How to apply for the Section 8 rental voucher program in California

The federal housing assistance program that people usually refer to as Section 8 is, officially, the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The program is administered by individual states and allows participants to allocate only 30% of their monthly income to pay rent. The local housing agency pays the owner the rest. To qualify for Section 8 in California, your income cannot exceed 50% of the country’s average income. Potential tenants need to apply to participate in the program.

Go to the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV) website of the California Department of Housing and Urban Development for contact information for your city’s housing authority.

Call the housing authority and ask for information about how to apply for Section 8. Some counties have an online application process, but many require it to be done on paper. You can usually download the form from your city’s housing authority website or request that it be sent to you by mail.

Complete the application with information about the members of your home and their finances. This includes the name, date of birth, social security number and a driver’s license or other official photo ID of all adults in the household. You must report all income, including social service benefits, such as monetary assistance and social security payments. To prove your residency in California, you must provide a recent bill for a service or your lease or deed agreement.

Take the application form to your city’s housing authority office. A social worker will process your application and send you a notification with the date and time of your mandatory interview. All adult members of the household must attend the interview.

Attend the interview and fill out the additional papers for the criminal background check that all housing authorities make to applicants in Section 8.

Provide the names and contact information of the current and previous owners of the dwellings you inhabited and personal and professional references that can check your income history and character. The housing authority will also find out the criminal records of all adult applicants. Federal law prohibits criminals from participating in the Section 8 program.

Respond honestly to the questions that the social worker asks in the interview. For most questions, it is easy to verify the information in your application. Make sure you have completed everything correctly so that you are not thoroughly questioned about your financial history or money management. However, the social worker will verify your answers with government agencies and other sources, and any fraudulent information you provide could cause your request to be denied.

Wait to receive notification of acceptance in the Section 8 program in your city. Areas such as San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco may have waiting lists that span two to five years, so you may not have an immediate response.