Learn About the HUD Housing Process

The Section 8 program is a housing assistance benefit that provides rent assistance to low-income individuals across the country. Although federally sponsored, each state is in charge to run the Section 8 housing program and oversee administering benefits through Public Housing Agencies. Beneficiaries must find rentals that accept housing vouchers as the final part of the program.

Potential applicants must complete the Section 8 application carefully and present all the required documents to prove eligibility. Those who understand the requirements before they apply for Section 8 are more likely to complete the process quickly. However, candidates cannot apply for housing voucher benefits online and must do so in person at a local PHA. 

To learn more about the program’s requirements, and steps to complete the section 8 application and fulfill the eligibility criteria, applicants can read the sections below.

How to Verify Section 8 Requirements

Before you apply for Section 8, you need to know the program’s requirements. You can fill the Section 8 application but will not receive a notice of approval unless you meet all the requirements. 

While some PHAs have different rules and exceptions when it comes to approving applications, the main conditions are the same for all applicants. The four Section 8 eligibility requirements you must meet include the following:

  • Family composition – Housing voucher applicants must meet the family the definition of the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Qualifying single individuals, families without children, elderly families and disabled family applicants are some examples of families according to the HUD.
  • Income requirement – Section 8 housing benefits target extraordinarily low-income and very low-income individuals. Therefore, applicants must meet the income qualifications to receive benefits. Candidates must earn an income at or below 50 percent of the median state income. Those applicants who fall less than 30 percent of this average are almost always guaranteed benefits. On the other hand, applicants with an income level between 50 percent and at or below 80 percent may receive benefits only under particular circumstances such as continuous eligibility.
  • Legal status – U.S. citizens can automatically satisfy the legal status required to receive benefits. Only eligible non-citizens who present the necessary documentation can meet this requirement.
  • Background check: Applicants and their family members must have a history free of criminal activity on public housing premises and other convictions. 

Gather All Necessary Section 8 Documents

To apply for Section 8, you must present all the necessary documents to prove your income, legal status and meet other requirements as outlined above. Along with your Section 8 application forms, you must provide reports from the INS if you fall under the category of an eligible non-citizen. Some documents to prove eligibility include the following:

  • Permanent resident card
  • Alien registration card I – 151
  • I – 94 record
  • Proof of individual statuses such as refugee or asylum

Additionally, you must provide the following information in your Section 8 application form:

  • Current address and contact information
  • Names, gender, age information and relationship to the head of the household of you and each of your family members.
  • Unique family status like a displaced, elderly or disabled family.
  • Contact information of the applicant’s previous landlords. 
  • Other personal information including affiliation with banks and work history and Income information

Failing to provide this information on your Section 8 application can result in a denial. Upon your local PHA’s discretion, you must also provide any additional documents to meet the program’s requirements.

How to Locate a Public Housing Agency

The HUD website provides information on the Section 8 housing program and has a resource locator for you to use. You can find out more about what is Section 8 and locate your local public housing agency where you can also get resources like listings that accept housing vouchers. More importantly, you will be able to submit your benefits application at this location. 

You also need to submit the Section 8 eligibility documents. Once your process begins, you will work along with a caseworker. You will also need to complete a section 8 interview to ensure that you meet the requirements. Then, you will present your documentation to prove your eligibility. If you do not have all the necessary documents at that point, you will only receive a prorated amount of benefits you may be eligible for. 

This Section 8 estimate of benefits will allow you to start your search for housing. The next step is to look for Section 8 houses for rent while you wait on your decision. The PHA will notify you once they decide on your case.  

Learn About Receiving Your Case Notice

If you completed the Section 8 application correctly and submitted all the necessary documentation to fulfill the requirements, you will receive an approval from your local PHA. You will receive a housing voucher for at least 60 days in which you must find a suitable rental unit.

Keep in mind that you need to find Section 8 apartments or houses that accept your housing voucher benefit. If you fail to find Section 8 houses for rent, you can receive an extension of your voucher at the discretion of your local PHA. However, you may need to reapply if you do not get an extension or be placed on a waiting list.

Failing to find a Section 8 apartment by the voucher’s deadline does not disqualify you from receiving benefits when you reapply. On the other hand, if you receive a section 8 application denial, you will need to review the reasons described in your denial letter. You can submit an appeal if you determine that the decision was wrongful. You may also have the option of providing any missing information or documents that could overturn the PHA’s decision on your case

How to Search for Section 8 Apartments and Houses

There are several ways to find Section 8 houses for rent in your area. You can contact your local PHA where you submitted your section 8 application for information on rental units near you that accept housing vouchers. 

While you cannot apply for Section 8 online, you can use online tools to find your next house or apartment. Go Section 8 is an online tool that can help candidates like you find affordable housing that accepts your benefits.

Once you find a Section 8 house for rent, you must submit a tenancy request at your local PHA. The PHA may approve your Section 8 housing request for tenancy and grant an extension for your voucher if they deny the claim. 

Applicants that receive a Section 8 rental denial you will have to find another unit or rental option. You may receive an extension on your Section 8 voucher duration that will be equivalent to the amount of time the PHA took to process your request.