Section 8 is the most popular housing program in the nation. Each year the Section 8 program gets a substantial number of applicants making it challenging to assist all eligible or qualified family in a timely fashion. It can take several months for households to receive financial assistance even following the applications acceptance.
Although the program is funded by HUD (Dept of Housing and Urban Development) Section 8 is mostly managed by public housing authorities also known as the PHA. PHA’s assign qualified applicants numbers to track their spot on the waiting list. These lists often become long and can close for unspecified time periods.
How Long Is The Waiting List Time Period?
Although PHA’s use a waiting list for Section 8, the waiting time can still take months. In fact, there have been cases where families have waited longer than a year. The extended wait periods typically occur in largely populated areas and are created when the need for housing assistance is greater than accessible housing resources and funds.
PHA’s receive funding for the housing choice voucher program each year from HUD. Once funding is received, the regional PHA’s are in charge of helping qualified families by using the money. However, the higher the number of eligible families in the region, the quicker the funds are used, which increases the waiting list.
Another thing to consider for the wait time is eligibility. After an applicant applies, eligibility is then verified prior to a PHA assigning a number to the applicant for the waitlist. However, being on the waitlist does not secure assistance. If a family’s number rises on the waitlist, the PHA will request an interview to go over the family’s eligibility and reexamine the application. If the family is no longer regarded as qualified, they won’t be given a voucher for housing.
Priority Waiting List
PHA’s speed up waiting times by establishing local priorities factors. The Section 8 program classifies applicants by their income level using the following categories:
- Low-income: Applicants who’s income is 80 percent of the local median income.
- Very low-income: Applicants who’s income is 50 percent of the local median income.
- Extremely low-income: Applicants who’s income is 30 percent of the local median income.
These classifications help program employees decide which households are in the most need of Section 8 assistance. If a family is extremely low-income, then the family will have preference over others on the waiting list. Based on the Section 8 guidelines, at least 75 percent of a PHA’s housing vouchers must go to the families who are found to be extremely low-income level.
Nevertheless, a PHA may also choose additional local preferences based on other factors, such as homelessness, substandard living conditions or involuntary displacement. The applicants can receive assistance when the applications are approved and the proper resources are available. If there is no availability of resources, applicants are placed on the top of the waiting list, regardless of when they applied. Although this helps the applicants with priority it can create an even longer waiting time for applicants on the waitlist.
What To Do While Waiting
Stay prepared and up-to date. As previously mentioned, applicants can be listed to the waiting list for a prolonged period. During this period, applicants need to stay current by checking their status regularly and updating any new information.
Check an application status by calling the local PHA or viewing their status online. It’s important to keep all information current because many PHA’s will send out notices periodically to confirm whether the applicant is still interested in assistance. If the PHA doesn’t receive feedback from the applicant, then they may lose their place on the waitlist to other families. Response time is key!
What Happens If The Registration Window Closes?
Waiting on the waitlist is not the only thing to consider for how long the process will take to receive housing. Closing the registration is another possibility. A PHA will do this if the wait times become longer than usual. The closures take place for an unspecified time frame, while the PHA strives to help the already qualified families on the list. During the closed periods, new applicants are not accepted, regardless of the family’s eligibility.
HUD gives each PHA the ability to choose how to manage registrations. News sites and newspapers may report when registration resumes. Applicants can also call the nearest PHA or visit the PHA’s website to find out whether they are accepting applications again. Some PHA’s will refer to a lottery process when they reopen if there is a large quantity of applicants.
Luckily, if the local PHA is not accepting applications, families have the option to apply to other jurisdictions. PHA’s can receive applications even if the applicant does not reside in the area, unless the applications don’t meet the areas eligibility qualifications. Income levels are based off the area’s median income average, so an applicant should make note of this. If interested in looking for other PHA’s, families can Click Here to view the HUD database as it provides a contact info of each PHA in the country.
Families who are given a housing voucher could be obligated to reside in the jurisdiction they applied for a period of time. Generally, the family will be required to live there for a year. Once the time requirement is met, the family can choose to relocate a voucher to a different PHA where homes are available.