If you’re looking for low income housing, you’ve probably wondered how to apply for Section 8 vouchers. This housing choice program offers monthly rent assistance to those who qualify. We’ll help you figure out if you qualify and how you can apply for this program.
What is Section 8?
Section 8 is a program designed to help low income people afford safe, clean housing. These funds are distributed by a federal agency (HUD), but the program is administered by local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs). The PHA pays the landlord directly each month.
Who is eligible for Section 8?
Section 8 is designed for low and very low income individuals and families who are in need of clean, sanitary housing.
You may be eligible for Section 8 if you meet all these requirements:
- You must be a US citizen or an eligible non-citizen.
- Your household income must not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area you live in.
Depending on where you’re applying, you may also need to meet certain asset limits or other requirements. For example, some local agencies prohibit felons, especially sex offenders, from participating in Section 8.
Here’s how to apply for Section 8!
In order to apply for Section 8, you will need to contact your local PHA. You can find your local agency on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development website. Click here for their directory.
Once you apply, you will need to complete an interview with your local housing authority. You will be expected to provide evidence and documentation, such as your recent pay stubs, bank statemetns, and more.
After that, you’ll need to work with the PHA to find a private rental that will accept your voucher.
How does the housing voucher program work?
Once you’ve figured out how to apply for Section 8, you have to wait for your application to be approved. You may be placed on a waiting list before you’re actually able to receive those benefits.
When you receive your voucher, you will be advised of what size unit you are eligible for. After that, you will need to find a landlord who will accept it. You can choose your own housing, including single-family homes, townhomes or apartments. The home you choose must meet the program requirements.
The program requirements include:
- The housing must meet certain health and safety standards.
- The housing cannot be located in a subsidized housing project.
- The owner must agree to rent under the Section 8 program.
Once you have found housing, it will need to be inspected by the PHA. They will also determine if the rent amount is reasonable for the unit.
If the unit is approved, you’ll be able to sign a lease and move in. The PHA will pay a portion of the rent directly to the landlord. You will be responsible for the remainder of the rent. Usually, you will be expected to contribute 30-40% of your household’s monthly income toward your rent and utilities.
Wait — what about the wait lists?
Wait lists are, unfortunately, common for Section 8. There is often way more demand than supply. In some areas, the program may be closed to new applicants until there is more space on the waitlist.
However, wait lists aren’t as straightforward as you think. The local PHA has the ability to set preferences, which bump people higher on the list if they meet certain criteria (such as being homeless, displaced, or paying more than 50% of their income toward rent). There are also many reasons why people on the wait list are not accepted when their turn comes. For more information on wait lists, click here.
In the meantime, don’t let wait lists discourage you from figuring out how to apply for Section 8. You can’t get help if you don’t apply!
How can I find a unit that will accept my vouchers?
That’s a great question. We answer it in this post!