How to Apply for Section 8 Housing
If you are part of a low-income family and want to sign up for unemployment benefits or housing assistance, your first step is to visit a nearby Public Housing Authority (PHA) office.
If you are wondering how to sign up for Section 8 and apply for a housing choice voucher, you must first make sure that you meet all program requirements and submit all the requested documentation.
It is also important to understand that the Section 8 Program, often referred to as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, aims to provide financial assistance to low-income families who are otherwise unable to afford safe and decent housing.
It is funded by the federal government through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but run by local public housing authorities.
The typical procedure for this program involves placing an eligible family on a waiting list. A family’s eligibility is determined by their gross annual income (GAI). Their GAI must be 80, 50 or 30 percent below the median income, depending on their area.
To help families gain a better understanding of income limits, the PHA publishes a list of them each year. There are other requirements for the Section 8 Housing Program as well.
When a family reaches the top of the waiting list, they will receive a housing voucher.
Next, the family may search for a rental housing unit by following the housing guidelines. For instance, the unit must meet basic sanitary and health standards.
The voucher is then given to the landlord as partial coverage for the cost of rent.
Learn more in the sections below about the application process for Section 8 and the documents you will need to present:
- How do you sign up for Section 8 Housing?
- How can you prepare for the Section 8 Housing application process?
How do you sign up for Section 8 Housing?
If you are wondering how to apply for Section 8 online or in person, you must first understand the eligibility requirements. These are established by the public housing agencies in your state.
Keep in mind that even if you meet all the eligibility requirements when you apply for the program, you will still have to meet these requirements by the time your name is at the top of the waiting list. This is because waiting times may take much longer than expected.
Furthermore, states and even certain counties within states set their own income limits. It may, therefore, be helpful to visit your local PHA office to find comprehensive information on program requirements and the median income averages required in your area.
You may also request an application from the office. However, you may consider applying for Section 8 online depending on your state.
Some online services feature a straightforward application which may allow you to complete the application more quickly and with much less hassle than at a local PHA office.
In general, you must submit your family’s gross annual income and information about each family member. For each person in your family, you must enter his or her:
- Full name.
- Date of birth.
- Social Security Number (SSN).
- Ethnicity and race.
- Household status. This is where you would indicate whether a person is pregnant, disabled or elderly.
Be sure to double check this information, as it is essential that it is accurate. Inaccurate information may change your eligibility or the type of voucher you receive.
If any of this information changes, such as a person’s pregnancy status, you must fill out and submit a waiting list information change form to your local agency.
The Section 8 application will also request more details about your family income.
For instance, you will have to answer questions about each family member’s salary, liquid assets and other sources of income.
Liquid assets are assets that can be easily converted into cash.
Your local PHA office will not review your application until all the required information is submitted.
If the department approves your application, you will be placed on a waiting list.
How can you prepare for the Section 8 Housing application process?
Before you can apply for the Section 8 program online or in person, it is important that you have your documents in order and other important information readily accessible.
This information must also be as accurate as possible and contain the most up-to-date details about your family’s situation.
In addition, you may need to have supporting documents such as proof of identity, citizenship or legal presence in the U.S. readily available.
This is because the PHA may contact you after your submission if they need to verify any of these documents.
The PHA will also run a background check on you and your family. In effect, it is especially important to provide accurate information on your income, identity and current situation.
If you are approved, the PHA office will notify you of your application status and request an interview.
You may be required to provide your verification documents at the interview.
Qualifying proofs of identity include a state-issued ID card or driver’s license, a valid U.S. passport or passport card, a Social Security (SS) card or another valid SS document.
Proof of citizenship or legal presence in the U.S. may be a certified birth certificate or an unexpired document issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Finally, you must submit proof of income in the form of a recent pay stub, W-2 form or benefit award letter.
It may be a good idea to have recent bank statements or credit card statements available as well.
The interview provides your assigned PHA worker the chance to confirm your eligibility for the program and review your verification documents.
The worker is also likely to ask about your family and may request that you clarify certain aspects of your application.
He or she may then explain the program’s basic information and requirements, what is expected of you and what rights you have when you participate in the program.
Then, you must sign any forms presented to you by the worker.
After a certain amount of time, you may reach the top of the waiting list and be required to attend a voucher briefing.
The PHA will then send you a package detailing your request for tenancy approval. Once you receive your voucher and this package, you may begin searching for a home.