The Section 8 Housing Program under the Public Housing Agency is funded by the federal government and provides low income families, persons with disabilities or elderly citizens with financial assistance in the form of housing vouchers. The program is focused on helping these categories of citizens find affordable, yet decent places to live by paying a share of the rent to help them.
The application process, however, is not simple in that there is a long waiting list for applicants and waiting times can reach even several years. Because of that, the voucher simply cannot be seen as an instant solution. For instance, sometimes, one family’s circumstances can change greatly with time so when they reach the top of the list, they can be found to be ineligible. If a family is chosen, the Housing Choice Voucher program gives them the liberty to find a home they like in a safe area but which will comply with sanitary and health requirements. The PHA will inspect the rental unit, and if it approves, the family can move in.
How does the Section 8 Housing waiting list work?
Every area, community, county, city or town PHA keeps its own Section 8 housing waiting list and decides whether to keep it open for new applications. Applicants are highly recommended to check with their local housing authority about the waiting list and then decide whether or not to apply for Section 8 Housing assistance. To get on a waiting list, you must first be admitted into the program, and for that, you must meet the program requirements. For instance, to qualify for a Section 8 housing list, your income must be less than 50 percent of the median income for the community/area you would like to live in.
When you receive your voucher, you will pay 30 percent of your income for rent and the PHA will pay a portion of the rent, which is actually the difference between the total rent and your part. This is called a rent subsidy.
Reaching the top of the waiting list is not easy and will take a while. However, some families may get local preference if they are homeless, if they were displaced or if they are living below their means and need immediate assistance. In these circumstances, they will be given vouchers faster. In any case, while applicants can choose the neighborhood and the type of rental unit (apartment, house, townhouse, etc.), they must obey the program requirements and the PHA payment standard.
If you are issued a Section 8 housing voucher, you must start searching for a new home right away. You can check the newspapers or search for Section 8 Housing rentals by going directly in the area you have chosen and see if there are any for rent. Many rental unit landlords today will gladly accept Section 8 voucher holders as tenants because the PHA pays its share without fail every month. In addition, it is against the law for landlords to refuse to rent you a unit just because you are under the Section 8 program.