The answer is yes, but the process will take more time and effort. Note that an automatic disqualification applies to applicants convicted of a sex offender crime and placed on a registry or convicted of manufacturing meth.
Both of these rules also apply to all members of a household. For instance: If an individual applying does not have a criminal record, however, a member of their household is a sex offender, then the entire family will be disqualified.
In addition, individual states have their own eligibly guidelines that may prohibit certain felons from qualifying for Section 8. It is important to check the regional public housing authorities (PHAs) for the current regulations.
HUD Guidelines for Felons
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) follows certain criteria to decide whether convicted felons are qualified for housing assistance:
A felony has to be more than five years old. But, there are instances when an application might be approved quicker. If a felon has gone through a rehab process and has a certificate of completion, then they could potentially be accepted sooner.
- Conviction of violent crimes (fraud or drug trafficking). Contact your local PHA on how to apply if convicted of violent crimes.
- History of default rent payments. However, if the applicant has paid at least half of the rent payments but not able to make the payments in the full amount, then the missed payments will not be counted against them.
- A member of the household has a documented history of drug/alcohol abuse related felonies.
- There is a personal or family history of poor relationships with past neighbors.
Remember PHA’s have different criteria for the application process. It’s crucial to know the requirements and disqualifications for each. For more information, visit the local PHA website or contact them directly.
Apply to multiple local PHAs as soon as possible. Section 8 waiting lists could have closed and may no longer be accept applications. The more applications you submit, the higher your chances are of making it to the top of the waitlist. A background check will be conducted, so it’s important to be honest through the entire application process.
Standard documents that will be needed to apply:
- Birth Certificate
- Financial statements
- Income( Pay stubs)
- Criminal background history
- Tax forms
- Primary present residence
- List of places lived within the last five years
- Past landlords’ numbers
Remember, don’t leave anything out, even if you had an unpleasant relationship with a prior landlord. Gaps in the application can be a cause for disqualification. Also, be sure not to miss deadlines. Missing a deadline can close an application and it could take months to be able to reapply.
After the application has been submitted, an interview will be conducted by the PHA. This is where applicants will state their case and show an PHA official employee how they will be a responsible tenant. The housing authorities may call previous landlords, which is why it is a good idea to provide trustworthy references.
How Long Does the Process Take?
Low- income housing programs are popular and can take a while to process. In large cities, the waiting time can take anywhere from 2-4 years. In less competitive areas, it may only take 6-12 months.
It is vital to keep all information up-to-date and to check in every few weeks to make sure your application is still active and moving along on the waiting list. If the waiting list is taking longer than expected, then applicants are free to apply to other areas with a smaller list. This may help speed up the process.
Who Has Priority on the Waitlist?
There are several circumstances and situations that can help an application rise on the waiting list. Some of these priorities include:
-The applicant has a serious medical emergency.
– The applicant is residing in shelters or on streets.
– Being evicted at without fault of their own.
– Domestic violence victim.
Living With a Felon
As mentioned above, the same application rules apply for a felons that are applying as they do for a family that is trying to add a felon to the household. Sex offenders and drug traffickers for meth are permanently disqualified for from applying to public housing, which means they are not allowed to join any Section 8 household.
If a felon wants to join a household, then the Section 8 tenant is required to inform the local PHA. The PHA will then decide if the felon is allowed to live with the tenant or not.
Failure to inform PHA’s of a new household member can cause termination from benefits and in some cases may cause tenants to be banned from receiving housing assistance in the future.
Can a Guest Stay that is a Felon?
If a family member or friend who has been convicted of a Felony needs to reside temporarily with a member living in Section 8, there are rules to follow.
First, the tenant will need permission from the local PHA and landlord. Depending on the charges, the felon may be permitted temporary. Failure to follow the guidelines is considered fraud, which is illegal.
When a felon is permitted to stay in the house they may not stay longer than 14 days consecutively. If the tenant is caught housing the felon for longer than 14 days, the housing voucher can be revoked.
How Does a Housing Voucher Work?
When a voucher is given, the applicant is free to start looking for housing. Note that landlords typically require criminal background history and will run a background checks, and some landlords may require an interview before agreeing to sign a lease. Read more about Housing Vouchers Here.
It is not uncommon for some landlords to turn away applicants due to a felony conviction. It’s wise to be upfront and honest with the landlord when interviewing for their property.
With a voucher, eligible applicants will only pay 30% of their gross monthly earnings to rent. The remainder of the rent is covered by the HUD and and the landlord is paid on the applicant behalf. After a lease is up, the voucher is still active and able to be used for the next eligible Section 8 residence
How to Search for Section 8 Housing?
Housing Search Agencies and (CAPs) Community Action Programs assist applicants in starting their search for proper housing and help the applicant file and complete the application. Another option is the (HCEC) Housing Consumer Education Center.
Note: If a family with children are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, contact the Department of Transitional Assistance office nearest to you. (DTA). DTA can help get priority statues while searching for housing. Go her to learn more about Section 8 housing options.