How You Could Move to the Top of the Section 8 Waiting List

The demand for Section 8 benefits has only increased over the years. Today, average wait times can last between a few months up to several years. Luckily, we have some valuable information for you on how to get to the front of the list.

The Section 8 program – formally known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program – provides low-income families, seniors, and disabled persons with safe, affordable, and sanitary housing opportunities through rental assistance.

This assistance is paid directly to apartments that accept Section 8 on a participating household’s behalf. Do you need rental assistance? Review the information below to learn more about the Section 8 waiting list, including what you can do to try and move up the list more quickly and how to find an open waitlist for low income housing.

How the Section 8 Waiting List Works
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Though the Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federal program, a Public Housing Agency (PHA) manages it locally. Each PHA (also called a Public Housing Administration) processes applications for the program to determine whether or not a household may qualify for Section 8 vouchers. 

Typically, households must meet the following Section 8 requirements 

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a qualifying non-citizen
  • Meet household makeup requirements, such as a family with at least one child, senior citizen, or disabled person 
  • Meet the PHA’s income guidelines

Some Section 8 qualifications, such as Section 8 eligibility income requirements, can vary between PHAs. This is because these guidelines are based on the median income of each area. Generally, the Housing Choice Voucher Program provides assistance to those with incomes up to 50% of the area’s median income level. However, each Public Housing Administration is required to provide the majority of its vouchers to households with incomes that do not exceed 30% of the median income for the area. 

If your Section 8 application has been accepted, you may receive help immediately or be placed on a waiting list until further benefits become available. There is an extremely high demand for housing assistance, so it is not uncommon for families to spend months or years waiting for benefits. 

Most Section 8 waiting lists are ordered chronologically. As a result, families are commonly placed at the bottom of the list once their application has been accepted. Each time a household receives help, your household will climb further up the list. That being said, many PHAs allow certain households to climb the Section 8 waiting list faster if they meet additional qualifications. 

The average amount of time it may take you to move up the housing waiting list depends on a few factors, including: 

  • Where you live 
  • Your local PHA “preferences” 
  • How many Section 8 vouchers are available 
  • The current amount of Section 8 applicants on the waiting list 

The demand for Section 8 rental assistance outnumbers the total available units. Therefore, finding an open waitlist for low income housing can be difficult. Public Housing Agencies commonly close their waiting list after receiving a substantial amount of qualifying applicants. 

Nonetheless, there are several ways you can search for open waiting lists. While you can visit your local PHA or contact them by phone, it may be easiest to look for an affordable housing online waiting list. 

Most PHA websites allow you to check the status of a Section 8 waiting list before you apply. Doing so can give you a better idea of what to expect after submitting your Section 8 application and whether or not your application will be accepted. 

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