Learn 4 HUD Essentials You Need to Know

The Section 8 voucher program is a federally run plan that provides housing assistance to low-income individuals. The goal of the Section 8 housing program is to help low-income families live in optimal housing conditions in a safe and clean environment. Even though the federal government funds the program, states are responsible for administering the benefits to its residents. Through Public Housing Agencies and other local Housing Authorities, states can serve most of the population within their territory.

Since the Section 8 housing program targets low-income individuals, applicants must satisfy the income-based requirement to receive benefits. There are additional Section 8 qualifications that candidates must also meet to receive a notice of approval. Once an applicant gets his or her benefits, he or she needs to find section 8 rentals that accept the housing vouchers and submit a request of tenancy with their PHA.

To learn more about the specific Section 8 requirements, applicants can read the complete information below. The following sections provide insightful details on the eligibility criteria, application process, navigation through Section 8 listings and more.

1. Find Out About Section 8 Criteria

Individuals that apply for Section 8 must meet all the program eligibility criteria to qualify for benefits. Moreover, prospective beneficiaries of the Section 8 vouchers must provide the PHA with all the necessary documentation to prove their eligibility. All applicants must locate their nearest PHA and submit their application for at this location. 

They must also submit their verification documents and complete their interview here as requested by the PHA. As far as the Section application form, applicants must ensure to provide all the following:

  • Their contact information and contact information from previous landlords
  • Demographic information of them and their family members, including age, gender and relationship
  • Any current special family status, elderly members or family members with a disability
  • Contact information of the applicant’s previous landlords

Meeting the Definition of a Family

Only families can apply for Section 8 benefits. In some instances, single members will meet the “family definition” criteria of the HUD. Displaced families, elderly and disabled Section 8 applicants are also considered family under the terms that the HUD outlines.

Learn About Section 8 Qualifications for Income

Because Section 8 housing benefits are meant to support low-income individuals, only those applicants that meet the program’s income levels will receive benefits. Section 8 qualifications for income are divided into three main categories. States set the income limits an individual can earn against their median income. Individuals that have an income at or below 50 percent of the state median income can qualify for benefits.

Furthermore, most Section 8 funds go to extremely low-income individuals with incomes at or below 30 percent of the state median income. Some Section 8 applicants with income above 50 percent and at or below 80 percent of the median income may qualify for benefits. However, this is only possible under exceptional circumstances and at the decision of the local PHA. Family size and composition also affect the income limit a family must meet to qualify for benefits.

Citizenship Requirements

Citizens who apply for Section 8 benefits and meet all other requirements will qualify for benefits. However, only eligible legal non-citizens can be recipients of Section 8 housing vouchers if they provide the necessary documentation to prove their legal status. This type of applicants must submit their verification paperwork to the PHA.

About the Criminal Background Check

The Section 8 program reviews an applicant’s and his or her family member’s criminal history. To receive Section 8 housing vouchers, applicants and their families must have a clean record of convictions that occur at public housing units. Examples of criminal activities include possession of controlled substances, manufacturing of methamphetamine, and acts of fraud or bribery towards any public housing program or PHA.

2. How to Apply for Section 8

Families that meet the Section 8 eligibility requirements can apply for benefits at their local PHA. Candidates cannot apply for section 8 online or through the phone. However, candidates can use the HUD resource locator tool online to find PHA locations where they can submit their application. Applicants must turn in all the information that the PHA requests as well as verification documents and complete the program’s interview to complete the process successfully.

3. Receiving a Section 8 Decision Notice

After applicants submit their Section 8 housing application, they will receive a notice with the decision on their case. If the PHA approves their Section 8 application, beneficiaries might receive their housing vouchers or be placed on a waiting list until they can receive benefits. On the other hand, when the PHA denies an applicant’s request for benefits, they will send him or her notice with the details for the denial.

Applicants that a PHA places on the Section 8 waiting list must wait until benefits become available. However, PHA encourages applicants to look for listings in the meantime and have them ready for when they can use their benefits.

Section 8 applicants who can use their benefits right away must look for apartments that accept the housing voucher and submit a tenancy request to their PHA. There are at least 60 days for applicants to find a listing that allows housing vouchers. Applicants may ask for an extension of this period, but if they cannot meet the deadline, they will be placed on the section 8 waiting list. Some applicants may have to reapply for benefits.

On the other hand, Section 8 applicants that receive a denial letter have the right to appeal the decision if they believe in having met all the requirements. The PHA will provide reasons as to why they denied an applicant’s Section 8 application in a written notice. Applicants may present any documents to overturn this decision if the PHA allows them to do so. Generally, the PHA will also have a deadline for applicants to submit any missing paperwork to complete their request. 

4. How to Find Apartments That Accept Section 8

There are plenty of resources to locate houses and apartments that accept Section 8 housing benefits. Beneficiaries can use online tools like Go Section 8 to find affordable listings in their area. PHAs also have plenty of information on listings available locally that rent to housing voucher holders. Vouchers recipients can also ask landlords and apartment complex to find out if they receive housing vouchers.