Families have to meet certain income requirements to be eligible for Section 8 housing. PHAs base a family's Section 8 eligibility on total household income, including salaries, tips, overtime and other assets. In general, a family's income should be less than 50 percent of the median income level for the area in which they live [source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development]. Income limits vary from place to place. Boston, for example, has one of the highest median incomes in the nation. To qualify for Section 8, a family of two would have to have a combined income of no more than $36,150 [source: Massachusetts Legal Help].
Income limits matter only at the time a person applies for assistance. If a family's household income rises, they are still eligible to receive rental assistance. However, if their income increases to 80 percent of the local median income, their rental assistance will cease. Once a family is in the Section 8 program, the PHA reviews the family's income eligibility each year. And, HUD mandates that all local PHAs use the government's centralized Enterprise Income Verification System. The system allows any PHA to verify a tenant's employment information, unemployment compensation and social security benefit information. The system also identifies families that have underreported their income [source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development].