How to Search Section 8 Apartment Listings

To get started on how to search for Section 8 apartment listings, you first need to know that Section 8 of the US housing law is a federally funded program, which is intended to provide assistance to millions of low-income people. Not all landlords are required to participate in the Section 8 apartment program. Sometimes it can be difficult to find apartment listings in this classification. However, those who are selected and consistently meet the program’s requirements will receive ongoing assistance and have the ability to choose where they want to live within the United States.

What is the Housing Choice Voucher program (Section 8 apartments)?

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the US federal government’s primary program to assist very low-income, elderly, and disabled families with renting or buying a home on the private market. Housing Choice Vouchers are administered locally by Public Housing Agencies (PHAs).

How do Section 8 apartments work?

When a low-income individual or family is selected for the program, they will be responsible for finding Section 8 housing that meets minimum health and safety standards determined by the PHA. The agency pays an affordable housing subsidy directly to the landlord on behalf of the participating family, and the family will be required to pay the difference. If authorized by the PHA, under certain circumstances, the voucher may be used to purchase a home.

What extra benefits does being part of the Section 8 list bring?

Being part of this section 8 program allows you to save and improve your quality of life, since 30% of the total cost of rent is on your own, while the remaining 70% is subsidized by the program.

What is the HUD?

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides funds to enable PHAs to make housing assistance payments on behalf of low-income families. He also oversees the administration of the program to ensure that the rules are properly followed.

Requirements to participate and eligibility

Eligibility to participate in the Section 8 apartment program is determined by the PHA based on annual gross income and family size, in addition to the rules that each local PHA has, because each city, each county, or each state It is governed by different rules. It is an eligibility requirement to be a US citizen or a non-citizen with legal immigration status. The criminal history of the applicant and the people who will live with him are also taken into account.

Can I enroll in Section 8 as a Latin American?

In case you are Latin American, the only requirement you must meet to participate in this assistance program is to have legal immigrant status, since you need a social security number to complete the application.

How to apply for a Section 8 voucher

HUD provides assistance for renters and homeowners. If you are going to request a tenant’s voucher, you must have documentation of your income, through your pay stubs, which attests to the salary you get, and get a written document from the owner of the house you rent with the amount you currently pay. If the help you need is to pay the mortgage on the house you have, you should have your mortgage information on hand.

Contact the local PHA to begin the application process. Get help filling out the forms if you don’t speak English.

What should I take into account before applying?

When submitting an application for housing vouchers, the PHA will collect information about you and your family, so it’s a good idea to have the following information on hand:

  • The program is exclusively for individuals or families with a certain income level based on area income, and cannot exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area where you choose to live. You can use HUD’s online tool and check if this requirement is met.
  • In order for a family to apply for a voucher, at least one family member must have documents to legally live in the United States.
  • All housing authorities do background checks on applicants, but each state applies different rules.

Local preferences: how do they affect me?

Local housing agencies may set preferences for selecting applicants from the waiting list. For example, they might give preference to a family that is homeless or living in substandard housing, uses more than 50% of their monthly income to pay rent, or has experienced eviction. Families that meet these requirements advance above other families.

What to know about the voucher

There are certain things you should know about your voucher or coupon in case you are selected.

  • The voucher does not have a fixed amount to pay rent, but it does have a limit on the number of rooms the home can have.
  • It is a good idea to calculate the cost of basic services, so that in case you are not sure of the amount that the voucher allows to pay for them, you contact the PHA immediately.
  • You will need to cover the security deposit. In some states, there are programs that can help you with that expense.

How to apply for Section 8 apartments

The first step is to contact the local housing agency. At the following link, select your state on the map to obtain PHA contact information. There they will indicate the steps of filling out the application. You can do it in person or online.

The waiting list and how to enter

It is very likely that when you submit the application you will be on a waiting list, since the number of people applying for housing vouchers is greater than the housing vouchers available. The delay is sometimes months, but sometimes it can be years.

What can I do while I’m on the waiting list?

Once you are on the waiting list, all you have to do is be patient. Remember that there is no limit to the number of waiting lists you can sign up for. In the event that you or someone in your family unit has a chronic illness that may be exacerbated due to your current living conditions, it is possible to expedite the process by asking the doctor for a letter explaining to the PHA how the new home would help to improve the quality of life.

Also, it’s a good idea to respond immediately to any notifications from authorities to show interest in your application, so keep your information up to date and provide a reliable email address and mailing address. It would be a good idea to keep a written record of all communication with the PHA.

You have to keep an eye on the new waiting lists that open in your state to continue making applications. Joining online communities on social media can keep you connected and get help from others in the same situation.

In what cases is the Section 8 subsidy denied?

Some of the most common cases of denial occur when the individual has a history of violence, either toward other people or toward public or private property, or when the individual is involved in cases involving drug use or distribution.

How do I know if I was selected in Section 8?

It is important to make sure that the email is written correctly and that your postal address and all your information are updated, since the authorities will send you a statement informing you that you have been selected. If the email is invalid or not spelled correctly, your application will be removed from the waiting list.

What do I do if my application was accepted?

It’s time to start looking for suitable housing. Once you have found the unit you want to occupy and reach an agreement with the landlord regarding the terms of the rental agreement, the PHA will inspect the unit and determine if the requested rent is reasonable.

Tips for Searching Section 8 Apartments

This can be one of the trickier parts, as many property owners may not accept Section 8 vouchers. You can try looking for an apartment or house with a social worker, with local housing authorities, in publications and listings ( including the HUD map), on the different websites dedicated to listing properties, as well as on social media pages and groups.

How to find Section 8 apartment listings?

Today, if you want a rental home, the Craigslist website is the most used by landlords who do not want to pay to advertise on apartment listing services. Check out the Craigslist schedule in your city or nearby town.

Check newspapers and apartment guides posted online. Both publications have lists indicating whether the landlord accepts Section 8 as part of the rental agreement. HUD has its own Section 8 search site. Websites that list apartments, such as Affordable Housing Online, also offer ways to search specifically for Section 8 housing.

Rental houses that accept Section 8

It is possible to refine online searches to specifically search for Section 8 rental houses. Remember to check your voucher to see how many rooms your house can have, and how much money you will have to pay for utilities.

How to apply

Once you’ve found the ideal home you want to rent, you need to deliver the documents to the homeowner, as well as the PHA. Read the lease carefully, and make sure the agency receives a copy of the lease, as well as a copy of the rental application.

After you have signed the rental agreement, the PHA will schedule a visit to the home to make sure it meets the requirements. Once the PHA has approved it, you will be able to move into your new home.

Posible problems

There are reasons why it is recommended to document the entire housing search process, as you could run into some obstacles. You may not find suitable housing within the period granted, which ranges from 60 to 120 days, depending on the location. You will be able to request an extension, but you will need to show that you have made the effort to find a place.

In some cases, landlords or even agencies place barriers for voucher users to limit them to living in certain areas, which is considered discrimination. Since December 2019, laws prohibiting these discriminatory practices have gone into effect in fourteen US states, so if it happens, you can report it to your local housing authority, legal aid office, or an experienced housing attorney. housing justice.

Landlord, Tenant, and Housing Authority Obligations

Once the rental agreement has been signed, both the landlord, the tenant and even the PHA obtain obligations and responsibilities that they must comply with:

  • You must sign a rental agreement of at least one year. The landlord may ask you for deposit insurance. You will be expected to comply with the rental agreement and program requirements, pay your share of the rent on time, keep the unit in good condition, and notify the PHA of changes in income or composition of the family.
  • The landlord must maintain the housing standards and provide the services agreed upon as part of the contract.
  • The PHA contracts with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord does not fulfill the obligations of the contract, the PHA may stop the assistance payments. In addition, the PHA will be required to review family income and composition annually, and inspect each unit to ensure that it meets minimum housing quality standards.

Can I move and still get Section 8 vouchers?

The program allows people to move without losing housing assistance. If you wish to move, you are required to notify your local housing agency in advance, terminate your existing rental agreement in accordance with the provisions of the rental agreement, and seek alternative housing.