Section 8 Secret - How to get Section 8 Housing Assistance
How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in California
Section 8 is a federal program that helps people pay their rent. If approved, you receive a voucher that the state’s housing authority pays directly to your landlord. You then pay the difference in the rent.To apply, visit your local housing authority and complete an application. Because demand for vouchers is heavy in California, you should consider applying for housing in lower-demand areas. Wait time in higher population areas like Los Angeles could be up to 4 years. You should also consider applying for public housing through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.
Qualifying for Section 8
Calculate your income.Section 8 is an income-based program. Accordingly, you need to have an income lower than your area’s median income for a family of your size. Add up all sources of income, including the following:
- retirement income
- Social Security benefits
- workers’ compensation benefits
- unemployment benefits
- child support
- welfare assistance
Compare your income to your area’s median.The median is the midpoint—half of all people will have income above this point and half will have income below. You can find your median here: . Based on your income, you’ll be placed into one of three categories:
- Low income. You earn 80% or less of your area’s median income.
- Very low income. You earn 50% or less of the area’s median income.
- Extremely low income. You earn 30% or less of the area’s median income. By law, 75% of all vouchers are given to people in the extremely low income category.
Meet other requirements.To qualify for Section 8, you must meet additional requirements. You can check all requirements with your local housing authority:
- Immigration status. The Section 8 program is limited to U.S. citizens and certain categories of non-citizens with eligible immigration status.If your family has ineligible immigrants, then your benefit amount will be reduced provided you qualify.
- Disqualifying evictions. To qualify for a Section 8 voucher, you cannot have been evicted from any Section 8 program (or public housing) for drug-related criminal activity within the past three years. The clock starts from the date of the eviction.
- Other requirements. Your housing authority may have other requirements.
Applying to the Section 8 Program
Find the correct housing authority.You’ll apply for Section 8 at the housing authority for the area where you want to live. For example, you might live in Alameda right now but want to move to San Diego. In that situation, you’ll apply to the San Diego housing authority.
- You can find contact information for all state housing authority offices here: .
- Make sure that the words “Both” or “Section 8” appear under the “Type” column.
- A phone number and email address are provided.
- There are also 106 housing authorities in California that offer the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Complete an application.Your housing authority can tell you how to apply. There may be a paper application, or you may need to apply online. You will need to provide information about your family and your income.
- Demand for Section 8 is high in many California cities and counties. Accordingly, the housing authority may only accept Section 8 applications during certain times of the year. You should read the local newspaper to find out when the application period has opened.
Check if you qualify for a local preference.Because waiting lists are so long, the housing authority sometimes moves people up the list because they are especially needy. Contact the housing authority and ask. For example, a family might be moved up the list in the following situations:
- the family is homeless or currently living in substandard housing
- the family pays more than 50% of its income in rent
- the family has been displaced involuntarily
Await your results.After receiving your application, the housing authority will verify the information with your employer, bank, and other local agencies. Based on these results, they will then determine your eligibility and how much assistance you qualify for.
- If eligible, your name will go on a waiting list. However, if the waiting list is too long, the housing authority can close the list and not put you on it.
- When your name is finally reached on the list, the housing authority will contact you. Because you might be waiting a long time, you should always give your housing authority any updated address and contact information.
- Once a voucher is available, the housing authority must re-confirm that you qualify.
Calculate the amount of your voucher.Your housing authority should let you know how much your voucher is for and what sized unit you can rent. Generally, you must pay 30% of your monthly adjusted gross income for utilities and rent.
- For example, if your monthly income is ,000, you will need to pay 0 in rent and utilities.
- However, you might have to pay more, depending on your circumstances.
Find a landlord who will accept your voucher.As a recipient, you can rent any home on the market so long as it meets certain safety conditions. The landlord also must agree to rent to you. A landlord is not required to rent to someone with a Section 8 voucher.
- Your housing authority might have a list of apartment buildings that regularly rent to section 8 recipients and which have passed the inspection. Ask if any list is available.
- You can also use HUD’s affordable apartment search engine, available here: .
- When you find a place, you must reach an agreement to rent with the landlord and then contact the local housing authority to inspect the home.
Applying for Public Housing Instead
Distinguish public housing from Section 8.HUD also runs some public housing. With a voucher, you rent from a private landlord who is paid by HUD. By contrast, with public housing, you rent directly from your local housing authority.
- Public housing might be an option if your Section 8 waiting list is too long.
Check if you are eligible.Your eligibility will be based on a variety of factors, such as income and family size, as well as criminal background. Talk to your housing authority about whether you qualify.
- Find your nearest housing authority here: . Make sure the words “Both” or “Low-rent” appear in the "Type" column.
- If you can’t reach the housing authority, then contact your local HUD Field Office.They should be able to help.
Submit an application and documentation.Your housing authority representative will need to collect information from you during the application process. For example, you must provide the following:
- Names of everyone who will live in the unit, including their date of birth, sex, and relationship to the head of household. You should have birth certificates.
- Your current address and telephone number.
- Names and addresses of your current and prior landlords.
- Your expected family income for the next 12 months. You may need to show a recent tax return.
- Names of employers, banks, and others the housing authority can contact as references. They need to verify your income and other information.
- Any circumstances that might qualify you to leapfrog others on the waiting list. For example, you might be a veteran, homeless, or living in substandard housing.
Check if you qualify for a preference.Because each housing authority has a limited budget, they can move people up the waiting list. You should ask the housing authority if they have preferences. For example, Los Angeles awards preference to families with a head of household who is:
- Working at least 20 hours a week at the state minimum wage.
- Attending an accredited college or trade/vocational school full-time, and is expected to find employment after graduation.
- Working and attending school for at least 20 hours a week combined.
- Otherwise economically self-sufficient.
- Disabled or 62 years older.
Receive notification.You’ll receive written notification of the results. If you are denied, you can request an informal hearing as an appeal.
- If you’re eligible, then your name will go on a waiting list unless the housing authority has a spot available for you.
Calculate your rent.HUD will calculate your rent by taking your gross annual income less certain deductions. Annual income is all income you and your family receive from all sources. If you have undocumented migrants in your household, you will pay more (since they are ineligible). You will need to pay the highest of any of the following amounts:
- 30% of your adjusted monthly income (minus allowed deductions)
- 10% of your monthly income
- minimum rent, of -50
- welfare rent, if applicable
QuestionIs the housing voucher program currently accepting application in California?
AttorneyAttorneyExpert AnswerYes, the housing voucher program in California is currently accepting applications.Thanks!
QuestionSenior living in san diego with kidney failure income of 48500/ year could I get rent help?
AttorneyAttorneyExpert AnswerThis depends, what are your financial obligations? Your income is definitely on the higher end.Thanks!
Can my working adult children continue to live with me?
Can I transfer section 8 from one place to another when it's within the same state?
How do I find out if I'm eligible?
I am 62 years old and my income yearly is 400. Am i eligible for rent help?
- To increase your likelihood of getting a voucher, you can apply to as many housing authorities as you want. You are not limited to the housing authority for the city or county where you currently live. However, you must rent in the area where you get a housing voucher. Accordingly, don’t apply for Section 8 unless you can live in the area.
Video: How to Apply for Section 8 Housing
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