When you need housing, it can be difficult to navigate the complicated systems that offer assistance, and it can be even more difficult when there is a long wait. Many folks wonder how to get Section 8 immediately. While it isn’t always possible to be granted Section 8 assistance right away, there are some ways the process can be expedited if you meet certain conditions. Read on for this information and more.
What is Section 8?
Section 8, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is a federal program which is administered locally through public housing agencies (PHAs).
Section 8 is different from other public housing programs in that it allows recipients to rent, and sometimes buy, housing in the private market, as long as the rental unit meets the minimum health and safety standards set by your local PHA. Worth noting is that not all houses and apartments are available to rent under Section 8, as landlords must agree to rent under the program.
When an individual or family receives Section 8, they typically do not pay more than 40% of their income for rent, and the remainder is paid directly to the landlord by the local PHA.
Who is eligible for Section 8?
U.S. citizens and permanent residents with a low income are eligible to apply for Section 8. The income threshold for the program is determined by each local PHA, so the income requirements will vary based on where you live. In general, if you make 50% or less than the median income for your family size in your area, you may be eligible for Section 8.
Those who are interested in applying for Section 8 should do so through their local PHA.
How to get Section 8 immediately
While you are likely anxious to get help and find affordable housing for yourself and your family, Section 8 is known for having very long waiting lists. In fact, sometimes waiting lists are even closed when more people have applied than can be assisted in a reasonable amount of time.
However, local PHAs are allowed to give preference to families who meet certain criteria, including families who are homeless or are in danger of becoming homeless, families who are spending more than 50% of their income on housing, and families who have been involuntarily displaced. PHAs also have the authority to establish their own preferences for additional applicant types. Contact your local PHA for more information about priority vouchers.
In addition to priority vouchers, a temporary program through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 has made about 70,000 emergency housing vouchers (EHVs) available to those in need of immediate housing. EHVs are available to individuals and families who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, are at high risk of housing instability, or are “fleeing or attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking”.
It appears that in most localities, it is not possible to apply directly to receive an emergency housing voucher. Rather, individuals who believe they are eligible for the program should speak to their case worker.
While both priority vouchers and the temporary emergency housing voucher program are designed to aid families who are most in need of housing, it does mean that for individuals and families who do not meet the criteria, this will not be how to get Section 8 immediately.
If it seems that you will be unable to get Section 8 immediately and are still in need of housing assistance, check out Low Income Relief’s resources on housing, including articles on rental assistance programs, security deposit assistance, and tips on finding low-income housing with minimal waiting lists.