Find out Section 8 Housing Rules regarding the number of bedrooms you can get. The most important factor that will determine your unit size is the number of people in your household.
Unit size is an issue every person applying for Section 8 housing wants to know about. We got more than 600 comments on one of our more popular articles “section 8 guidelines for unit size“, primarily asking about how many bedrooms they would qualify for.
Below I will discuss the GENERAL Section 8 Housing Rules, specifically with regard to the number of bedrooms. Remember, each state and county will have different qualifications so be sure to check with your local HA for specific eligibility questions.
Latest Section 8 Housing Rules For Unit Size
Housing authorities are now trying to strictly enforce the “two heartbeats per room” rule. This means you have to have at least 2 people in every bedroom regardless of age or gender. This is a general rule set forth by the US Department of Housing an Urban Development.
However, this rule is not always straightforward. Also, individual housing authorities use many other factors to make a final determination, regarding the number of people that can legally occupy a unit.
Finally, other factors that are used to determine unit size include size of the bedrooms, configuration of the unit, age and number of children, presence of people with disabilities, any requirements of special aids and assistance, etc.
General Section 8 Housing Rules For Unit Size
Here is a reference table used by Housing Authorities across the US to determine how many people can live in a unit. Also, the table has both minimum and maximum guidelines for occupancy, which are set forth to avoid cases of fraud.
Typical PHA Standards Used to Issue Housing Choice Voucher
|Housing Choice Voucher Size||Minimum # of People in Household||Maximum # of People in Household|
Standards Used to Determine Acceptability of Unit Size (HQS Rules)
|Unit Size||Maximum Occupancy **|
** Maximum Occupancy Assuming a Living Room Is Used as a Living/Sleeping Area
How the Unit Size Determination is Made
When you apply for a Section 8 Housing Voucher, the Housing Authority will use the following factors to determine the number of bedrooms you will be eligible for.
• The subsidy standards must provide for the smallest number of bedrooms necessary to house a
family without overcrowding.
• A child who is temporarily away because he/she is in foster care is considered a member of the family in determining the unit size.
• A family that consists of a pregnant woman only, and (no other persons), is considered a
• Any live-in aide (approved by the PHA to reside in the unit to care for a family member who
is disabled or is at least 50 years of age) will be counted in determining the unit size.
• A maximum of one bedroom per family will be allocated for live-in aides, even if the family has more than one aide.
• Two elderly or disabled household members may be given separate bedrooms.
• Unless a live-in-aide resides with the family, the family unit size for any family consisting of
a single person must be either a zero or one-bedroom unit.
• Persons of different generations, and unrelated adults (except for domestic partners) may have a
separate bedroom, within the limitations of the minimum occupancy standards outlined below.
• Students who attend a school more than 50 miles away from the subsidized unit are not
considered a member of the household. Additionally, full-time students who attend a school within 50 miles of the subsidized unit but live away from the unit more than half the year are not included in
Other Considerations May Be Used To Determine Unit Size
Also, a particular Housing Authority may also use the following consideration to determine what size unit you would be eligible for.
1. Size of bedrooms
If it will be determined that the size of a bedroom in a unit you are looking at is too small, only 1 person may be allowed to live there. For example, if you have two adults and two children, and the second bedroom is deemed too small, you may not be able to get that unit.
2. Age of children
Some Housing Authorities have additional section 8 housing rules regarding children. Thus, they take the age of children into consideration when determining the number of bedrooms. For example, if you have two adults and an infant child, they may get only 1 bedroom. However, if the child is older, (particularly a teenager) they may get a separate bedroom.
3. Physical limitations of housing
Such factors as the size of the septic tank, sewer and other building systems may be used to determine the maximum number of people allowed in one unit.
Changes In Family Size or Health Status
If your family size or situation changes, you may be eligible to reapply and get a larger unit. These situations may include having another child, or a health condition or disability that requires the presence of an aid 24/7.
Finally, when you reapply, make sure that you have all documents that verify your current situation. In case you will be requesting a room for an aid, you will need to present all supporting medical documents. Failure to supply all required documentation could result in your application being denied.