How to Go Up to 40% of Income (Section 8 Housing Vouchers)

Art: Robin Mead

If you have a housing voucher, your Housing Authority has probably shown you a payment standard and told you that you must stay within that amount.

If you wish to rent a more expensive place, there are a few ways you may be allowed to do this: Legal Ways to Use Your Housing Voucher When the Rent is Too High

One way is to pay a little extra out of your own pocket to make up the difference. This is called “going up to 40% of your income.” Here’s how it works.


Never make an arrangement directly with your landlord to pay extra. This is called “side deals” and it is illegal. Make sure the arrangement goes through your Housing Authority.


Short answer – Look at how much income you have. Figure out what is 10% of your household income. That is how much extra you can pay.

Long answer – The amount of rent you pay is usually set at 30% of your countable income. If you make a request, you can go up to 40% and the extra 10% will go towards renting a more expensive place. You are allowed to pay an amount equal to 10% of your income.

Example: So if the countable income for your household is $2,000 – you can pay an additional $200. Now your voucher raises by $200 and you can rent a more expensive place.


Somethings are excluded from countable income.

This is good (makes the amount of rent you pay be less).

But it also causes a problem (amount of extra you can pay is also less).

Examples of exclusions:

  • Small deduction for EACH child ($480 annually= $40 off monthly)
  • Small deduction for elderly/disabled households ($400 annually= about $33 off monthly income)
  • Medical expenses (if you declared any)
  • All income to a live-in aide
  • Many forms of school financial aide
  • More deductions: How to Calculate (and sometimes lower) Rent in HUD Housing


If your income goes down, the amount extra you can pay goes down. If you are already moved into a place, they will let you stay and keep paying the extra. But if you move out and look for a new place, they will change the figures to match your current income.


If you are in a Moving to Work Housing Authority, they may let you go over 40%. You may be able to go to 50%.


🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Affordable Housing Survival Guide

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🌷 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

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17 thoughts on “How to Go Up to 40% of Income (Section 8 Housing Vouchers)”

  1. Hi can anybody please respond to this? Inspire of what you are saying I was told no by the housing authority and my section 8 case worker… But the housing authority website seemed to be saying what you are saying here as have other car workers at other organizations. I am so confused and in a hard spot! My I have 2 people working on my case and both say absolutely not that’s illegal and then I have you and a few other people and even the housing website itself saying yes it’s true up to 40%! And when I confronted the housing author with their own website and showed and quoted it to them they saw it with their own eyes and said “well I don’t know why it says that but no! You can’t!”
    Me, my child and even my ESA pets are really suffering living where we are and I need to know ythe truth it would be a game changer in finding housing for us. Pls I’d appreciate any help!!!


      1. Yes, My question is Why is the housing authority (Hacla) and my own section 8 case worker both stating that this “Go up to 40%” is not true? They both stated when your VPS (Voucher Payment Standards) (meaning the total amount of your voucher) is calculated they already configure 40% of your income and that is how they got to the VPS. And my second question is if they are just misinformed how can I prove to them otherwise? Because I do believe what you are saying but they both won’t budge


  2. Hi, I am worried, me and my husband got our letter still got to go to the meeting. Our income is 21,936 I found a house for 900.00 I am in a wheelchair this house has a ramp. So my questions is my voucher is just for me and my husband. Which I think the rent is higher than my voucher. Can I pay the difference.


  3. Hi
    This is my first time using section 8
    I was told that my voucher will be for a one bedroom. But I can only find two bedrooms in my area. My county office will let me port out I can’t seem to find a one bedroom in the new county. With all this being said I receive SSDI, and I’m employed. I ask the new county if I could get a two bedroom she stated that it would have to be used for medical supplies etc. basically told me that she just doesn’t give an ok for a two bedroom.
    So at this point it looks like I won’t be keeping the Sec8 . I don’t know what else to do and keep in mind you are on a time line with them to even find a place….


  4. This was such a relief finding this. Thank you for taking the time out to put this much needed information out here for others to access.


  5. Hello Management,
    I am facing the same issues where the rent is more than my voucher amount.
    I ported in from Columbus, Ohio to Detroit Michigan, but now I am living with my sister in Southfield MI. It is so hard to find a house within my voucher amount, because the landlord wants 3x the rent or income, but I don’t understand how are you putting your property on the market as an section 8 low-income subsidize program.


  6. Thanks for your information. I was scared since we had moved out the old place ( Sacramento) and moved into the new home (San Diego). We ported -out Sacramento and ported in San Diego. After reading these topics I am feeling a lot better.
    For section 8 renter – Do not move in before you understand PAYMENT STANDARD – Number of bed room of your voucher – FAIR MARKET RENT – Landlord asking RENT – Etc… Just be careful, patient and wait for the case manager works out the numbers.
    I am disabled – so I must apply for “Exception to reasonable accommodation” and ” Exception to Payment Standard”. I learned so much for the last 30 days – I thought our family became homeless. This website gives us info and restore our confidence.


  7. Hi, so if my monthly income is 1072 and the voucher limit is 1275 and the rent is 1370, would it be affordable? The only utility is electricity which is 47. the rent and voucher is a 95 dollar difference.


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