Project-Based Voucher (PBV) Program
updated April 21, 2017

The Section 8 housing choice voucher (HCV) program helps people with low income afford housing. The program is funded by the federal government and administered by local public housing authorities (PHAs).

The project-based voucher (PBV) program is one part of the HCV program. It helps pay for rent in privately owned rental housing, but only in specific privately owned buildings or units. That means that if you get a project-based voucher, you don’t get to choose the unit you live in.

If you qualify for the PBV program, you will end up spending 30% of your income on your housing and your public housing authority will pay the rest.

Other ways Section 8 can help

In addition to the PBV program, Section 8 may help you with:

Who Can Get It

The project-based voucher program is for people with low income who are willing to live in specific housing units that are offered to them. Local public housing authorities contract with the owners of these units and when one of them is available, the PHA will offer it to someone who is on the PBV waiting list. This is different from the tenant-based program, because if you accept PBV assistance, you do not get to choose the unit you live in nor do you get to keep your PBV benefit if you move.

The exact income limit for PBV assistance depends on the number of people in your household and where you live. The best way to know the income limit in an area is by contacting a local PHA. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also lists income limits. Households with income that is below 50% of median income (what HUD considers “very low income”) or lower may qualify, but most beneficiaries are below 30% of median income.

When you apply for the project-based voucher program, the people reviewing your application will also look at:

  • Your history with federal housing programs
  • Your criminal background
  • Your credit history

Learn more about Section 8 housing choice voucher eligibility on Disability Benefits 101.

Some PBV housing units are reserved for people with disabilities

An important part of the PBV program is that many local housing authorities will set aside some of their project-based units specifically for people who are 65 or older, people with disabilities, veterans, and other people in certain situations or who need services.

If you are in a special situation, talk to local PHAs about this possibility.

Housing Settings Where the Project-Based Voucher Program May Help

The two biggest differences between project-based housing and tenant-based vouchers are:

  1. If you get a project-based unit, you will be offered affordable housing in a specific apartment and won’t get to choose the apartment you rent.
  2. If you move out of your project-based apartment, you may lose your benefit and have to pay full rent.

That means that you don’t really get to choose where you live with project-based housing — you will live in a privately owned apartment that has the number of bedrooms that match what you need.

If you need services like personal care assistance, you may be able to get help paying for those services from programs like Medical Assistance (MA) and MA-Waiver programs. Contact your local county human services agency to learn about your options.

Application

Apply for housing assistance, including the project-based voucher program, at a local PHA. It’s good to apply to more than one PHA, because not all PHAs have project-based housing and most of them have waiting lists. If you’re put on a waiting list, you may not get any benefits for a long time. By applying to more than one PHA, you are more likely to be offered a project-based housing unit sooner. Some PHAs do not have open waiting lists. That means there is no way to apply at that PHA.

Each housing authority has its own application form you will have to fill out. These application forms ask you to state how many people live in your household, how they are related, how much income you have, and if you have a disability.

If you have a problem applying, get help from the housing authority staff — you never have to pay to apply. It is illegal for somebody to sell you an application.

Get Help

To learn more about the project-based voucher program, contact:

To find housing options, you can check:

  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) low-rent apartment search engine, and
  • Minnesota’s HousingLink search engine. When searching with HousingLink, go to the “Subsidized Housing” section and check the "Subsidized Housing (% of income, Project Based Section 8, Public Housing, Section 811/PRAD)" option.