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How to Find Affordable Apartments

If you’re in need of affordable housing, you may get help from the Section 8 low-income housing program. Also known as the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, Section 8 provides monthly rent assistance to qualifying families.

Section 8 housing assistance is paid directly to landlords on the household’s behalf in order to reduce the household’s overall rental costs. Participants in the program receive a voucher, which they can give to a landlord who also participates in the program. Before you can look for Section 8 apartments or houses for rent, you must apply and get approved for the program.

Section 8 help may not be available right away. If you are approved and your local area has enough funding, you may get assistance immediately. However, if funding is more limited in your area, you may instead be placed on a waiting list. Those on the waiting list will receive Section 8 benefits as soon as funding is available.

Before applying, it is important to understand the eligibility requirements and application options in your area. The program is a federal program with basic requirements, but some guidelines may change depending on your local area.

If you do get approved for Section 8 benefits, make sure to note the amount of money you can receive. This will help you know what you can afford when looking for apartments that accept Section 8 benefits. Planning like this can help narrow down your search and let you find the home that is right for you and your family.

Section 8 Apartments Explained

Section 8 housing include apartments, townhomes and single family homes that have been approved for use in the Section 8 program. Only approved housing units can be rented with Section 8 benefits. The Section 8 program will make sure that the rental property passes certain housing quality standards.

Each unit must be inspected by the local Public Housing Agency (PHA) in order to get Section 8 status, including before a qualifying family moves in to the unit.

How to Know If You May Qualify for a Section 8 Apartment

Section 8 apartments are reserved for low and very low-income families that qualify for assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program. In order to receive benefits, you must qualify and be approved for the program. Importantly, you must have an income that falls under the maximum.

If you have been on the Section 8 waiting list, the program will once again make sure you qualify before you can begin to receive benefits.

You may qualify for Section 8 if:

  • Your family’s income is lower than your local area’s income limit. This is typically 50 percent of the area’s median income, so the dollar amount will depend on the typical income in your area.
  • You and your family are U.S. citizens or hold a qualifying immigration status.
  • You and your family have a good rental history.

You must submit an application for Section 8 benefits through your local public housing agency (PHA) before searching for Section 8 apartments for rent. Most areas will allow you to complete an online application, and may offer other application options such as a mail-in application.

This agency may also inform you of any additional assistance programs or community outreach sources that you may qualify for.

How can I find Section 8 apartments?

If you get approved for Section 8 benefits, you have 90 days to find a suitable rental unit. To help you find a place, your local PHA will have a list of apartments and houses that are approved to receive Section 8 vouchers. The HUD Resource Locator ( is an additional online resource for finding affordable homes.

You may also find a rental unit that is not currently approved for Section 8. In this case, you will just need the landlord to be willing to participate, and you must have the PHA inspect and approve the unit.

When you have a list of potential places, you can choose your favorite by considering factors like your budget, your preferred living location and the amenities you need.

How to Choose an Apartment That Takes Section 8

As you look through Section 8 apartment listings, you should consider the type of unit that you and your family may rent.

To start, review your budget, consider the area that you would prefer to live in and make a list of the different apartment amenities you would like. These may include:

  • Parking spaces (driveway or garage).
  • Included services, such as free cable or internet.
  • Updated appliances.
  • Window or central air conditioning and other amenities for heating if you live in a cold area.
  • Pet allowances.
  • Laundry amenities (either in the unit or on the site).

Some Section 8 apartments may require you to pay a deposit. If there is a deposit, determine whether or not your budget may allow you to meet these deposit requirements. If not, you may look in a different area.

Can I move to a different Section 8 apartment?

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program does permit families to move among apartments that accept Section 8 without losing their benefits.

There is one important condition: Your move must be authorized by your local PHA. If you notify your PHA in advance and you end your current lease appropriately, you may be permitted to move. In this case, you must find new, approved housing in order to continue receiving your benefits.

You are required to live in your current PHA’s jurisdiction for one year. After one year, you may be able to move anywhere within the United states and keep your housing voucher.

Your Responsibilities as a Tenant While Living in Section 8 Apartments

If you are approved for apartments that take Section 8, you will be responsible for upholding Section 8 regulations and abiding by all the rules in your landlord’s lease agreement.

To continue receiving housing assistance from your PHA, you must:

  • Maintain the condition of your subsidized dwelling.
  • Pay your share of the rent on time each month in order.
  • Notify your PHA immediately if there are any changes to your family income or composition.
  • Get permission from your PHA before allowing anyone to move into your home (their eligibility status must also be approved by the PHA).

Failing to maintain property or Section 8 rules could potentially result in a loss of or a reduction to your benefits.