To help American citizens in paying rent, the federal government’s Department for Housing and Urban Development runs a program commonly referred to as section 8. If you want to be a part of this program, you have to comply with its conditions by submitting your income details through an application. If you become eligible for the program, you will receive a voucher that would be valid across the list of locations. At these locations, the rent of your house will be paid directly to your landlord by your local public housing authority office.
However, to be approved by the local housing authority, you need to consider the low-demanded areas as the vouchers are in high demand for certain rental locations. Most of the time, people have to wait for more than 4 years to get a voucher in highly dense population areas like Los Angeles.
Moreover, if you’re a resident of California, your chances of getting selected may increase if you apply through the California section 8 housing program.
So, how to apply for section 8 in California? Consider the following options to maximize your chances of receiving housing vouchers.
Steps to Apply for Section 8 Housing Voucher in California
Step #1: Calculate your Income
The federal Section 8 program depends precisely on your monthly income. To be eligible for the program, you have to have an income that is lower than the average income of your area, particularly for a family of your size.
Calculate all the sources of income, such as:
- Retirement benefits
- Social security benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Worker’s compensation benefits
- Welfare assistance
- Child support
Step #2: Find your Area’s Average Income
Average or median is the point where half of the collective population of a specific area has a higher and half of the people have a lower income than this point. To find where you stand, you can find your place here. According to your income, you will have a place in any of these categories.
- Low income: Your earnings are 80% or less than the average income of your area.
- Very low income: Your earnings are 50% or less than the average income of your area.
- Extremely low income: Your earnings are 30% or lower than the average income of your area. According to law, 75% of the housing vouchers are assigned to people with extremely low-income holders.
Step #3: Meet Other Requirements
To qualify for the section 8 housing program, you also need to meet additional requirements that can be checked through the local housing authority.
Disqualifying Eviction: You have not to be evicted for drug or criminal activity from any of the section 8 housing programs within the past 3 years.
Immigration Status: Section 8 federal housing program is restricted to the citizens of the United States and specific non-citizen categories with certain immigration statuses. If you have ineligible immigrants in your family, then it’s probable that your benefits would be reduced.
Other Requirements: your local housing authority may have other requirements as well.
Step #4: Find the Appropriate Housing Authority
It is essential to know that you have to apply for the housing authority in the area you want to reside in. For instance, if you are living in Alameda, but want to shift to San Diego, then in this situation, you have to contact the San Diego Housing Authority.
Right now, California holds 106 housing authorities, that offer or administer section 8 housing vouchers
Step #5: Submit an Application
In the process of applying for the section 8 housing vouchers, your preferred area’s housing authority will help you in filling out your application. There would be a paper application otherwise you can also apply online.
There’s a high demand for housing authorities in California counties and cities. Therefore, the housing authority selects applications to approve for a certain period of the year. You have to keep checking the updates from newspapers and the internet to know when they are accepting applications.
Step #6: Check for Local Preference Qualifications
Waiting sometimes becomes the hardest part. You must check with local public housing authority lists that move certain people up on behalf of their needs. These families may be moved up due to the following reasons:
- The family may be living in below-average housing standards
- The family falls in the extremely poor category
- The family pays 50% or more of its income in rent
- The family is involuntarily banished.
Step #7: Wait for your Result
The housing authority will authenticate the information you have submitted through your application with your bank, employer, or other benefiting authorities. Your eligibility will then be based on these results like if you are eligible for the benefits or how much assistance you will get from the federal program.
- The waiting list is too long, that’s why the housing authorities can close the lists without adding your name to it, even if you get qualified for the program.
- If your name reaches the housing list, then the housing authority will directly contact you knowing that you might be waiting for a long. Make sure to give the updated and complete address to the housing authority with accurate contact information.
- Housing authorities contact the applicants as soon as they have availability to accommodate eligible candidates.
Step #8: Calculate the Amount of your Voucher
On contacting, your local public housing authority will tell you how much your voucher costs and what sized property you can opt for rent. Usually, through the section 8 federal program, you get a certain percentage of your income, so you can pay the rest to meet your needs. Generally, you have to pay 30% of your adjusted gross income for rent and utilities.
- For instance, if you earn $1000 monthly, you will pay $300 in utilities and rent.
- Although it is not limited to $300, you may have to spend more – depending on your situation.
Step #9: Look for the Landlord to accept your Voucher
You can rent any house as long as you stay with certain safety conditions as a recipient of the voucher. You can ask your local public housing authority, they might have listed specific apartments and housing units for the recipients of section 8 vouchers.
When you finally select a place, prepare an agreement before renting it. You must also contact the housing authority for further inspection and record check.
Otherwise, you can check the official website for a list of apartments and buildings that already have passed inspection tests.
What can you do if the waiting list gets too long?
Housing and Urban Development run public housing as well. Using the voucher, you can rent a house from a private lender, on the other hand, with public housing you can rent with the housing authority directly. This might be an opportunity if the section 8 listing is taking too long to release your name.
For this, your eligibility depends on a variety of factors including family size, income, and most importantly your background. Talk to your local public housing authority; they will help you with the public housing application process. Most likely you will be assigned a representative from the housing authority who will further work to collect information and details till your application remains under process.
You may need to provide the following documents:
- Names of the individuals who are willing to live with you in the unit, gender, relationship with you, and age. You must have their birth certificates as well.
- Names, addresses, and contact information of your previous and current landlord.
- Your current telephone number and address.
- Information about your employer, bank, and acquaintances who might be contacted to verify the data you have provided.
- Any other reason that helps you to leapfrog others waiting for their chance. For instance, mention that you are homeless, a veteran, or living a low-standard living.
In any case, you should ask housing authorities if they have any preference for selection. Once the process is completed, you will receive a summon from the housing and development authority to notify you about the results. If your application is denied, then you can request an informal appeal.
By contrast, if your application is accepted, your name takes placed on a waiting list and the authority will contact you when there’s a spot available under your name.