December 4th •
Are you looking for a place to live? Can’t find the right property to rent or buy? Is everything way above your price range? You’re not alone. For most low-income families in the United States finding a place to live is a miserable task.
If you have financial challenges and are looking for a place to live things aren’t as easy as picking a property out of a newspaper. There are a slew of points you need to think about. And limitations to keep in mind. But, the good news is that the government has a tonne of programs designed to help you.
Some questions you must ask yourself when making this decision are, how high is the rent, where is the apartment, is the area safe, how are the schools in the area, what is the quality of sanitation and toiletry? Not all of your requirements will be met. But you must make do with the best you can find. The more time you spend looking the better your final option will be.
For most low-income families purchasing property is simply not an option. So they must rent living space from others. And in doing so they end up spending over 50 percent of their monthly pay as rent. This too while living in conditions of complete squalor, often in unsafe areas. With all their energy focused on keeping a roof over their families’ heads and food on the table, they have no time to plan for the future.
This is why the state provides housing assistance to these low-income families through schemes such as the section 8 voucher system. Since the housing choice voucher program caters specifically to low-income households it is uniquely adapted to dealing with the problems they generally face. Additionally, this housing assistance is also available to disabled persons and elderly citizens.
The section 8 plan is similar to most other federal financial assistance programs in that there is a list of requirements you must meet to be deemed eligible. And once you cross these hurdles you can claim your housing benefits. Eligible citizens are provided the opportunity to search for an apartment, house or living space suitable to their needs, depending on their household income and family size.
So, what is section 8, what are the eligibility requirements, and what else do you need to know about the federal housing assistance programs? The terms, conditions and various criteria can seem complicated to the uninitiated. But, we are going to explain all this and more, so you know all your options going in.
One of the most renowned programs in the United States, the section8 program provides housing assistance and financial aid to those in need. The magnitude of the program creates a need for administration departments to keep everything in check. Because of the huge scale of the program, there are over 2400 Public Housing Agencies.
These PHAs manage and administer housing programs localized in a specific area, like a city or county. PHAs receive funding on a federal level and are overseen by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Officials from the HUD look over your section 8 application and determine your eligibility.
Once you meet the eligibility requirements the Section 8 program provides financial assistance in the form of rent. This is how it works. You are responsible for paying 30% of your household’s overall monthly income in the form of rent. Whatever amount remains is handled by the PHA managing your voucher. The housing authority official will get in touch with your landlord and pay the remainder of the rent with no intervention necessary on your part.
HUD is the abbreviation for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and is the body that oversees the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. The HUD website has details for all their various financial assistance programs.
The program does not have specific apartments to be assigned. However, some guidelines regulate the maximum rent of the living space and the overall condition of the space. So you cannot pick a very expensive apartment or one that has no proper sanitation facilities.
But, for the most part, voucher holders are responsible for searching for a suitable apartment themselves. You must ensure the living space accepts vouchers. As per policy, an official visits your apartment to make sure the remaining requirements are met before it is approved.
Because section 8 vouchers are portable they do not limit your movement. After one year of living in a certain area and receiving benefits, you can choose to move out of state. As long as you move to an area that has a public housing authority your voucher will still be valid. In simpler terms, if you get a housing voucher in Kansas you can move to Nebraska and still receive financial assistance. Just go to the PHA in that area.
Why is there confusion regarding porting? People have probably told you that this is not possible. That you cannot move from one state to another and continue receiving section 8 benefits. This is probably because they were confusing the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher with the Section 8 Project-Based Voucher (PBV) program.
These are two completely different programs. The Section 8 Project-Based Voucher (PBV) program allocates living space in a particular apartment complex or area. If you apply for the Housing Choice Voucher and do not get one you can apply for the Project-Based Voucher. Then, after one year, you can request a transfer to the Housing Choice Voucher program. And they will put you on the Section 8 waiting list.
To sum up:
What to expect when you file a HUD application? If you want a general overview of what will happen when you apply for section 8 housing this is what you can expect.
The process to apply for housing assistance can be complicated if you don’t know what to do. All you need to do is follow these steps and everything will become incredibly simple.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has numerous PHAs overseeing the Section 8 Housing Voucher program. The PHAs are divided by state, city and zip code. To receive housing vouchers you first need to find your nearest PHA. All your documentation will go through this PHA. And local officials will determine your eligibility for the program.
A common question we get is, how do I find section 8 housing near me? To find your nearest PHA simply visit the HUD website.
Once you have found the right PHA you need to determine whether you are actually eligible to receive housing assistance. Later we will discuss the criteria for eligibility in great detail. But for now, the basic basis for determining eligibility is the size of the household and the total annual household income. If your household’s overall annual income is more than 50% of your area’s median income you will not qualify for aid. Additionally, you must either be a US citizen or have eligible immigration status.
If you meet these basic conditions you should file an application. The application is free of charge. How you can obtain the application depends on your local public housing agency. Generally, the applications are available online or at the PHA office in your area. You can fill out Section 8 application online free. And you can also ask to be mailed an application.
When filling out your application you must make sure all your information is accurate and up-to-date. There can be no inconsistencies in the data you provide to the state officials. Before you start filling out your application make sure you have all the required data on hand. This means your date of birth, Social Security Number, employment history, the number of people in your household and all of their respective incomes.
Additional requirements may involve providing contact information, email and mailing addresses, housing history, employment history, the reason for recent unemployment, expense reports, criminal history, and banking information.
A few weeks after you submit your application you will receive your decision. You will either receive a spot on the section 8 housing list or face rejection. If you are accepted you can continue looking for an apartment. If you are rejected, you will be sent to the waitlist.
When you are rejected by the HUD office you may be sent to the waiting list. Rejection of your application does not always mean ineligibility. Unfortunately, the PHA receives a lot more applications than there are resources available. Often families face rejection simply because there was not enough space.
In such situations, applicants may be placed on a waiting list from where they will eventually receive aid when more resources are available. If your application is rejected the PHA will provide an explanation to justify their decision. So, you will find out why you were deemed eligible. And if you think the decision unfair you can contest it by asking for a review.
Unfortunately, because of the unavailability of funding, some families end up spending years stuck on the waiting list. The ratio of housing voucher applicants to financial aid allocation is just too broad. Once you submit your application it will take a few months before you receive a decision. You will either be rejected or put on the waiting list.
To confirm your place on the waiting list log into the online portal or ask to receive the decision by mail. If you want to receive the decision by mail you will have to make this choice clear when filing your initial application.
Once you meet the criteria for Section 8 housing vouchers, the next step is finding housing. According to state policy, tenants must pay a portion of the rent. This portion is based not on the rent, but on the tenants’ monthly income. Typically, you are required to contribute 30 percent of your monthly salary. The PHA pays the rest.
All Section 8 houses must meet certain requirements. You must ensure that the property you select accepts payments by voucher. A state employee will physically inspect and approve the property before you can sign a rental agreement. You are not responsible for any payment except the 30 percent. The PHAs will contact your landlord directly and settle all financial matters. Your involvement is unnecessary.
Rejection of your proposal does not mean you should give up. If you do not meet the requirements for Section 8 housing vouchers simply apply for project-based vouchers. Tenant-based vouchers are harder to get because they allow more freedom of movement and are in greater demand. Project-based vouchers have geographical restrictions and deal with the allocation of certain properties. This makes them comparatively easier to get.
If your application for a tenant-based voucher was rejected simply apply for a project-based voucher. This way you can apply for a transfer to the tenant-based system after a year. And will have greater odds of receiving financial assistance.
So, what is HUD housing? The Section 8 Program began in 1974. During its 40 year tenure, the program has benefited hundreds of households. Initially, the 1937 US Housing Act was serving as the main source of federal housing assistance. And was responsible for providing low-income households with financial aid. Over-time changes, reforms, and amendments transformed the Act.
For example, in 1961, the program was renamed the Section 23 Leased Housing Program. The intention behind the Leased Housing Program was to provide low-income households the opportunity to rent living space from the local government at subsidized prices. This meant the tenants would pay a portion of the cost, with the state covering the rest. The state was even paying for maintenance and upkeep.
It was only in 1974 that the Leased Housing Program became the HUD Section 8 Housing Voucher Program. How does Section 8 work? Under this new title, the program began providing project-based assistance and tenant-based assistance. The first allocated state-owned living space to people, while the second allowed freedom of movement and covered a section of the rental cost.
While the basic format remains the same, the Section 8 program has undergone numerous changes. Today, hundreds of families in-need apply for emergency housing assistance each year. Only a few qualify because of a limitation of resources. But the state makes decisions based on the Section 8 requirements like household size and overall income of the family.
To qualify for financial assistance you must follow a certain set of steps and meet the provided criteria. First, you must confirm that you are eligible to receive assistance. Second, you need to calculate the overall household income of all the members in your household. Third, you need to identify any possible restrictions that could hinder your application. And finally, you must be fully aware of the minutiae of why applications get rejected.
To meet the eligibility criteria for the Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers you must be eighteen or more years of age, an American citizen, a noncitizen with eligible immigration status, and a family. What do these specifications mean? “Lawfully present” or “qualified non-citizen” is when an immigrant has the state’s approval to live in and work in the United States.
Several immigrants fall under this category, not limited to refugees, lawful permanent residents, trafficking victims, registry immigrants, and battered immigrants. Additionally, all inhabitants of the Marshall Islands, Guam, Micronesia, and Palau also fall under this category.
What is a family? The US Department of Housing and Urban Development often uses the term ‘family’ in official forms and documentation. Do not let this confuse you. You do not need to have children to be a family and classify for housing assistance. In fact, a single applicant is also a family. Since family and household are interchangeable in this case. And a household or family can be made up of one or more members.
As per federal regulations, your overall household earnings must be within the Section 8 income limits to qualify for household assistance. This means less than 50 percent of the median income for your area. The AMI or Area Median Income data, for all cities and counties, is published every year by the HUD.
This value is dependent on the area you live in and the number of people in your household. The greater the size of your household the higher your income limit and the easier it is to apply for housing. With each member, there is a significant jump, including children who are dependents.
Your overall household income is dependent on your gross income. These are your earnings before paying taxès and spending on daily expenses. Children cannot contribute to this amount. Only the earnings of members above the age of 18 count as gross income.
The PHA in your area will have the income limits listed in their public notice. You may visit the housing offices or get the information from their official website. Additionally, you can consult our federal experts on our website.
The HUD uses certain formulas to determine the relative eligibility of applicants. An informed applicant must be aware of any restrictions that may hinder their application, as well as, any preferences that can aid it. This does not mean you should alter your application or lie to the authorities. That is illegal and you will be caught and charged appropriately.
What this means simply is that having the information is key. Since the competition is so high applicants often end up with their names on the waitlist. Then they end up spending years stuck on the waitlist. Some waitlist applicants receive preferential treatment. For example, local residents, disabled persons and the elderly receive assistance faster.
It is important to understand that these are neither rules nor certainties. They are simply patterns we have observed that are necessary for you to know about. You should apply regardless of whether or not you fit into any of these preferred categories. Very rarely do waitlists specify openings restricted to a certain demographic, like local residents or the homeless. Because this can only happen after receiving approval from the HUD. Generally, the lists are open to the public.
Just as some people receive preferential treatment others face greater chances of rejection. For example:
People with a poor rental history are automatically deemed risks. Applicants must provide a complete rental history going back two to five years. You will have to present a detailed history, including contact information for previous landlords, addresses for all properties you stayed in and reasons for why you vacated the premises.
If you or any member of your household has ever received an eviction notice from the US Department of Housing and Development you are automatically disqualified. Your application is rejected regardless of the reasons for eviction. The same goes if you owe debts to any housing authorities.
If you or any member of your household has a criminal record, you will likely not receive housing assistance. You will not be disqualified on this basis. But, in a race with such high stakes and stiff competition, your chances become minimal.
A person with no criminal record has greater odds than a person with a criminal record, and a person with a record but no conviction has greater odds than a person who was convicted of a crime. Felons, especially violent felons, find their odds further reduced. Even if you are not a felon, claimants with histories of drug abuse, violent tendencies, alcoholism, or criminal activity seldom make the cut.
This rate of discrimination depends on the area you live in and the PHA in your area. Some PHAs allow applicants with criminal records leniency depending on the type of crime, and how long ago the crime was committed. While other PHAs offer no such leniency.
There are certain cases where no leniency may be given. For example, recent convictions, violent or drug-related crimes, or sex offenders. Additionally, people with a history of eviction from any rental assistance programs cannot receive federal financial assistance. Applicants with drug-related issues are given a chance if there is suitable evidence of rehabilitation.
Finally, under no situation can you justify lying to the authorities. All the information on your application must be a hundred percent accurate. Whether or not you get on Section 8 rental housing list depends on several factors. But, lying, misrepresentation of facts, or falsification of documents can mean legal trouble. If you do not understand a section of the application consult a PHA worker before filling it out.
Getting onto the Section 8 waiting list is an important step in the housing voucher process. The lists are not restricted by state or area. So you can apply for a spot anywhere in the United States. You do not need to apply for a spot in your state.
Different waiting lists function differently. Some open and close according to set times. While others remain open year-round. When a closing date is not set the list will continue taking applicants till the PHA decides to close it. You cannot apply after the closing date. So check the PHA public notice to confirm the relevant dates.
To meet the requirements you need to follow these steps. First, visit the website for Affordable Housing and check out their waiting lists page. Second, research your area of interest. Third, register for email updates. And finally, contact a PHA.
Knowing the opening and closing dates for your chosen waiting list is essential. If you miss your window of opportunity you lose valuable time. Find out all relevant information by visiting the Affordable Housing site.The dates are organized according to the housing authority name. Additional details show you currently open waiting lists, those opening soon and whether or not a chosen PHA accepts online applications.
The HUD runs the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. So, the process of how to apply for low-income housing is mostly the same. But individual applications are managed by PHAs. And PHAs in different areas operate differently. To get the relevant information go to the Affordable Housing website and research your area of interest, i.e. your particular city, country, or state.
Researching becomes easier if you know the name of your local PHA. Then, you can simply search for it by name. But, even if you don’t all the information you need is readily available online.
Most people dread registering for email updates. Because this usually means a lot of spam content. But, the Affordable Housing mailing list keeps applicants updated with relevant information on waiting list openings. Over 300,000 claimants use this facility each week. And you can choose to receive anywhere between two and five updates per week.
So, register for email updates today. Additionally, if you subscribe, as well as, register you will get additional alerts when new waiting lists open in your area.
The final step is contacting a PHA. You can collect all the information in the world, but if you want government housing assistance you will need to contact a PHA. You can do this by visiting their website, or by calling their offices. Moreover, housing authorities put out a public notice with their waiting list dates. So contact your PHA on information regarding their public notices. Getting your information directly from your PHA ensures it is accurate.
If you want to know how to contact your local PHA just visit the Affordable Housing website. Contact information is available on the top of the page. And localized contact information for different PHAs is also available. All you need to do is put in your area.
After you figure out how waitlists work and when yours opens the next step is applying for a spot. Remember, the better informed you are about federal procedures the better you chances of getting a housing voucher. The first step is determining how your chosen PHA accepts applications. Next, you fill out the application with pertinent, recent and accurate information. Finally, you submit your application. And if there is a major change in any of the data you have submitted, update it immediately.
Different PHAs accept applications through different methods. Generally, PHAs will allow you to submit your application online, mail it to them, or fill out a form in their local office. Not all housing authorities provide all these options. Some PHAs do not accept applications online and require that you send them a hard copy. You must find out which category yours falls into beforehand. You want to leave yourself enough time to go into the office if needed. However, this policy is not applicable if the claimant requests reasonable accommodation.
Reasonable accommodation is a request to change the method of application submission to facilitate an applicant. This can be based on their age, disability, or any other medical condition. The PHA may make allowances in such a case. If an applicant does not fit in any of the reasonable accommodation categories but is still unable to complete their application, they can ask a third party for assistance. This is usually a social worker with knowledge of the system.
No fee is required to apply for section 8 housing. In fact, asking for money throughout the application process is strictly against HUD guidelines. So, do not pay for a housing application. If someone asks you for money report them to the US Department of Housing and Development. They are either running a scam or violating official policy to line their own pockets. Make sure the application you are filling out is legit.
All housing authorities have names and you can confirm their legitimacy by checking them out online. Or visiting the HUD website. To save yourself from falling victim to any such schemes read the Affordable Housing Scam Prevention Guide.
If you are filling out your application online you will need a working email address to set up a free account. Making a Gmail account takes less than five minutes so it’s okay if you don’t already have one. Keep your passwords and login information safe and private. Make sure your passwords are easy to remember so you do not forget them. If you do not have access to a computer or the internet, you can visit a library, or an internet cafe, or even borrow one from a friend. The application won’t take long to fill out so you’ll only need it for an hour max.
Additionally, housing offices usually have computers available for use. But these are limited in number so you cannot rely on this as an option. Moreover, if you submit an online application you will receive all correspondence through the email address you provided. So you need to be logged in. Or at least check your email regularly. You don’t need a computer for this. You can just log in on your phone. Check your email diligently and respond to any queries you receive from the housing authorities.
Next, you fill out the application with pertinent, recent and accurate information. An application may have a single page or multiple pages. You should fill out all the required sections to the best of your ability. The housing office will give you specific instructions regarding how they want it filled out. They can specific certain sections or ask you to fill out the entire thing.
Either way, you should follow their instructions to the letter. Because not doing so will result in termination of application. While some housing offices do return incomplete applications most do not. So make sure your form is complete before submission.
Common information you will need includes your name, date of birth, contact information, email address, mailing address, Social Security Number, rental history, criminal record, and the overall gross income of your household. You do not need to provide employment information for underage members of your household because employment income only includes adults above the age of 18.
Finally, submit your application according to the method set by your PHA. If your PHA does not accept online applications you will have to mail them a hard copy. And if the requirement states that you visit their offices to hand in a form in person, then mailing it to them is a waste of time. They will not accept it.
Additionally, you must submit your applications within the given time. This goes for both the date and time. If the housing authority specifies that the waiting list will close at 5:00 pm on Friday, any online forms sent in at 5:01 pm or after are disqualified. The same goes for mailed applications. If the deadline is February 5th and the postmark says February 6th you will face automatic rejection. Finally, sending in multiple applications will also result in rejection.
Updating your information is a requirement. The Section 8 Housing Voucher program works from your most recent information. Since families can sometimes spend years on the waiting list the information on the initial application may become outdated. In this case, you must update it with recent information. Under no circumstances can you lie to or mislead the housing offices.
Once your application is complete you can begin the next step of the process. But, first you must wait for the housing office to process your application. This can take around a month. Second, you confirm your waiting list status. Find out whether your application was rejected or waitlisted. The third step is estimating your wait time. Some families spend years stuck on the waitlist. During this process you should stay in contact with the housing office. Finally, you schedule and attend the eligibility interview.
After you fill out and submit your application there is nothing for you to do but wait while the PHA processes it. It can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months for the PHA to process a HUD housing application, depending on the number of applicants and the number of workers on staff. As a rule, PHAs work through online applications faster than they do paper applications. And housing offices that allow multiple methods of application submission have better productivity rates than those that only accept paper applications.
Also, the public notice sometimes has information on dates for result release next to the waitlist opening and closing dates.
The first step is figuring out whether you made it onto the waitlist. If you make it the PHA informs you in one of two ways. They mail you a letter. Or they ask you to access their online portal to receive your results. Normally only people who make it onto the waiting list are informed. And those rejected receive no letters. If you do not receive any mail from the housing authority it is safe to assume your application was denied.
Once you make it onto the waiting list your next concern becomes your position on the waiting list. Normally, your slot is based on the date and time of submission of application. The PHA may also allot spots at random.
If you have been allotted a spot of the waiting list there are certain things you need to make sure of. First, keep track of the offices you apply through and the officials you come in contact with. Second, keep all information related to your login credentials, passwords, confirmation number, slot allocation, etc safe and secure. You should have all the necessary documentation for every step of this process.
The majority of applicants who apply for Section 8 vouchers face rejection. If your application was denied chances are it was simply because of a lack of resources. There are a high number of applications. And the PHA’s resources are often spread thin. To simply matters, they reject all applications that arrive late or are incomplete.
Your application may be rejected because:
The housing authority will give you a reason for dismissal. If it was not because of ineligibility on your part you can always apply again.
How long you stay on the waiting list depends on a bunch of factors. Which housing office you apply through plays a big role. It takes longer to get off the waiting list in a larger metropolitan area. And shorter to get off the waiting list in a smaller rural area. Either way, you will likely spend at least a few years on the waiting list.
For more accurate estimates contact a representative from your PHA. A federal worker will generally have more information regarding the length of the waitlist. If that does not work try to get a hold of your PHA’s Annual Plan. This is a document that contains detailed information about the yearly number of waitlisted applicants. And also the housing office’s yearly turnover rate.
You can use this data to calculate an approximate waiting time. For example, there are a total of 1200 waitlisted households and the yearly turnover rate is around 200 families. Then it will take your PHA an approximate six years to work their way through the list. This becomes the maximum amount of time you can remain on that particular waiting list.
However, the housing office may not provide you with this information. Or they may give you the number of waitlisted households but not the turnover rate. In that case, you cannot estimate your waiting time. Additionally, this calculation leaves no room for other variables like fluctuating turnover rates and waiting list purges. So, it is not completely reliable.
You should continue checking your waitlist status every month. You can do this by visiting the housing office. Or by calling them. You can even use the online portal. The federal workers may not tell you your waitlist spot number. But they will confirm that you are still on the list.
Additionally, inform your caseworker of any changes in your contact information, household income, or number of household members. Respond to any mail or emails you receive from the housing department in a timely fashion. PHAs send notices asking households to confirm if they would like to retain their position on the waitlist. Not replying to such notices is equivalent to giving up your seat. Purging reduces applications.
The final step is attending the Section 8 housing eligibility interview. This happens when you make it to the top of the waiting list. Who attends the interview depends on the housing office. They can ask for the entire household, all adult members, or just the applicant. You are given a time and date and cannot be late. The Section 8 eligibility interview cannot be rescheduled. If your PHA is not in your area you will need to plan accordingly.
There are more applicants than housing vouchers available. And most people spend years stuck on the waiting list. This is why PHAs often only accept applications within a restricted time period. At times, when PHAs have too many applicants, they do not open their waiting lists. Luckily, you can apply for section 8 openings through numerous PHAs in multiple locations.
If you meet the HUD requirements you get a place on the waiting list. A lucky few receive help with housing immediately. When you slot on the waiting list is reached a PHA worker will call you. There is a range of eligibility criteria. But some Section 8 qualifications include the homeless, the involuntarily displaced and low-income families spending more than 50 percent of their household income on rent.
While there are eligibility criteria set by the HUD local housing authorities can prioritize certain groups. These selection preferences are based on local housing needs. For example, an area while a high homeless population may prioritize homeless applicants.
Section 8 housing vouchers do not cover your entire rent. You will have to contribute 30 percent of your household income. And the housing office will cover whatever amount of rent is left. However, if 30 percent of your gross income is less than $50, you will have to pay $50. This is the minimum contribution possible on your part. There is also a higher bar, i.e. the maximum amount the PHA will meet called the payment standard.
This maximum amount is not a fixed number. It is dependent on your monthly income. There are two ways of calculating this. You either subtract the payment standard from 30 percent of your monthly household income. Or you subtract the monthly rent amount from 30 percent of your household’s monthly income. You can use whichever amount is lower.
The payment standard is the rental price for a moderately-priced living space. This amount varies from area to area. You can pick a house that is more than or less than your payment standard. If you go above the payment standard you must pay the difference in amount. That said you can only contribute between 30 to 40 percent of your household’s monthly income.
The minimum amount you must contribute is either $50 or 30 percent of your monthly household income. The maximum you can contribute is 40 percent of your monthly household income. The payment standard is the set average price of living space in an area. If your chosen house exceeds the payment standard you can pay the difference, provided you are still below the 40 percent mark overall.
Since living space is not allocated by the government you are solely responsible for finding an appropriate house or apartment. There are certain limitations set by the section 8 office. Your PHA will inform you more about these requirements beforehand.
You are not responsible for collecting or paying any amount on behalf of the Department of Housing and Development. A PHA worker will contact your landlord directly and discuss all the relevant details. You are only responsible for paying your landlord a pre-calculated amount.
Once you receive your voucher you must find an appropriate property. Several rules and regulations govern this property selection. The first step is to inform yourselves of where you can use a Section 8 voucher. And the second step is to inform yourselves or where you cannot use a Section 8 voucher. These limitations are important. Third, you must figure out how to find a unit keeping these limitations in mind. And finally, you need to know the HCV porting policy.
There are three main standards that you must meet when selecting a property.
As previously mentioned ‘payment standards’ are important to uphold. This is the upper limit of your Section 8 voucher. Once you calculate your payment standard try to find a property that costs less than this amount. You can contact your housing office for information about your payment standard. Or visit the PHA website.
Meeting the inspection standards is the next step. You cannot move into the property until a HUD inspector checks it. While you cannot exceed the maximum amount the PHA will also not allow you to live in a space that does not meet basic living standards.
This means the inspector will check for structural damage, mold, weakened foundations, contaminants, and animal infestations.
Some counties and states have laws to defend the rights of voucher holders. Under these laws, it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants that hold housing vouchers by denying them living space. However many areas do not have such laws. Anď people living in these areas must ensure that their landlord accepts vouchers beforehand.
There are certain categories of homes that are available to you. These include:
Or units that fall under the following categories but do not have attached Rental Assistance subsidies. More on that later.
There are certain places where you cannot use a Section 8 voucher to pay for housing. These include:
The following steps will help you find a place to live that fits all of the above-mentioned requirements. First, visit the Affordable Housing website. You can plug in your specific data to find available units in your area.
A fundamental part of what makes the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher special is its portability. If you move from one state to another you can simply transfer to a different PHA. Your housing voucher will not be affected.
That said there are certain restrictions. You must stay in a certain area for at least a year before you can port out. This is the area where you first get your housing voucher. Another factor that comes into play is the PHA from where you apply for a housing voucher.
If you live in the area from where you first applied for a voucher you can choose to port out whenever you want. But if you do not live in the area from where you first applied for a voucher you are bound to stay there for at least a year.
For example, if you live in Florida, and apply for a housing voucher through the Section 8 Florida PHA, you can choose to port out any time after receiving your voucher. But, if you live in Florida, and apply for a housing voucher through the Section 8 NYC PHA, you must live in New York for a minimum of 12 months before you will be allowed to port out. So choose your waiting list application carefully.
If you are shifting from one state to another you need to keep certain things in mind. The Section 8 Housing choice voucher income qualifications differ from area to area. Just because you were eligible for housing assistance in one area does not mean you will also be eligible in another. You need to figure out the income limits beforehand. You can only port to a place if you meet the new requirements.
Even though the US Department of Housing and Development is responsible for the Section 8 housing program, the HUD does not govern porting policy. That is left up to the individual PHAs. To actually begin the porting process you first contact your current PHA and then the PHA for the area you wish to move to.
Your new PHA must either ‘absorb’ or ‘bill’ your voucher. Absorbing is when your vouchers are completely transferred over to your new housing authority. Alternatively, billing is when you move into your new apartment, but your previous PHA is still paying your rent.
Other expenses to consider include traveling costs, utility bills, rental deposit, and your current lease. You should make a complete plan before you start shifting. How are you going to move? When do you register your children for school? Where will you find a job? Who will take care of the children while you work? Do not move without thinking through all these various problems.
Once you are approved for housing assistance and move off the waitlist there are certain obligations you take on. After you pick an apartment and the PHA approves it you sign a one-year lease agreement with your landlord. You will need to pay a security deposit at this point. And when your lease ends you can sign another contract or remain on a monthly payment basis.
Signing the lease agreement means following whatever rules have been set by your landlord. You should also pay your rent on time and not damage any property. Moreover, inform the PHA if your income status or household size changes. Engaging in criminal activity, violent behavior, drug abuse, fraud or bribery will get your housing voucher disqualified.
If you belong to a low-income household and cannot afford to pay your rent you can qualify for low-income housing. The Section 8 Housing Choice low-income housing application is one such program. The HCV program is one of the biggest federally funded financial assistance programs. The Department of Housing and Development runs this program.
As part of this program, poor households can use vouchers to pay for housing. There is no particular housing complex or area associated with this program. Recipients must find a living space themselves. The area need only meet the minimum standards to pass the approval of the HUD official. The HCV programs help lift millions from poverty. These vouchers reduce homelessness and suffering as families move to less violent, middle-class areas.
Moreover, research shows that housing assistance programs greatly benefit children by improving their health and well-being. Also, funding housing programs results in lower costs for education and health related programs.
To conclude, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are a HUD program. PHAs or public housing agencies run the local programs. The household size and overall household income determine eligibility. Additionally, only US citizens or immigrants with eligible immigrant status may apply.
The housing choice voucher program benefits a lot of people. Some demographics they cater to include low-income families, homeless persons, elderly citizens, and disabled persons. Basically, any people who cannot work or pay for a safe, clean living space.
However, the voucher is not easy to get. And many applicants are rejected. Federal criteria involve restrictions on overall household income and household size. Determining eligibility is a complicated process. The limits vary from state to state. And there are a lot of variables that come into play.
There is no way for you to know for certain whether you will qualify when you are applying. Additionally, the PHA you apply to will determine your eligibility. And different housing authorities judge cases differently. Different areas even have different income limits.
States with a higher demand and more property value are harder to get vouchers in. Moreover, the income limits are defined based on the average rent in the area.
There is a list of criteria you must meet if you want a Section 8 voucher. Without these requirements, your application will not be considered. For example:
To qualify for government housing programs you need to be a US citizen. Or have legal immigration status. You must provide documentation to support your citizenship claim.
Since the Section 8 housing voucher specifically caters to low-income citizens your monthly income must be less than 50 percent of the AMI, Area Median Income, to qualify for housing assistance. Check the statistics for the area you are applying to. You can find this information by contacting the local authorities. A resident of California will visit the California housing authority office, or look at their website.
Additionally, three-fourths of the housing vouchers are allocated to families earning less than 30 percent of the AMI, Area Median Income. The AMI for different counties and states varies. So, make sure all your calculations are using the right numbers.
For example, these are certain limits for four people households for major states, given by the local authorities.
The median income limit for New Jersey is $88,900, which makes the 50 percent income limit $44,450, and the 30 percent limit of $26,670.
The Section 8 housing California income limits are based on a median income of $69,700. This means that the 50 percent income limit is $34,850, and the 30 percent limit is $20,910.
According to the Florida housing authority, Florida’s median income is $57,700, which makes the 50 percent income limit $28,850 and the 30 percent limit of $17,310.
The Section 8 housing MA limits work off of an AMI of $87,300. Giving a 50 percent limit of $43,750 and a 30 percent limit of $26,190.
Section 8 housing NYC 50 percent limit is $36,000 using the median income of $72,000. And the 30 percent limit is $21,600.
When you are applying for Section 8 you have to keep your application updated. All changes in income status or family size must be reported. Otherwise, you lose your voucher. Your property lease lists the names of all the members of your household. Your landlord and your designated PHA worker will discuss this list in detail. You cannot add members that are not your relations by blood or by the legal process of adoption.
The HUD or the Department of Housing and Development is responsible for giving out housing choice vouchers. But, what are Housing Choice Vouchers, how are they different from other vouchers, and how do they work?
As the name implies Housing Choice Vouchers give applicants the freedom to choose where they want to live. You can browse through the possibilities available to you before making a decision. This allows you to pick the unit best suited to your needs. Unlike with other schemes you are not confined to fixed areas. Or allocated rooms in specific buildings. So, don’t worry about being stuck in a dangerous or run-down area.
All you need to do is find a space within your budget. Moreover, your housing choice voucher is also not restricted to state. So, if you want to move you can take it anywhere you want. Your PHA will change through a simple process. But the benefits remain the same.
When you select a living space make sure it is in good condition and has a suitable amount of space with regards to the number of people in your household. Also, take a look at the health and safety regulations set by the HUD. After you select and finalize your property an inspector will come to look at it. If it meets all the conditions it will be approved.
What do we mean by budget? As we previously discussed the payment standard is the maximum amount of money the PHA will contribute. It is based on the average rental cost of living space in your area. By no means is it a fixed number. Mostly you may use it as a rough estimate or ballpark amount for where you should aim.
Once you have this estimate you can go below it if you find a good deal on a suitable space. Or, you can go above it and pay the difference. In any case, you will pay 30 percent of the rent. But, if you go above the payment standard you will pay the excess amount as well. Even if you choose to go above the payment standard there is only so far you can go. Because the maximum percent of the rent you can contribute while receiving a housing choice voucher is 40 percent.
A common question we get from people is on how to get section 8 immediately? Or how to get low-income housing fast? And there is no simple answer to these questions. There is no miracle route you can take to get ahead of the line. Because of how the system works if you apply for a housing choice voucher you will be placed on a waiting list. And since state resources are so sparse you will have to wait at least a few years before you make your way up the list.
It is not always a matter of eligibility. Often the PHA will have a hundred eligible and deserving candidates but only 50 seats. Other times they may have only 25 seats. More often than not it is a matter of luck whether or not you get your name in that 25. Additionally, some cases are deemed more deserving than others. So, if there are only 25 seats out of a hundred eligible candidates then the vouchers will likely go to the neediest applicants, i.e. people making even less than 30 percent of the area median income. There are also other factors that raise certain people above others.
Some demographics are considered more deserving than others based on criteria that have nothing to do with income. For example, people who:
None of these are set categories. There are no HUD rules that allow or encourage selection on this basis. But local PHAs have a lot of leeway in who they give housing choice vouchers too. And patterns from different areas show that these groups get preferential treatment.
In other cases, the PHA lists their preferences on the application, the website, or the official notice. Also known as preference eligibility. Sometimes waiting lists will open that are specific to certain categories like the homeless or the disabled. If you receive a spot based on preference eligibility, your eligibility is reexamined when your case is being reviewed. If the PHA thinks you no longer classify for that preference you do not receive a voucher.
Waiting lists open and close at different times. And different states have their own policies. Some waiting lists remain open year-round. These types of waiting lists accept rolling applications, so you can apply whenever you feel the need. Other lists are only open for specific periods. These periods are defined by the PHA on their official notice. And you must follow these restrictions diligently.
If a list of this sort says that applications will only be accepted till so and so time on so and so date, being even a minute late will get your application automatically disqualified. A huge part of applying for housing section 8 vouchers is staying on top of deadlines. You cannot be lax in replying to official correspondence or keeping up with document submissions.
Waiting lists open and close according to set times. Or when they become too full. If there are too many applicants on a particular waiting list the local PHA might choose to close it. Alternatively, they could not open it in the first place. PHAs cannot allow waiting lists to grow uncontrollably and may occasionally purge their lists.
This is when they remove applicants from the list in an effort to empty it. It may happen once a year. They will contact you to confirm whether or not you want to retain your seat on the list. If you do not respond they will remove you.
By this point, you may be thinking that all this sounds like a lot of hassle. And you would be right. Applying for Section 8 homes is a lot of work. And if you’re going to do it you need to be suitably motivated. So why should you apply for HUD assistance? Well, applying for Section 8 benefits can mean a lot more than assistance paying your rent.
Sometimes low-income families take advantage of the Section 8 housing assistance program to purchase property. They want to stop paying rent on their living space. And instead, mortgage it so they can eventually claim ownership. This is a really smart idea that makes use of the Section 8 Homeownership Vouchers.
The Section 8 Homeownership vouchers are an extension of the Section 8 housing choice vouchers we have been discussing thus far. And in order to get the homeownership voucher, you need to already have the housing choice voucher. This way the financial assistance from the housing choice voucher gets forwarded to the bank in the form of mortgage payments.
What this means is that you need to start thinking about your future today. If you want a better future for yourself and your family you need to start thinking about 10 or 20 years down the line. Apply for a housing choice voucher today. Yes, you will spend a few years on the waiting list. But, eventually, 5-8 years down the line your application will go through. After which you can apply for the homeownership voucher and start making mortgage payments. Eventually, you can work your way into property ownership and financial security.
If you want to receive a homeownership voucher there are certain requirements you must meet. For example, you must:
Neither you nor any of the other members of your household can have held property ownership in order for you to receive a homeownership voucher. If you currently or previously owned property you will not qualify. If any of the other members of your household currently or previously owned property you will not qualify.
You must earn more than 2000 times the hourly minimum wage to qualify for this Section 8 program.
If you want to get a homeownership voucher you need to show your ability to make mortgage payments. And you must submit proof of employment for at least a year prior. For increased chances, it is better if at least one or more of the other members of your household also have stable employment and continuous income streams.
Your local PHA may have additional Section 8 housing requirements that you will be required to meet.
Attendance to the PHA Section eight homeownership counseling program is mandatory for all applicants.
Applying for homeownership is not a cheap or expense less operation. As an applicant, you need to be aware of certain mandatory expenses you will have to pay. These include:
The maximum length of time a household can get homeownership assistance from the Department of Housing and Development is 15 years. However, this limit is nullified for households with elderly members or members with disabilities. They do not need to work within a time limit.
As defined by Section 8 housing authority, a family or household can refer to several groups of people and is not restricted by certain general restrictions. For example:
A family may or may not have children. Your household doesn’t need to have a child to qualify as a family. If you have a child in foster care said the child is considered a part of the household.
You do not need to have an elderly person in the home to be considered a family. However, having an elderly household member can give you certain benefits, as previously discussed. Anyone above the age of 62 is considered elderly. One or more members of the household can be older than 62.
Any family with one or more disabled household member is a disabled family, according to HUD requirements. It can also mean a disabled person living with an aid.
Displacement or displaced persons refers to people who are forced to move from their homes due to circumstances out of their control. This can be because of government action or natural disaster.
A single person is also considered a family for the purposes of voucher reception.
You can find out more information regarding your particular case by visiting the website. All details and forms are generally available. And you can fill out a Section 8 application online.
To apply for a housing choice voucher you must either be a US citizen or hold eligible immigration status. All household members that fall under these categories are counted. And their income contributes to the gross household income amount if they are above the age of 18.
How to get Section 8 assistance NOW
Even if you apply for Section 8 online you will still need to submit certain documents with your application. So, if you’re confused about how to apply for housing just work your way through this list.
You must provide all of the above-mentioned information for every member of your household. Submit all relevant documents to your local PHA. At the time of application, your PHA worker will compile information regarding gross household income and assets. And will then work towards verifying this information through the sources and documents you supply.
A common question among applicants is how to find housing. You can pick an apartment or house depending on your needs and family size. You can even continue living at your current residence once you start receiving housing benefits. The PHA will simply start shouldering some of the rent. But, if this is not possible and you need to search for a new place from scratch there are certain points you need to take note of.
There are 14 points you need to cover to meet the HUD requirements and get your PHA worker’s approval.
The living space must live up to a minimum standard of cleanliness. There cannot be moss or fungus.
Sanitation and draining is an essential part of picking an apartment.
Minimum security requirements demand there be smoke detectors in any house you rent.
Food preparation area
There should be a kitchen to prepare food in.
Some security features should be present like locks on doors and grills on windows.
Heating is essential in cold areas.
The living space must fit the number of people in your household.
There should be a working electricity supply.
Your foundation cannot have structural damage. That is a risk to your health and wellbeing.
The air quality inside the apartment must be good, as in, there must be suitable ventilation
Water for cleaning and cooking should be available.
Area and neighborhood
You cannot live in a dangerous or overly run-down area.
The area should be easily accessible and have public transportation nearby.
The paint cannot be lead-based because lead-based paint is poisonous.
When: You can use your voucher for a minimum of 60 days after you receive it.
Why: You can use your voucher to pay your rent in your current living space or in a new one.
How: Your PHA official will pay your landlord the owed amount directly while you pay the rest.
Once you receive PHA approval you sign a year-long lease with your landlord. And your local housing authority also signs an agreement with your landlord. This means all three parties are bound for at least a year. And as such all three parties must uphold their roles and obligations to keep the system running smoothly.
What are your obligations as a tenant? As a tenant, you will sign a one-year lease and submit a security deposit to your landlord. This deposit is the equivalent of a month’s rent. After the contract ends you can renew it if you wish to remain in the same place. Or you can move to a new apartment. As a good tenant, you should pay your rent on time, follow the terms of the lease agreement, and maintain the upkeep of the home.
You should also inform your local housing authority of any changes in household size or income. Additionally, if you engage in any illegal activity such as drug usage or distribution, fraud, violent crime, bribery, etc your vouchers will be canceled immediately. And you will face legal action.
It is a landlord’s obligation to provide their tenants with a clean, safe place to live. They should charge a reasonable rent and take responsibility for upkeep and maintenance to the property. They must also follow all agreements they make including those to their tenants and the housing authority.
The PHA must continue making payments to the landlord as part of their agreement unless the landlord breaks the terms of the agreement. The PHA also inspects the living space before approving it. And does yearly checks if the applicant chooses to stay in the same apartment.
The HUD is ultimately responsible for the housing assistance programs. They oversee all processes and ensure rules are being followed. They reimburse the local PHAs for a portion of the fee the PHA pays the landlord. Moreover, the PHA can request the HUD for an increase in vouchers when funding becomes available.
Since different PHAs have different requirements you should check out the requirements for the PHA in your area. You can do that by visiting their website.
District of Columbia
Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islands