Although, funded by HUD, Section 8 applicants receive housing choice vouchers from the local public housing authority (PHA). In order to qualify for the vouchers, applicants must meet specific requirements of the Section 8 Program.
The most common requirement is based on income. To be considered for Section 8 or most other low-income housing program, a family or household must have a gross annual income below the median income level of the area they are applying in. This income level may fluctuate year to year and will differ from city to city.
After a household is deemed eligible for the Section 8 program, they are generally placed on a waiting list before they are able to receive a housing voucher. Families are free to choose their rental property if the property meets the program’s safety and health standards. It can also be an option for the family to stay in their current resident if the PHA approves the property.
What Is A Housing Choice Voucher?
Housing Choice Vouchers are given to families after they are deemed eligible for the Section 8 Program and resources become available. The Housing Choice Vouchers are used as confirmation and given to the landlord who is providing the property. The voucher confirms that the tenant has qualified for the Section 8 and the program will be paying the majority portion of the tenants rent.
Application Options For Section 8 Housing
Applying for Section 8 requires a following few steps. First, an applicant must locate the local PHA and find out if they are accepting new applications. Each PHA has its own application methods, some of which may include:
- In-person: PHA’s may require a family to apply in person, which means the application must be picked up in person too.
- Online: Most PHA’s allow an online submission through an online portal.
- Mail: Lastly, PHA’s may allow an application to be mailed, especially if the applicant does not reside locally.
After submitting your application remember to keep your address current during the application process. PHA’s will mail an appointment letter once the applicant reached the top of the waitlist and resources become available. PHA’s may also mail letters to confirm whether the applicant is still wanting to receive assistance. They do this to narrow down the list and open slots for other families. If there is no response to the letter, then this may be cause for removal from the waitlist. Click here for more information on Housing Waitlists.
The mailed appointment letter will be comprised of the applicant’s interview time and date. The applicant must attend the appointment to secure a place on the waitlist. During the interview, a PHA worker will confirm the applicant’s eligibly for the housing program. They may do this by asking the applicant to provide additional documents including:
- Proof of identity (Birth Certificates)
- Previous landlords contact
- Childcare expenses
- Medical expenses
- Proof of Income (W2, Pay stubs, Bank Statement)
Once eligibility is verified, a briefing on the voucher will be completed. The PHA worker will go over all the details regarding the program and ensure the applicant understands the voucher process and their responsibilities.
After the applicant understands the information given they will then qualify to receive a housing choice voucher and can start looking for a property.
Reminder: The applicant is responsible for coming to an agreement with the landlord and for the rent amount and using the housing choice voucher. After an agreement is made a PHA worker needs to inspect the property before the family can move in.
Requirements For Section 8
If the applicant believes they meet the requirements for Section 8 housing, and registration is open, then the applicant can begin the application process. Depending on the state, there may be more than one way to submit documents. Search the web for the local PHA website or phone number for information regarding application submission.
General requirements for the application include household size and information on each member. The information will include:
- Social Security Number
- Financial Verification
- Medical Status (is the applicant or someone in the family pregnant?)
- Does a family member have a disability?
- Criminal History
During the application process, the applicant must provide documentation to verify the information above. If any changes need to be made, it is the applicant’s responsibly to submit an official information change form to the PHA as soon as possible. Once submitted, the application can then be reviewed. If the application is approved, the PHA will place the family on the waiting list.
Eligibility for a family is based solely on the circumstances of each family and the requirements of the local PHA. Families who are considered extremely low-income are given priority. A majority of the Section 8 funding and resources will be provided to families that are considered extremely low-income.
When And When To Apply For Section 8
The best time to apply for Section 8 is after you have your documentation in order and have predetermined that your household income falls within the income limits of your area. If you believe you are a potentially eligible for section 8 we recommend that you connect your local PHA.
PHA’s are located throughout all States and US territories. A family can apply with any of them, even if the family isn’t currently living in the jurisdiction. For a list of nation wide PHA’s follow this link.
A significant responsibility for a PHA is managing the local public housing waitlist. If the list gets too long, the PHA will temporarily close the registration window in a effort to keep the waitlist manageable until more housing resources become available. This means an applicant can only apply when the window is open. PHA’s do their best to manage applicants and match them appropriately with available resources. Be patient with PHA’s, the Section 8 program is in high demand and resources are distributed as quickly as possible by PHA’s.
It’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the jurisdiction and whether the PHA is accepting applications before beginning the process. If the local PHA is not accepting applications, an applicant could apply to a different jurisdiction. Stay in touch with the PHA after submitting an application to confirm eligibility, estimated waitlist periods and appointments.
Housing Options For Section 8
Many Section 8 properties are listed online but visiting a local PHA can help during the rental search because PHA’s maintain a list of available rentals. Knowing the local housing options makes it easier for families searching for housing in their area find the home best suited to their needs.
Additionally, third-party websites provide a Section 8 filter for properties in the area too. If a family is still having difficulty finding a property, then HUD has a database of listings featuring addresses, photos, and price of the rental.