Learn What You Should Expect When Applying for Section 8 Housing

When you apply for Section 8 housing, you have to prove that you need housing assistance. If you end up being eligible for the program, you might be able to get housing assistance fast, or you may have to wait on a list until there are more available units.

To make sure you do all you can to receive affordable housing through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, follow these guidelines. They can help you know what to expect.

Learn About Requirements

Before you waste your time submitting an application, it’s important to know a bit about its requirements. Eligibility for Section 8 is based on your income, but the exact numbers vary across the country. This is because local median income and cost of living are different everywhere.

Income limits and median income are set by HUD each year, but local PHAs might then have even more rules that you have to meet. The income eligibility standards are based on your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).

Learn How to Apply

The application process you have to follow will be determined by your local PHA. You may have to mail a paper application into the office or complete an application in person if necessary. Also, you might need to complete an interview, which could be done in the office or at your current residence.

The interview will let a PHA representative look at your household to see if the information on your application is correct. Remember: Your application is the just the start of your housing process. If you are eligible and receive a voucher, you will also have to find your own housing unit with a landlord who accepts those vouchers.

The PHA will also have to give the green light on your choice of rental unit, so be sure you follow their rules when looking for a new place.

Aks questions if you’re not sure about anything before you begin your search so you can make sure to find the right home.

Learn How to Prepare

Before you start your application, you want to make sure you have all your proof that you are eligible for Section 8 housing vouchers.

Make sure you reach out to your local office and ask about any documents you might need. Generally, you will need to gather these documents to fill out your application and to have on hand:

  • Proof of your identity. This might include birth certificates, Social Security cards, driver’s licenses or other legal documents mailed to you at your current address.
  • Proof of your income. This will include pay statements, tax returns, child support payments, Social Security payments, and any other source of income you have.
  • Proof of other finances. You will need bank statements, retirement fund information or any other asset details to prove your financial need for housing assistance.
  • Proof of your citizenship or immigration status. Only U.S. citizens or lawfully present immigrants may apply for and receive Section 8 housing vouchers.
  • Proof of your household composition. This will include the full names and Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of everyone in your home, whether you are related or not.

Learn About Waiting Lists

Many PHAs have waiting lists for housing, with many being years long. Some waiting lists are closed to new applications and are only opened every once in a while. If you live in an area with a long waiting list, you can apply to other PHAs. Just make sure you’re able to move to that PHA’s area if you get housing vouchers.

Some PHAs only allow residents to apply. To be sure, you can confirm and apply only to those that allow non-residents to apply.

Some PHAs with long waiting lists will do housing lotteries to try to provide housing to new applicants. If your PHA is offering a lottery, just confirm the conditions and restrictions first and then submit your name.

If your household has very low income, then you might have a higher priority even if you live in an area with a long waiting list.

Learn About Housing Options

The main point of Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is to let people choose where they want to live instead of making them live in government housing with no other choice. With vouchers, recipients can choose where to live, as long as the landlord or homeowner accepts vouchers.

Your local PHA will take a look at the unit you choose and will authorize the vouchers. Make sure you ask a potential landlord or homeowner if they are clear about how Section 8 vouchers work.

Learn About Renting-to-Own With Section 8

Rent-to-own housing lets you lease a house from a landlord and buy it from them at the end of the set lease. You and the landlord will decide on an agreement and choose a sales price. The rent-to-own process is usually a good idea because both the buyer and the seller have a reason to follow through with the deal. Unless you have some type of disability or are elderly, you only have a limited time to receive government assistance.

People who choose rent to own housing are usually trying to improve their finances while they rent. You may also want to test out the home and area before committing to a long-term purchase.

At the end of the lease, you still have the option to leave or purchase the home. You will pay the fee at the beginning of the lease period and will have the option to purchase the property at the end of the lease. If you choose to not purchase the property at the end of the lease, you will not get any money back from your rent. The option fee usually ranges from 1 to 5 percent of the eventual price you will pay for the property.

During the lease period, the seller needs to have full insurance for the home and pay the property taxes. They will also be responsible for paying the homeowner association costs and any other fees.

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher lets low-income families pay their rent through the provided benefits. You can use your housing choice voucher to help pay the rent and rent premiums during the lease. Once the lease is completed, if you are eligible, you can use a homeownership voucher to make payments on the mortgage.

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) homeownership program lets low-income families use their vouchers to purchase a home and receive monthly benefits to meet the expenses. The HCV program is just for families that have been accepted by the program and is not offered by every local PHA. Local PHAs have the option of whether or not to use the HCV homeownership program in their areas.

If you do not already have vouchers, you will need to apply at your local PHA and meet the eligibility requirements. Your voucher payments will be credited toward your mortgage each month. However, vouchers toward the mortgage will not be enough. You still need to qualify for the mortgage and provide a down payment to complete the purchase. For a home to be purchased using this method, it must meet the PHA initial housing quality standards inspection, along with an additional independent home inspection.