Rental subsidies help low-income families and individuals, the elderly, and the disabled afford housing in the private market...


The goal of rental subsidies (or vouchers) is to close the gap between the amount of rent a landlord charges and what a family can afford. Subsidies provide assistance to families and individuals, rather than trying to increase or maintain the number of affordable places for rent.

Under this program, the holder of a rental subsidy or voucher finds housing themself. If the landlord accepts vouchers, the government pays the difference between the actual rent the landlord charges and what the person can afford to pay.

The most important rental subsidy program is the Tenant-Based Housing Choice Voucher program – also known as Section 8 – which the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds. The San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) manages the program in San Francisco. Other subsidy programs in San Francisco include Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (funded by HUD), and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, also funded by HUD.

Project-Based Operating Subsidies

Project-based operating subsidies are a related form of assistance for low-income households. These work just like rental subsidies, except that they apply to particular housing units. A building owner provides affordable housing in exchange for payments from the agency to cover operating expenses. Individual households that rent units in the building pay a fixed percentage of their incomes (usually 30%) for rent.

Examples of operating subsidy programs include Project-Based Section 8 Rental Assistance Shelter + Care, both funded by HUD, as well as Project-Based Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (a SFHA program), provisions of the Mental Health Services Act (funded by the California Department of Housing and Community Development), and the Local Operating Subsidy Program (funded by the City of San Francisco).


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US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) | HUD provides funding and oversight for most rental subsidy programs in San Francisco. San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) | SFHA administers the voucher program in San Francisco by managing the waitlist, ensuring eligibility, and payments to building owners.