Resources

There are a few things that will disqualify you from the section 8 program. These factors include a criminal record in your past, poor rental history, poor unit upkeep, and abuse of the program. You can also lose your Section 8 voucher for a variety of reasons and we’ll go over it more in this article. To qualify for section 8, you’ll have to be making less than 50% of your Area’s median income (AMI). You can go to this page and see where your income bracket lies for your city.

It’s important to note that each case is considered individually at the local HUD level so make sure to call them if you have any questions. The housing authority can identify one person and ask you to remove them from the household to continue to get the voucher.

Criminal History

If you are convicted of a crime you’ll be disqualified from section 8 and will lose your voucher if you’re already on the program. Most housing authorities set their own regulations for what criminal activity can be a reason for disqualification. Some examples of criminal activity that will most likely get you disqualified are drug activity, violent criminal activity, sexual assault, and domestic abuse.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse there are protections in place that’ll help you keep your voucher while removing the abuser.

Poor Rental History

If you have a poor rental history you may be disqualified for the section 8 program but this isn’t always a hard rule that HUD offices go by. This is written in law under the Obligations of Participants. Certain cities also have a responsibility agreement sent out to each person who receives the voucher, here’s an example. If you click on it you can see different points of agreement like:

  • I will get written approval before someone moves in with me
  • I understand the lease is a contract between the owner and myself and I will follow the rules of the lease
  • I can be terminated from Section 8 for violations of the lease
  • I must obtain approval from Section 8 and the landlord before I move

These rules don’t apply to every municipality but it’s a great resource to get an idea of you’re responsible if you’re taking advantage of the program. Once you sign the document, a copy will be shared with your landlord.

If you get an eviction notice, you are required to inform your local office about it. We all know evictions can happen for many reasons and it’s not always the fault of the tenant so as long as you’re letting your local office know about things like this and paying for your rent on time, you should be okay.

However, if you’re eviction notice is because of lease violations, you may be at risk. It’s important to always read your lease thoroughly and work with your landlord on any issues that may come up. Your landlord may report this to the HUD or may send over an eviction notice.

It’s also important to note that you must let the housing authority know before you plan to move into a unit and before you let the landlord know. Failure to do so can put your voucher at risk.

Abusing the Section 8 program

With all government programs, you can always expect a small margin of people to abuse the program or not follow the proper regulations. Many people lose their vouchers because they don’t provide the proper information to their local housing authority office or they allow people to live within their unit without reporting it.

The reason you’re not allowed to have additional people live with you for an extended period of time is that the HUD has to maintain certain quality standards to prevent overcrowing. The addition of new residents can also lead to an increase in household income. Changes like this have to be reported to ensure that you’re receiving the proper amount of assistance. As a reminder you’re still required to pay 30% of your household income towards your rent and the HUD will give you a voucher for the rest.

There are also legal implications to abusing the section 8 program. You’ll have a hearing where you’ll be able to present evidence and provide more information about your situation. If it’s a drug or alcohol issue, rehabilitation efforts can be shown to improve your case.

As always, we always recommend reaching out to your local housing authority office to see if you qualify for the Section 8 program.

The Reform Act of 1986 established the low-income housing tax credit. The act provided a total of $8 billion in tax credits to property owners who rented apartments at lower costs compared to the current market rates. The program is distributed by the state and local agencies. This allows property owners to make back some of the money they would’ve made if they rented at a higher price. It also provides lower-income tenants with affordable housing.

Providing the largest source in affordable housing, the low-income housing tax credit is responsible for over 3 million housing units since its inception in 1986. They continue to subsidize over 100,000 every year now spanning 1,500 projects. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation act of 1993 officially made the tax credit permanent. Before then it was at risk because it required a three-year review from congress to renew each time.

We all know the 2007-2008 financial had a critical impact on housing marketing. It also impacted the applications for the tax credit. Since property owners were making less and incomes were dropping, most organizations didn’t need the tax credit because they weren’t bringing in much income. The applications for LIHTC dropped dramatically.

In 2009 the LIHTC saw new changes with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Congress needed to find a way to continue to provide housing and new developments for lower-income families but they were struggling to provide funding since investors like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could no longer contribute. They allowed developers to transfer their remaining tax credits for project funding. They would pay $0.85 for every dollar in tax credit and this was available for current units where they struggled to find funding. The federal government also included grants to the low-income housing tax credit program to continue the work they’ve been providing.

How does the low income housing tax credit work?

It’s important to note again that the tax credit is provided to the landowners and not the tenants. The tax credits were to be used by the property owner to subsidize new developments or the renovation of older buildings for lower-income households. The credits cannot be refunded but they are able to be transferred. If the property owner decides to sell the unit they’re able to transfer the tax credits to the new owners.

There are three main players in providing the tax credit:

  • Housing Finance Authorities (HFA)- provides guidelines for new projects and reviews applications
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)- Divides budget for the income housing tax credit by state
  • Housing and Urban Developement (HUD)- Works on analyzing the nation wide housing market and income levels to identify affordability in different areas

These credits are provided by the IRS and the HFA with guidance from the HUD on income levels and affordability in each state or city. The IRS will divide a budget of $8 billion to each state depending on the population and need. This budget has also increased over the years to combat inflation. Once the HUD and IRS identify affordability and divide the budget between the states, the HFA establishes requirements for the application to receive the tax credit.

The developer will apply for the tax credit and submit it to the HFA. The HFA will review each application to ensure it meets its minimum requirements. Once the application is approved, the project had to be completed and the building in service before the developers could get the tax credit. The HFA will monitor the new units for years and can take away the tax credit if there are any violations by reporting it to the IRS.

Here are a few of the qualifications for the property owners:

  • The unit has to be less then 30% of the tenents adjusted gross income (AGI)
  • 20% of all units in a project are reserved for tenants withh an Area Medium Income (AMI) bellow 50% OR 40% of units reserved for tenants bellow 60% fo the AMI

The property must meet these qualifications for 30 years. The first 15 years they’re closely monitored by the HFA and IRS but they can stop reporting directly to them after that and they are no longer at risk of losing their credits.

Do I qualify for the low income housing tax credit program?

There are a few basic requirements for this program. You can apply to any unit anywhere in the United States which allows you to take advantage of the program without any resident waiting periods. You can take advantage of the program regardless of your citizenship status. This means people with green cards and visas also apply. You are also able to apply even if you’re in a single household which opens up this program to a wider group of people.

Aside from the basic requirements, there are also income eligibility restrictions. Each city has its own affordability index and the general rule they follow is you have to make less than 60% of the AMI to qualify for this assistance. You can look up your local income limits here. It’s important to note that the AMI will increase as the household size increases. They do not look at other expenses when considering candidates for the low-income units.

You can be restricted from this program if you don’t have the best history. This can be on your rental or credit report but these decisions are made on the property level. It’s also much harder for people with a criminal record to get approved for a unit regardless of whether they qualify. If you’ve been convicted of a drug charge in the last three years, you will be denied from the program.

How do I find low-income housing in my area?

We always recommend reaching out to your local Housing and Urban Development Office to see properties in your area that are reserved for lower-income households. Your city should also have an online directory where you can browse properties that are considered affordable units.

Once you find a unit, you’ll have to submit an application. Some people have reported it can take anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks to see if you’re approved. We always recommend doing it online so you can keep records of everything and it’s easier for the people reviewing the application. Some cities have waitlists and fewer resources so it’s harder for them to keep up with demand. If you decide to join a waitlist, it’s critical you take notes of everything because the waitlists can be so long. You can ask the person you submit your application to or the manager of the property for an estimated time, usually anywhere from months to a year. You’re able to stay in the low-income unit regardless of how much your income increases.

San Francisco is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. Once a cultural melting pot, it’s now the tech mecca with engineers in Patagonia vests and new developments covering the entire bay. Although the new business has provided a boost to the economy, it’s having lasting impacts on the city culture and its infrastructure.

Like most markets, San Francisco’s housing prices are dependent on the levels of supply, number of houses available for rent, and demand the number of people looking to rent. San Francisco’s market has limited supply because of zoning laws limiting growth in housing but increased demand because of the new investments in big tech and influx of young affluent professionals.

San Francisco

San Francisco is known as a cultural melting pot of the United States. This was because of the diverse history it has and the different groups of people it’s attracted over the years. It was a huge part of the gold rush which drove people from the east with the hopes of new opportunities. This is when the city saw its first major population growth with over a 2,000% increase in just one year (1848- 1849). It was also home to the hippie and gay rights movement. These moments remain a part of the city as it’s considered one of the most liberal in the world.

Since the gold rush boom, San Francisco is facing another influx of people seeking to see better opportunities. This second rush can be attributed to the increased amount of big tech companies bringing in skilled labor with a need for housing. San Francisco has entered a new era that’s completely changed the city’s skyline and culture. 

Zoning Laws

The first zoning laws were passed in San Francisco in 1921. The new plan divided the city into different zones based on their primary use, residential, industrial, and commercial. It also included an unrestricted district. In 1938 they allowed exceptions to the zone regulation for things like adding a gas station in a residential area.

Zoning laws were starting to gain popularity in San Francisco in the 1960s with the introduction of the City Planning Code. These laws were set up to maintain the quality of urban neighborhoods as they grow. One of the main objectives of the zoning laws is to prevent the over-crowding of people and buildings. You can find a properties zoning code on the city planning website. Zoneomics also provides a website that shows you the zones of different general areas. You can find it here.

These zoning laws divided San Francisco into different districts similar to the ones passed in 1921 diving districts into, residential, commercial, and industrial. They implemented strict density limits ability to add additional buildings to an existing lot. Developers were no longer allowed to build townhomes and duplexes in areas that were set aside for single-family homes. Townhomes and single-family homes allow for more people to live on a limited parcel. Since only 200,000 parcels exist in the city, the ability to optimize the number of people while still providing a good quality of life for everyone in the city is critical.

Big Tech Invasion

There’s no doubt that San Francisco and Silicon Valley is considered one of the innovation and technological capital of the world. However it didn’t start with the big tech people are familiar with today like Facebook, Google, and Apple. It started with Fairchild Semiconductor (founded 1956) and Hewlett Packard (founded 1939), who were two of the first major tech companies in San Francisco. After that organizations like Cisco moved there to get access to the resources established by their predecessors.

Now we have every major tech company headquartered in the bay. Even though both cities are notoriously expensive, it gives organizations access to capital and investors who work exclusively in tech. With the introduction of a few major big tech companies, others flooded in because it offered a substantial amount of resources available.

Impacts of Gentrification in San Fransico

San Francisco is the second-most densely populated city in the United States. Infusion of new money is pushing local residents out. As people purchase homes to rent out because of the boom in young professionals, they drive out the ones who have been living there for their entire lives. It’s the people who are not homeowners, who are impacted by increased rents. The people at the most risk are considered lower income.

Francisco has one of the highest levels of wealth disparity in the country. Income inequality happens all over the world but San Fransico has increased the most since 2007, correlating with the big tech boom. You can see in the chart below that the bottom 20th percentile lost wealth while the top 95th percentile wealth has increased more than any other city in the United States.

One of the best parts of San Francisco has been its art. Driving through the streets you’ll see beautiful street murals that show the history and struggle of its longest residents. As these residents are no longer able to live in these neighborhoods, the art goes too and San Francisco will inevitably lose its original charm.  

Rental prices in San Francisco have increased over the last years and lower-income and less-skilled workers can no longer live there after the tech boom. On top of that, as the cost of goods increases because incomes have increased and the demand to cater to a new demographic, the locals can no longer find good affordable restaurants and entertainment.

Ellis Act Evictions

When a landlord decides to exit the rental market, they’re allowed to evict tenants regardless of any rent control laws. Within the first year of ownership, they can go out of the rental business and evict the tenants at no fault of their own. This law was passed in 1985 as a response to Nash v City of Santa Monica which allowed cities to try to intervine when tenents would like to stop renting their properties. These are commonly done in rent-controlled areas to get a new market value for the property. 

This is a California state law and not just something that exists in San Francisco. Los Angeles also sees a substantial amount of Ellis Act Evictions. Most of the time if you’re on the receiving end of an Ellis Act eviction, the landlord will be required to provide some compensation for relocation.

How Housing in San Francisco is Improving…

With the pandemic, people are leaving the city because they are no longer required to stay there to work at these larger tech companies. This means there may be a decrease in population density and a better quality of life.

We can’t say exactly what will happen to the city but there are resources for low-income households to help combat the cost of inflated rental prices. Click here to find your local Department of Housing and Urban Development office. We can say that the market is built on supply and demand so to get lower rent prices, people have to leave or more housing has to be introduced.

For people who are not familiar, section 8 housing and affordable housing are programs provided by the government to combat increased property and rent costs. As rental increases and inflation sweeps the nation, people are finding it harder to find affordable units in urban areas. The government has provided a substantial amount of assistance for people in all income brackets and locations to combat this issue.

We’ll go over both sections and affordable housing so you can understand the difference and the proper program for your situation. We’ll also go over rent control and the different types in different areas.

What is Section 8?

Section 8 provides rental-based assistance to families with low income. This assistance comes in a form of a voucher and it’ll be for the value of part of the rent. This voucher can be used for any rental property that accepts it and in some states, renters must accept it.

Tenants are still responsible to pay for 30% of their income towards rent and the voucher will pay for the remaining amount. Once you get your voucher, you’ll need to look for an apartment. Both these programs focus on the 30% because it’s an income standard set by the government reflecting how much you can pay for rent while considering other necessitates.

The 30% benchmark was established by one of the writers of the Civil Rights Act in 1968, Edward Brooke. It started at 25% but increase to 30% in 1981. This metric has stayed with us for years and is a part of a lot of rental assistance programs.

What is affordable housing?

Affordable housing includes Privately Owned Subsidized Housing where the government provides homeowners with credits for renting to lower-income families.

The goal is to ensure that no more than 30% of a resident’s income is being paid towards rent so they have money for other necessitates. These units are always in high demand because it’s difficult to get developers to produce these buildings and people in both urban areas and cities need it.

Affordable housing helps provide affordable rental options in a certain area. These communities also provide apartments at the standard rate depending on where the market is at and this ensures people with any income can take advantage of this assistance.

It’s important to note that some low-income families won’t qualify because they won’t be able to pay rent even when it’s subsidized. The cost of the units is usually dependent on the Area Median income. The government provides developers tax credits for producing these apartments. These credits continue as long as they continue to maintain these affordable units.

What is the difference between section 8 and affordable housing?

The main difference between section 8 and affordable housing is how the assistance is provided. Section 8 is specifically for project-based rental assistance for a certain income group depending on your location. On the other hand, affordable housing is able to provide assistance in the form of affordable rental options to people from different income levels.

With section 8 you can choose the apartment and community and affordable housing is set aside communities, buildings, and units that qualify. Your eligibility is dependent on where you fall compared to the AMI. Families making less than 30% of the local AMI will need section 8 housing since they would be considered very low income, while anyone earning around 60% of the local AMI would probably go for affordable housing. Families making 80% of the AMI struggle to get into either one of these programs since demand is so high. They’ll spend a while on the waitlist and should consider rent control options, if available. Always consult with your local HUD office to see which program is best for you.

However, it’s important to note that the waitlist for affordable housing is usually less than the section 8 program. If you have to go through section 8, make sure you apply for a few so you have a higher chance of getting in quicker.

What is rent control?

Another housing program that’s available is rent control. This is a great option for people who don’t qualify for either of the programs mentioned above or they’re on a waitlist. These laws change depending on where you’re in and it helps set a limit on rent prices and year-over-year increases.

In some cities, you’ll have to live in a unit for a while before you get the benefits since it might be just preventing a large year-over-year increase.

New York’s rental control laws have been running since 1943 and used to be much more strict. It’s usually set in place for cities are extremely expensive or are growing too quickly. Rent control means that a tenant must be living in that unit since 1971, the rent can increase year over year but can’t go over the max rate set by the local government. These units are rare and once they’re lost they switch to rent-stabilized. Rent stabilized means they just have annual rent increases.

There are two types of rent control:

  • Vacancy Control- the rent of a unit can only be increased a certain amount every year regardless who the tenant is.
  • Vacancy Decontrol– the rent of a unit is controlled as for each tenant, for example if someone moves out and the landlord is looking for a new tenant the rent can be increased to market rates. Once the lease is signed, the landed lord is limited in how much he can increase rent for that specific tenant.

The Vacancy Control option is the best option for renters since the increase in rent has been stabilized for years now. Some states have set up rent control laws state-wide with a maximum 7% increase and adjusting for inflation.

You’ve gone through the application process and you’ve finally been approved for Section 8, congratulations! I know it’s probably been a long road with a substantial amount of paperwork. The program is notorious for long waitlists and very little funding. The process in some cities can take anywhere from 5-12 years!

Step 1: Understand State and City Laws

Before you start using your voucher, you need to understand the laws regarding the usage of your voucher. Since section 8 is administered through your local offices, it’s important to understand your State and City Laws. For example, in California, Gavin Newsom recently signed a law prohibiting landlords from discriminating against renters who are using a voucher.

Even though each state has its own laws, there are a few federal laws each tenant must abide by. These include:

  • Live in the Unit with approved household members– The unit you’re using your voucher on must be the only unit you reside in. It’s also important that the only people that live in that unit are listed on the lease.
  • Follow the Least Agreement– If you violate your lease agreement you could lose your section 8 voucher. It’s critical that you read and understand your lease agreement and make sure you follow all the rules that apply. If the landlord breaks the lease, then the HUD may terminate it for you and you’ll be able to move without losing your beneifits.
  • Report changes in income and household size- You must report any changes to your income to your local office within 10 days of the change. When you do this, make sure you keep a timestamp of when you’ve reported this change and submit it in writing for your reference.
  • No long-term guest– Since there are already two people per bedroom to ensure there’s no overcrowding, you’re not allowed to have any long-term guests at your unit. A long-term guest is anyone who is staying for longer than 14 days.
  • No illegal Activity or Drug Violations– You could lose your section 8 voucher if you’re convicted of illegal activity. This includes any drug violations as well.
  • Housing Authority Inspections– The Housing Authority Department will inspect your property before you move in and while you’re living in the unit. They’re inspecting to ensure certain health and safety requirements are being met.

Failure to to follow any of these results will result in an overpayment or termination of your voucher. The landlord also has the ability to deny anyone in your household based on a few factors. You’re also required to reside in your first unit for 12 consistent months. If you move before then, you may lose your voucher. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, you should find a safe space first and then reach out to your local housing authority office.

Step 2: Establish a Budget

Now that you have your voucher and you are familiar with your local laws, you can finally start to create a rental budget. You’ll always be responsible to pay 30% of your income towards rent and the section 8 voucher will cover the rest. For example, you can be earning $1000 a month and your rent is $750. You will be responsible for $300 and your voucher will cover the additional $450. This is just the first part of establishing a rental budget. You can’t put a family of 5 into a 1 bedroom unit for $750.

The next step to understanding the rent you’re able to afford is looking at how family size impacts the size of the unit you can rent. The number of beds you are approved for depends on your family size. You can see that a family of 7 would be in a 4-bedroom unit while a family of 8 could find a 4-5 bedroom unit because it is the minimum for one and the maximum for the 4 bedrooms. The general rule is two people per bedroom, regardless of age and gender set by the US Department of Housing and Urban development. However, they can make exceptions for people with disabilities or anyone needing special assistance. Please contact your local office about your specific eligibility and let them know if you have any special requirements.

Your local office will also consider the size of the rooms when approving the number of bedrooms per person. If you need an additional room beyond the “two people per room rule,” you’ll need to have a case of overcrowding. They also provide exceptions in certain cases where an additional room is required, however, housing authorities have been a lot tougher on this rule recently. Some examples of specific eligibility that could allow you to get an extra bedroom include:

  • One household member is pregnant
  • Live-in nurse or aid for another household member
  • Elderly or disabled household members
  • Children who are temporarily away
  • Substantial age gap or unrelated household member

If your situation changes and your household size grows, you’ll be able to reapply for a larger unit. For example, if you have a child or someone in your family develops a health condition or disability, you might be eligible for a larger unit to accommodate your new needs. It’s important to note that in order to get approved for a larger unit, you’ll need to provide the appropriate paperwork and your local office will be able to review it. It’s critical these changes are reported at the latest, 10 days after they happen.

Step 3: Find Section 8 Housing

Now that you know how much you can afford, you can now start to look for a unit for your household. First, there are some restrictions, you’re not able to use your voucher at any other housing that receives government assistance for rental subsidies. This includes public or Indian housing, Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Section 8 project based housing, etc.

A lot of states have passed laws against discriminating against tenant applications based on their source of income (SIO) distribution. Before these laws were passed, a lot of tenants had trouble getting approved for housing. California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, North Dakota, Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Maryland all have statewide SOI laws so you’re able to apply for any unit.

If you’re not from one of those states there are a few ways you can find units within your area that accept your voucher. Here are some examples:

  • Local ads/ Classifieds- You can always find housing in your local classified ads but it’s important to always look for a label saying “voucher accepted” or “accepts section 8.” You might see a variation of these phrases within your local classifieds and you can always call about the property and ask if they accept a voucher. (ex- craigslist.org)
  • Online Directory- There are a lot of websites that offer a directory of properties that accept section 8 housing. This way you can ensure you’re only seeing the properties that you can actually live in. These directories are efficient if you’re area doesn’t have a lot of properties that accept the voucher since looking through your local classifieds could take you a while to find units.
  • Local Housing Authority Office- Your local housing authority office should also have a list of units that accept section 8 vouchers near you. This list won’t be as extensive as the online directory and there may be more options that aren’t listed with your local office. This is a great option if you’re looking for housing on a hurry.

Step 4: Submit Application and Inspection

A normal lease agreement is handled between two main parties, the tenant and the landlord. Since the voucher involves a third party, the HUD, there are some additional steps required to finalizing the lease agreement. In this section, we’ll go over the different requirements and actions you’ll need to take with each party to utilize your voucher.

Process with Landlord

The great thing about receiving renting to tenants who use a voucher is you can guarantee your rent payments will come in on time every month since most of it is provided through the HUD. If landlords maintain a clean, safe, and functioning property, they’ll probably be approved in the inspection. It’s up to the landlord to provide a safe, healthy and decent space for their tenants.

  1. Get Approved- You’ll have to submit an application with the landlord to get approved for the house you’d like to live in. It’s up the landlord to provide the tenants with a safe and decent space to live in. The have to ensure the unit meets the HUD requirements before and after the household moves into the unit. Landlords still stay in control of their properties and are able to approve, deny, or evict tenants as they see fit and as long as they abide to the lease and the law.
  2. Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) Form- Once you’re approved for the unit, the tenant and the landlord will submit a Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) form to their local housing authority office. You can find an example of the RFTA form here.
  3. Continued Occupancy- It’s up to the landlord to make repairs on a timely manner and ensure the safety and health standards are being met. If they do not meet these requirements, the HUD will stop the monthly payments to the landlord.

Process with the Housing Authority Department

The Public Housing Authority will enter an agreement with the landlord to pay a portion of the rent so there’s a few things you’ll need to do with them as well. Your local HUD office will do annual inspections on the property to make sure it abides to help and safety requirements. If you take a look at the inspection checklist, you can see a few things like electric hazards, condition of the floors and walls, ventilation, plumbing etc.

As we know, the HUD has long waitlists, processes and very limited budget. The demand just outweigh the resources they’re able to provide and the great thing is that they’re working on fixing it. Above you’ll see the national standards for real estate inspections, established in 2019, which was created to develop a process and set guidelines for inspections. They’re main goal is to improve the quality for the residents, the properties, and the overall program. This program is voluntary and certain properties can elect to be apart of it with the hope of developing a process that can lead to improvements nationwide.

  1. Review RFTA- Your local housing authority office will review your RFTA. They will have to ensure the rent is within the household budget, the property meets local and federal laws, it meet HUD requirements, there’s a substantial lease term (at least 6 months), and responsibilities for utilities are clearly listed.
  2. Unit Inspection- Once your RFTA is approved your local HUD office will reach out to the landlord to schedule an inspection. They’ll have to ensure that the properties meet all the health and safety standards laid out by the HUD. You can see a link to the inspection checklist at the beginning of this section.
  3. Issue Payment- After the lease is signed, the HUD will issue a payment to the landlord and you’ll still be responsible for your part of the payment (30% of your monthly income). They’ll continue to send these payments as long as the lease and quality requirements are met.

What should I consider when applying?

Applying for section 8 is not a long process, it’s the waitlist that takes the bulk of the time. There are some very important things you should consider when applying for section 8. You can only submit one application per household. At least one family member has to be a resident or citizen of the United States and has to have a social security number.

Now that you’ve found out which local housing authority offices have open waitlists, you’re ready to submit your application. We’ll go over some of the main things you’ll find on a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher application but each local office may require additional information based on availability and priority. We always recommend reaching out to your local housing authority office before submitting an application. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

What does the Section 8 application ask for?

  1. Head of Household Information– This will include information like name, social security numbers, date of birth, contact information, ethnicity, and race, disability status. If you don’t have a social security number then you can just enter all 9’s, and the same for your phone number. An email will be added in step 5 under contact information.
  2. Household Information- The section is to get more information about the entire household. It’ll ask for your address and household members. You’ll enter their social security numbers, date of birth, sex, disability status, and relationship to head of household. If someone does not have a social security number then you can leave it blank in this section.
  3. Family Income and Assets- This section is to see if you’re eligible for housing assistance. You’ll list the total gross income for family members over the age of 18. If there are payments made to members under the age of 18 then you’ll add them to members over the age of 18. If the income is coming from wages, you’ll have to list the name and address of the employer. They might ask for other assets you have like Checking Account, Savings Account, Stocks and Investments, Real Estate, etc, but you can leave this blank. You don’t have to enter your assets. You should see a red asterisk next to the required fields.
  4. Eligibility and Preferences– This part of the application is how your local office determines your priority on the waitlist. It’s based on a point system so households with the highest points find their way to the top of the waitlist. Emergency vouchers can be given to the elderly, the disabled, veterans, people displaced from other housing units, and people fleeing domestic violence or natural disasters. You’ll answer questions about disability status and employment status. You’ll also provide the preferred language for an interpreter and an email for future contact.
  5. Supplemental Contact Information– If you have someone or an organization helping you with your application, you can add their contact information into your application in this section.
  6. US Citizenship and Certification- IYou’ll see a submit button in this section. It will also get your confirmation that all the information you’ve provided is correct and you’re authorizing any background and citizenship checks.

Can I apply for Section 8 online?

You can apply for a Section 8 voucher online! You can get an online application at your local housing authority office or you can try here. You can apply when a housing authority office waitlist is open, here’s a list of states and their open waitlists. Remember to only apply once per household!

What happens after I apply for Section 8?

You’ll get a confirmation receipt showing your application ID. Applying for section 8 isn’t very difficult but you’ll have to keep records of everything since it takes so long. It’s important to print or take a screenshot of this page for your records. You’ll reference this application ID later on when checking in on your waitlist status or communicating with your local Housing Authority office. We recommend getting a copy of your entire application just in case. You’ll be on the waitlist for a few years at least so you want to make sure you have all the documentation if there is turnover at your local housing authority office.

You should be getting information in the mail or via email when your name reaches the top of the waitlist or if they’re updating your files. Make sure your address is always updated in your online portal and you’re responding to each letter you receive. If you are not responding to your local housing authority office, your name will be removed from the waitlist and you’ll have to start again.

Keep the income information in your application accurate as well. If someone loses their job or income drops, it could move you up on the list since your need will be much higher. When you first sign in to change your application, you’ll create a user name and password that you can use for future changes as well.

What if I don’t qualify for Section 8?

If you don’t qualify for the section, there are other options. The section 8 voucher program is just one of the housing programs provided by the united states. We are working on getting additional resources for people who need housing assistance but don’t qualify for section 8. In some areas, homeownership can be less than the cost of renting. If you have some money to spare for a downpayment, it might be the best option. Some states require a downpayment that less than 4% so it can be an affordable option. You can use a mortgage payment calculator to see how much your payments would be.

What is section 8?

Section 8 is a voucher program provided by the government to low-income families to assist with rent payments. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) runs the program and you can use our search page to find the office closest to you.

This program pays rent directly to the landlord and provides the renter a voucher to redeem their assistance. Not every house, apartment, or townhome accepts these vouchers and it’s up to the renter to find a suitable place that accepts the voucher. All rental units must meet specific safety and health standards. The PHA will inspect the house once a rental contract is agreed upon.

If a rental unit costs more than the voucher, then the family is responsible for the rest of the rent payment. The family member who holds the voucher will be informed on what they’re eligible for in terms of rent, bedrooms and size.

Congress started the program in 1974 with the Housing Community Development Act. The objective was to provide assistance for low-income housing to find reliable housing. The goal is to make sure each household will pay 30% of their income towards rent.

How do I know if I qualify for housing assistance?

To be eligible for assistance you have to above the age of 18. It’s based on household income and family size. In most cases, you cannot exceed 50% of the median income in your general area. Once you call or go to your local office you can ask for the qualifications in your area since each one is different based on the cost of living. You can find income limits here to get a general idea. It’s required that the PHA that 75% of the vouchers provided are for families whose income doesn’t exceed 30% of the median in the area.

How do I apply for benefits?

Since benefits go through local public housing offices, you’ll have to find the location in your area. Applications are free and you can submit them by mail, at a local office, or sometimes online depending on the specific office. The application will ask for information about all the members of your household. If you are interested in applying, you’ll have to contact your local housing authority office. You can find the one closest to you here.

What happens after I submit my section 8 application?

You’ll be put on a waitlist which can take years depending on where you’re located. You can reach out to your local office to confirm you’re spot on the waitlist. Funding for these programs never really match the demand. These waitlists can take years.

There are a few situations where a family could be prioritized on the list:

  • homeless or living in public housing
  • families paying more than 50% of their income to rent
  • people who are involuntary displaced

It’s important to note that a local housing authority can establish their own rules on prioritization based on local needs. Again, we recommend visiting your local office for more information specific to you.

When you are issued the voucher you have at most, 60 days to find housing. Depending on the circumstances, your local office can extend this grace period.

What should I do while I’m on the waitlist?

Since you’ll be on the waitlist for a few years, you’ll want to keep in touch with your local housing authority office. Make sure you make copies of all your documents and take pictures of anything you think is important. You’ll want to keep all your records since you’ll be on the waitlist for years and it’s not always guaranteed that you’ll be working with the same person once it’s your turn to receive the voucher.

Make sure you’re handing in all your paperwork promptly to ensure you have the best chances to get higher on the list.

You should also reach out each time the waitlist opens back up to see how things are going and if you should apply again. The most important thing is to be patient but diligent. It’s going to take a while but if you follow up and complete all the forms properly, you’ll be fine!

How do I find a house that accepts my voucher?

Now that you’ve gone through the application process and you have your voucher, you’ll have to go look for a property that accepts these vouchers. You can go to GoSection8 to find a house in your area that is accepting it. If you find a place that is more than the voucher then you’ll be responsible for the remaining rent.

Your local housing worker will also have a list of landlords in your area that accept the voucher. There are a few things you should consider when you’re looking for a housing that accepts your voucher:

  1. Units must go through an inspection to meet health and safety standards.
  2. Your unit must accept the voucher. There are some areas where a tenant can’t deny you because you have a voucher and for people who live in those areas you don’t need to consider this. Those states are listed below:
    • States: Connecticut, Washington DC, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont, Washington
  3. The rent of the unit must meet your local payment standards. You can find the payment standards by contacting your local office.

What happens if I move?

If you move, you’ll be able to keep your voucher! You’ll still need to move into a house or apartment that accepts the voucher but it’ll be similar to when you first got your voucher. You’ll still need to put in your notice to your landlord and notify your local PHA office that you’re looking to move. Your local office will send you the transfer documents and it should include a notice that you should give to your landlord.

Things are always changing in life and you might find that you might have to move out of state while you are using a section 8 voucher. The great thing is you can transfer your voucher into new jurisdictions and states. It might take some time to get it transferred since the benefits are administered through local offices. You’ll also have to follow more extensive paperwork compared to a transfer within the same jurisdiction. Your current local housing authority office will send you all the paperwork to complete the transfer and they’ll forward it to the new PHA office in your new area. We always recommend meeting with your local office to make sure you clearly understand the process and your responsibilities in completing the transfer. Once you know you qualify for the voucher in your new state, then you can start looking for a new place.

You are not able to move to a new state and keep your voucher if you’ve been receiving it for less than a year. If there’s a lease overlap then the tenant is responsible for the additional rent. You can’t transfer your voucher if you violated your previous lease unless there are special circumstances. Women can be covered under the Violence Against Women Act.

Steps for a Public Housing Authority transfer:

  1. Contact your current local Housing Authority office.
  2. Meet with your local housing authority office to see if you qualify for a transfer and the process required.
  3. Let your current landlord know you’re ending the lease.
  4. Complete the paperwork needed to complete the transfer.
  5. Once your paperwork is submitted we recommend reaching back out to your current local PHA to make sure the forms are good.
  6. Reach out to your new PHA office and see if you qualified to start looking for a new house or appartment.
  7. Once you find a place to live, follow the steps you did when you first recived your voucher.