How To Apply For Section 8 Housing

A low-income housing program federally financed, supervised by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and operated locally by public housing agencies (PHAs) across the nation, Section 8 is one of the most known and most sough-after housing assistance programs. Under Section 8, qualified renters receive a "housing choice voucher" from their PHA. This voucher allows them to get a private market rental unit from landlords who are willing to accommodate Section 8 tenants. The voucher finances a part of the tenant's rent. A household's earnings determine whether they can obtain a Section 8 voucher.

1. The first step is contacting your local PHA. This is important because most PHAs have their own processes and regulations.

2. You can ask your PHA if it’s possible for you to receive a housing voucher right away or if you will be placed on a waiting list, which more often than not, is the case. Areas with larger populations tend to have longer waiting lists, thus, longer wait times. You must also inquire about open waiting lists.

3. Inform your local PHA of circumstances that might require you to be given preferential placement on their Section 8 waiting list. These preferences may include half of your salary going to housing costs.

4. Prepare for the qualification interview. Once you are on top of the waiting list and housing vouchers are available, you will be required by PHA to attend an interview. According to HUD, one of the key factors in getting application approval for Section 8 assistance is if your household's total earnings falls below 50% of your area's median income.

5. Look for property owners who are willing to accept Section 8 vouchers. Your local PHA can give you a list. Some areas also hold events where potential renters and tenant-searching landlords can meet.

6. Once you find a unit you want to rent, inform the PHA. They will have it inspected to make sure that it meets the housing standards that are set by the HUD. Once approved, you and a representative from the PHA can negotiate the rental amount with the landlord. If in case the rent amount is more than the allowed housing assistance for the area, you may still rent the property, but you will have to pay for the exceeding amount beyond what the PHA is allowed to cover.

7. Sign a lease with the landlord. The PHA will sign a housing assistance contract which runs the same length as your lease with the landlord as well. Violating terms of the contract can lead to termination of your housing assistance or eviction. Note that your landlord must treat you the same way he treats market-rate tenants.