Low-income families in the United States who would like to learn where to sign up for unemployment benefits or housing assistance can do so by visiting an unemployment office or a public housing authority office in their area.
The application procedure for a housing choice voucher is simple, if you meet all the requirements and submit the necessary documents. The Section 8 Program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is funded by the federal government and was established to provide financial assistance to low-income families who are unable to afford a decent home. The program is locally administered by public housing authorities that receive funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Eligible families are put on a waiting list, and once they reach the top, they are given a housing voucher. The family can then search for a rental unit that must adhere to the sanitary and health standards and the voucher is used to pay a portion of the rent directly to the landlord.
The main eligibility requirement is based on the family’s gross annual income, which must be 80, 50 or 30 percent from the median area income. The income limits are published by the PHA each year, and low-income families must meet additional requirements as well to be eligible for Section 8.
To find out more about the application process for Section 8 and the documents you need to prepare, read the sections outlined below:
- How can I sign up for Section 8 Housing?
- How to prepare to apply for Section 8 housing
How can I sign up for Section 8 Housing?
If you meet all eligibility requirements set by your state public housing agencies, you are ready to learn how to apply for Section 8 online or in person, depending on your state. Note that meeting all eligibility requirements at the time of applying does not deem you eligible when your name reaches the top of the waiting list. Waiting times can be lengthy and sometimes take years to get a housing voucher.
Additionally, income limits are different for each state and even counties. Citizens who are interested in applying for the program can find detailed information on the requirements and median income averages by visiting their nearest PHA, where they can also obtain an application.
To help low-income families complete the process easily, housing authorities have also enabled the submission of online applications for Section 8 in many states. One such example is Montana, where applicants can fill out an application in a few simple steps and avoid waiting in lines at the PHA.
The online system will ask you to enter personal and family information about everyone in your household. First, you will need to enter your family’s gross annual income. Next, you must enter information about the head of the household and every family member such as:
- Full names
- Dates of birth
- Social Security Numbers
- Ethnicity and race
- Household status (specify whether any family member is pregnant, disabled or elderly)
- Family size
All of the aforementioned information must be accurate. If any of your personal details change, you must complete a Waiting List Information Change Form and submit it to the appropriate agency.
The third part of the online application for Section 8 must contain details about your family income – more specifically, information about your salaries, assets and any other sources of income. Once you have completely filled out your application and submitted it, the appropriate department will review your details. If it is considered approved, you will then be put on a waiting list.
How to Prepare to Apply for Section 8 Housing
Before you submit a paper or online application for Section 8, you must prepare certain documents and information that may be required. Additionally, your application must contain accurate and up-to-date details about you and your family. In order to provide a complete form, make sure to have all necessary documents at hand.
Once you submit the application, the public housing agency may contact you for supporting documents, such as proof of identity or citizenship. Additionally, the PHA will run a background check to make sure that you have provided accurate information regarding your income, identity and other details.
If your application is approved, a PHA worker will contact you for an interview and may ask you to bring additional documents for review, such as:
- Proof of identity (ID card, passport, driver’s license, Social Security card).
- Proof of citizenship or legal immigrant status.
- Proof of income (pay stub, benefit award letter, bank statement).
During the interview, a PHA worker will confirm your eligibility and review the documents. You will be asked about your family and the worker will gather your documents. You will then be asked to sign all necessary forms and provide basic information about the program requirements, as well as your rights and responsibilities.
If your application is approved, you will be put on a waiting list. When you reach the top of the waiting list, you will be called for a voucher briefing. Thereafter, a Request for Tenancy Approval package will be sent to you. Upon receiving the voucher and the RFTA, you can then start searching for a decent home in your preferred area.