem and good health, though many assistance
programs in the United States don't literally force people to work to
be eligible for benefits. Granted, some programs are limited and there
is a set amount of time a person can stay on them. "Workfare" was a
program that went hand in hand with Welfare to help transition those
who are "low functioning" as you put it into the workforce.

Some people legitimately can not work and their disability may not be
obvious by looking at them. Perhaps they have some kind of mental
incapacity. It can be argued though that those with mental challenges
are still productive members of society through programs designed to
help them -- look at McDonald's and other such restaurants who employ
persons with Down Syndrome and those persons perform well. It leaves
precious little excuse for those who are living in your building, I'd

Each state's Housing Authority has their own ways of dealing with the
program but there are the basic requirements for any Section 8 Voucher
recipient. Here is a partial list of the responsibilities of the

"What are my family obligations under Section 8 programs?
Your family obligations under the Section 8 program are:

to not commit any serious or repeated violation of the lease;
to supply all necessary information to the HA for the administration
of the program and for use in the re-certification process;
to allow the HA to inspect the premises at reasonable times after
reasonable notice;
not to commit a breach of the Housing Quality Standards;
to notify the HA before vacating the unit;
to promptly give the HA a copy of any eviction notice;
to use the unit only as a residence and as the family's principal

Section 8 Certificate & Vouchers: Denial or Termination of Benefits touches upon the discrimination factor:

"Landlords can question how a tenant will pay rent as one factor in
selecting tenants. However, if the Section 8 voucher will enable you
to rent the apartment, the landlord cannot choose to turn you down
just because you have a Section 8.

If a landlord has told you that he or she refuses to rent to you
because the rent is more than 30 percent of your income, he or she may
be discriminating against you. Discrimination comes in many forms.
Some discrimination is overt and obvious such as comments or
intentional conduct. Other discrimination can be subtle. Some
discrimination may not even be the intent of the landlord, but still
has a harmful effect."

There is a contract between the recipient of Section 8 Vouchers and
the Housing Authority. The HA provides a portion of the rent payment
to the landlord and the voucher recipient agrees to fulfill the
requirements. Also, the landlord has a contract with the HA to accept
the voucher and abide by the rules of the program.

You might be interested in knowing that recipients may use Section 8
vouchers in the purchase of a home, at least in Glendale, CA:

"The Department is pleased to announce that rental Housing Vouchers
can now be used for the purchase of a home. Instead of the HA payment
being made in the form of rental assistance, the same payment amount
will be made to the mortgage lender or bank financing the family's
home purchase. The family pays the difference between the voucher
mortgage assistance payment and the full amount of the monthly home

The Home Ownership plan is available for families enrolled in the
Section 8 Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS). Under this new program an FSS
family can draw down on its FSS escrow account, and combine with
first-time buyer funds made available from the Department to qualify."

City of Glendale - Community Development & Housing

I found a Website that explains how Section 8 works. It's not like
Welfare, in which the recipient receives money from the government and
does not have to pay anything at all. Section 8 requires the recipient
to pay a percentage of their income.

"What is Section 8? 

Section 8 was established in 1974 by the Housing and Community
Development Act - part of the “war on poverty”. It was based on
20-year contracts between housing & apartment owners and the federal
government - with many of these ending by 2006. Section 8 allows
low-income families, who meet certain criteria, to receive housing
payment assistance. Eligible families pay a maximum 30% of their
income towards rent, and HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban
Development provides the rest up to a certain maximum rent.

Section 8 is not an entitlement program. It is not available to all
the families who need & are eligible for it. It is funded by the
budget process & if need is greater than funding, low-income folks do
not get Section 8, but go on very long Section 8 waiting lists. In
1983, the Section 8 voucher was introduced. The government said it
would let renters “have greater freedom of choice to select housing
where they want to live within a standard rent range”. Vouchers do not
guarantee there will be landlords who will accept the voucher as
payment for rent - so having a Section 8 voucher does not mean you
have Section 8 housing!"

Section 8 & Public Housing in the Age of Globalization 
provided by Project South

New York has a PDF document that explains how Section 8 works there.

New York City Housing Authority
Guide To Ssection 8 Housing Assistance Program

There is, thankfully, a program called WorkFirst. Here is a
description of it plus who must participate in the program:

"What is WorkFirst?
In August 2002, changes were made in the WorkFirst program. The intent
of DSHS is to ensure that mandatory WorkFirst clients participate
full-time or face sure sanction. Almost all families who get TANF
(Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) must participate in
Workfirst. Most parents must do a job search program and take a job if
one is offered.

Who must participate in WorkFirst?
Adults and teens over 16 must participate in WorkFirst. Parents or
caretakers who are "personally needed in the home" to care for infants
under the age of 3 months are exempt and are not required to
participate effective July 1, 1999. Parents may be exempt for a total
of 3 months for each infant. There is no limit to the number of times
the 3 month exemption can be used, however, remember that your 60
month lifetime limit for cash benefits continues to run even while you
are using the exemption. Beginning June 13, 2002 a parent with a child
between 4 and 12 months old will only be required to participate for
20 hours per week."

"What is an Individual Responsibility Plan?
An Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) sets out the things the
recipient needs to do to get a job in the shortest time possible. An
Individual Responsibility Plan includes support services which are
services needed to address personal or family problems which interfere
with a recipient's ability to find employment. The plan also includes
"WorkFirst components" which are activities and experiences that will
allow the person to become employed. There should be start and end
dates for each activity listed. The IRP should be completed together
by the recipient and the case manager. It should be changed as
necessary as the recipient moves through the program or circumstances
change. See our publication titled Workfirst Individual Responsibility
Plans for more information."

Government Benefits
Questions and Answers About Workfirst

So it does seem that public assistance recipients are required to
work, or at the very least be actively searching for a job. There is
also vocational training available to adults who may have a low skill
set. The work requirement has of course been attacked by many as
"discriminatory" or "anti welfare".

I found an article criticizing public assistance programs that you may
find of use:

"In addition to finding out that materialistic assistance programs
don't work, we are also learning something about what does. A
multitude of private programs to help the needy have been developed in
recent years. These range from the many organizations affiliated with
John Perkins's Christian Community Development Association to
independent substance abuse programs like STEP-13 in Denver, Victory
Fellowship in San Antonio, and private shelters like the House of Hope
in Chicago. The leaders in these programs have found that uplifting
the needy is essentially a psychological process, not a material one.
It requires an intricate blend of love, discipline, guidance, praise,
and inspiration. In other words, the needy can't really be helped by
mere material assistance-which is what government is good at-and what
they do need is genuine personal involvement-which government is bad
at providing."

What Works against the Welfare State?
by James L. Payne

You may also be interested in a book I found available at
(there are 27 sample pages available for viewing).

Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of
Antipoverty Policy
by Martin Gilens

Another article I found looks at the arguments for and against
Welfare, coming from an ethical point of view. Here's an excerpt:

"The Argument Against Social Welfare
The cornerstone of the argument against social welfare is best
summarized by Charles Murray in Losing Ground:

[The welfare] program, however unintentionally, must be constructed in
such a way that it increases the net value of being in the condition
that it seeks to change--either by increasing the rewards or by
reducing the penalties.

In this way, the U.S. welfare system actually makes poverty more
attractive--perhaps even to those who would otherwise have been
motivated to work and support themselves.

As Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich writes in his essay "Renewing
America," "The welfare system has sapped the spirit of the poor and
made it harder to climb the first rungs of the economic ladder."

Such a system not only leads welfare recipients to become satisfied
with lives of "subsidized idleness," but it also places an unfair
burden on the workers who must pay for the program, Gingrich
continues. Why should working taxpayers be forced to take fiscal
responsibility for those who do not take responsibility for

The Welfare of the Community 
By Joseph Westfall

A general rule is that the Republican Party is "pro-personal
responsibility" while the Democratic Party believes in funding
government programs for those "in need". You might look into the
platform of the Republican Party if you haven't already. Your point of
view seems to sway in that direction though you may also want to look
into the Libertarian Party as well. These political parties may be
able to put you in touch with those who share your views.

Republican National Committee

Libertarian Party: Home Page

Democratic National Committee

I hope this information proves helpful to you, pcventures-ga. It was
very interesting to research!


Federal housing
against Section 8 housing
requirements for Section 8 voucher
"anti Welfare"
against welfare
anti section 8 housing
Republican Party
Democrat Party
Libertarian Party
pcventures-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Thank You! Helped a lot!

Subject: Re: Question about "Section 8" and other subsidized housing
From: omniscientbeing-ga on 10 Sep 2003 16:57 PDT
I think you need to look into the "Section 8" laws specifically and
what exactly they entail in your state. you are essentially asking
"What do the Section 8 laws do for those who qualify?"

GA Researcher
Subject: Re: Question about "Section 8" and other subsidized housing
From: pcventures-ga on 10 Sep 2003 18:44 PDT
This needs clarification.

 It looks like most government programs are pure handouts with NO
expectation of doing anything productive.
 OK, so someone is a low-functioning adult who perhaps can't handle or
hold down a conventional job.  Then make them do SOMETHING productive.
 I mean really, they're getting a place to live and other handouts,
and nothing is expected of them?
 I want to know why there isn't more popular anger about this, and if
there are organizations that think like I do - not wanting to abolish
assistance, but to make these people do something for it.

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