Work Incentives

Affordable Housing Work Incentives

Earning More in Section 8, Public Housing, and Many Other Programs

With Section 8, public housing, and many different project-based housing programs, you usually pay about 30% of your income as rent. Earned income is treated the same as unearned income, so if your earnings go up by $500 per month, your rent would go up by about 30% of that ($150 per month).

Note that if your income changes, the timing of when your rent changes depends on different things like:

  • When your last annual reexamination was done
  • If your income went up or down
  • How much your income changed, and
  • What type of income changed.

The bottom line: You’re better off if you earn more because your rent won’t go up as much as your earnings.


Last year you moved into a project-based apartment that costs $800 per month. You used to make $1,000 a month and only paid $300 each month for your apartment. Section 8 paid the other $500 each month in rent.

Two months ago, you got a better job where you make $1,500 each month. Because you make more, the amount you pay for rent will go up to $450 and the amount Section 8 pays will go down to $350.

Even though the amount you pay towards your rent is higher, you still have more money left over after paying your rent. When you made $1,000 a month from your job and paid $300 a month rent, you had $700 a month left over (minus taxes). Now that you make $1,500 a month from your job and pay $450 a month rent, you have $1,050 a month left over (minus taxes).

No one new can get an Earned Income Disregard (EID) starting 1/1/2024

The Earned Income Disregard (EID) was a rule that helped some people with disabilities living in public housing, or who had a Section 8, HOPWA, or other qualifying voucher. With an EID, a person who got qualifying housing benefits whose earned income increased (because they got a job or started getting paid more at work), wouldn't have all of their earnings counted when their rent was calculated. An EID would help a person for up to 24 months (two years).

People who started getting help from an EID before 1/1/2024 and haven't yet used up their 24 months will continue to get help from it until they finish their 24 months. No new people can get an EID, but they may qualify for the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program instead.

Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program helps families who get help with their rent from programs funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

It helps families whose income goes up because of work. When the family income goes up and the program starts paying less for rent, the FSS program takes the money that it saves on rent and sets that money aside for the family. The family can use these savings for purchases, such as the down payment on a home or a car.

The FSS program can help people who get help from programs like:

Check with your public housing authority (PHA) or with the administrator of your housing program to see if the FSS can help you. Learn more about the FSS program.

Clyde and Bertha live with their two children and have $2,000 in monthly income. Due to their low income, they qualify for the Section 8 housing choice voucher program. With the voucher, they pay about $600/month in rent (30% of $2,000), even though their apartment costs $1,800/month. Section 8 pays the remaining $1,200/month.

Bertha starts doing some childcare work and the family income goes up to $3,000 each month. Because her earnings went up, after their annual reexamination they have to pay about $900/month as rent (30% of $3,000), while Section 8 pays the remaining $900/month for the family's apartment. This means that Section 8 is paying $300 less per month than it used to pay and Clyde and Bertha are paying $300 more.

Because the family is part of the FSS program, the PHA that administers Clyde and Bertha's Section 8 benefits takes that $300 extra that they are paying each month and sets it aside for the family. A year later, there is $3,600, which Bertha can use to make the down payment on a car.

Learn more