In this difficult economic time, it can be difficult to find and maintain a job, pay your bills, and keep a roof over your head. Few people know there is a federal government program called Section 8 Housing that allows the government to pay for a portion of rent for low-income people and families.

The hardest part of Section 8 Housing is finding out information about it and getting an approved home. We created this extensive guide to inform you about the program and how you can use it to help reduce the stress rent has on your life.

What is Section 8 Housing?

In 1974, Congress created Section 8 of the Housing and Community Development act that allowed the government to help people pay for rent through vouchers for suitable houses or apartments. The program is federal, but the local housing authority pays the money to the landlords. There are many resources available for various government programs.

The voucher covers all the rent or a portion of it, depending on the number of people in the home and income guidelines. For the average Section 8 resident, they pay about 30 to 40 percent of the rent and the voucher covers the rest.

Finding information about the program can be difficult and there are many hoops to jump through before acceptance. You need to not only qualify for the program but also find an apartment or house that passes the program’s requirements.

Get Your Information in Order

Rules and regulations for Section 8 housing differs depending on the housing authority. Before applying for the program, find the neighborhood you want to live in, so you know what housing authority to contact. You also need to know how much income comes into the home.

There are maximum income requirements to qualify for the program. The amount depends on the area, but if you fall below it then you may qualify for rental assistance. At least one person within the home must be a legal resident of the U.S. and cannot be on a lifelong sex offender registry, produced methamphetamine within federal housing, and evicted for drug-related reasons.

With all this information, you can now apply for Section 8 Housing.

Getting on the Wait List

There are millions of people using Section 8 housing and even more, people want it. There is only so much money to go around and it’s on a first-come, first-served basis. You’ll need to be part of the waiting list and then keep an eye out for alerts that applications are open.

You’ll need an email address and get alerts from the housing authority. The key is flexibility, and you may be waiting for a year or more. The home you want may not be available when you get your voucher, but you can have the voucher when you seek a new place.

The housing authority needs to send you information, so you’ll need a dependable place to send mail. This can be difficult for someone between homes or who moves from place to place. Ask a friend to use their mailing address or check with churches and shelters if you can use their address. Check-in with them every week.

If you’re someone with health issues and need a place to live quickly, a note from your doctor explaining your situation can move you up the line, especially if they can show your medical condition gets worse because of where you currently live.

What To Do While Waiting

It’s best to be proactive when on a waitlist and don’t just wait for something to happen. Keep records of all your communications between you and the housing authority. It’s important because information can get lost in the bureaucracy. You can also contact the housing authority by phone or email to follow up and show you’re still interested.

It could be months or years before you’re approved for Section 8 Housing vouchers, so do your best to maintain your lifestyle and be patient. It will happen eventually. You can join Facebook groups and learn more about the program from people who are in the same position you are in.

The groups provide solace when hope is gone and can help you keep the faith while the days turn to months. If anything changes such as your income or number of people living in the home, contact the housing authority, and update your application.

You Have the Voucher, Now What?

All the waiting paid off and you’re the owner of a Section 8 housing voucher. Now, what do you do? Your first step is to find a house or apartment to live in. Check the area and look for “for rent” signs or examine the newspaper to see what’s available.

When you look for a home, keep in mind not only about the rent but also utilities. The voucher helps with rent, but not gas, water, and power. You also need to cover the security deposit.

Keep records of every home or apartment you visit, the names of people you talked and dates and times. The housing authority usually has a list of apartment buildings or landlords they work with regularly.

Once you find a home or apartment, provide the paperwork to the landlord and get it back to the housing authority. The authority inspects the home before approval to make sure it meets all requirements.

What If You’re Denied?

If the house you choose is denied, then find out why. There’s not much you can do about it, but you can keep it from happening again in the future. Also, keep in mind there is a time limit on your voucher. It could be anywhere between 60 to 120 days, depending on the housing authority.

If you’ve been looking and haven’t found anything within the time limit, then you can get an extension.

Check Out Section 8 Today

Section 8 housing is a boon to anyone that qualifies for it. It can help you with your rent and give you peace of mind. It may take a while to happen, but it’s worth the wait.

If you want more information about Section 8 vouchers or other housing, then please contact us today.