Housing Glossary/Terms


HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM – (formerly the Section 8 Program) Housing Choice Vouchers allow very low-income families to choose, lease or purchase safe, decent, and affordable privately owned rental housing.  If you are accepted in this program, you will receive a voucher that entitles you to rent an apartment unit/house within the jurisdiction of the issuing agency.  The bedroom size would be based on your family size and the rental unit would have to meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS) as well as, fall within an allowable rent range.  After you select a unit and have it approved by the issuing agency, you would sign a one-year lease with the owner, giving you the same rights and responsibilities as any non-assisted renter.  At the end of this one-year lease, you can either renew the lease or move to another unit.  This move would have to be coordinated with the agency issuing the voucher.  Rent is calculated basically like the rent in Low-Rent Public Housing with some minor differences. 

**REMEMBER:  Just because an owner tells you that they accept Section 8 and has a unit available, does not mean that you are accepted into the program.  You must obtain a voucher from a participating agency prior to selecting your unit. 


LOW-RENT PUBLIC HOUSINGPublic Housing was established to provide decent, safe and sanitary rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.  Public Housing comes in all sizes and types, from scattered single-family houses to high-rise apartments for elderly families.  This program is administered by PHAs, which own various apartment complexes and scattered site homes that are exclusively for low-income families.  In this program, your rent is generally thirty (30%) percent of your monthly income after allowances for such things as dependents and medical expenses, or ten (10%) of your gross income.  If you pay your own utilities, an allowance for this will be subtracted from your rent.  To apply for this program you will need to get an application from the PHA that you want assistance from, complete it, and return it to them and be placed on their waiting list. 


PROJECT-BASED SECTION 8 APARTMENT COMPLEXES (Privately Owned Subsidized Housing) – In privately owned subsidized housing, the government provides subsidies directly to the owner, who then applies those subsidies to the rents they charge low-income tenants. There are privately owned subsidized housing units for senior citizens, people with disabilities, as well as families and individuals.  To learn more, please visit: Rental Help: Texas | HUD.gov / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

This program is similar to the Housing Choice Voucher Program except that the assistance is tied directly to a certain number of units at a particular apartment complex.  Each complex maintains its own waiting list and you will need to apply directly to the complex that you wish to live.  This program does not have the flexibility of the Voucher Program because the rental assistance is not transferrable.  If you decide to move from your unit, you lose your assistance and would have to begin the process all over by applying to another complex and being placed on a waiting list.  In this program, your rent is 30% of your monthly income after allowances or 10% of your monthly gross income, whichever is GREATER.  Project-Based Section 8 properties usually have a shorter waiting list than the Housing Choice Voucher Programs administered by the HA.


Senior Housing and Care Glossary of Terms


Some of the information provided was obtained from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.