If these trying times have you looking for housing assistance, here are the eligibility basics on what it takes to secure a voucher.
Many states have put a temporary stop to evictions due to lost jobs and income from the COVID-19 outbreak. While this may give you some time to organize your finances, what happens once everything goes back to normal? Getting a new job or replacing lost income may not be that simple, which is why a Section 8 voucher could come in handy.
Since Housing Choice Vouchers can take a long time to process, there’s no better time than now to get acquainted with the program. But instead of discussing what it takes to apply, let’s focus on the requirements to be eligible for Section 8, broken down into four simple steps.
1. Check that you meet the essential Section 8 eligibility requirements.
To be eligible for Section 8 housing assistance, you must be:
- At least 18 years of age.
- A U.S. citizen (or noncitizen with eligible immigration status).
What qualifies as eligible immigration status? Any of the following:
- Lawful permanent resident
- Resident of Guam, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau
- Victim or relative of a trafficking victim
- Registry immigrant
- Conditional entrant
- Person given 1986 amnesty status
2. Confirm that you meet the household income requirements.
The basic rule when it comes to income is that your household must earn less than half of the Area Median Income (AMI) of where you are applying to live.
Gross income (what you receive before taxes and expenses) is used for the calculation. This income limit increases according to the number of people living in your household. Income from the employment of household members under the age of 18 is not included.
You can find income limits in your area by going here. You can also get them by contacting your local housing office.
3. Identify any qualifying preferences your household may have.
Section 8 vouchers have waiting lists that can be quite long. You can move up the list faster than others if you have preferences that apply to your situation, such as:
- Being a local resident.
- Having a household member who is elderly or with disabilities.
- Being homeless or living in substandard housing.
Some waiting lists may be open only to those with such preferences. If these restrictions are in place, you may want to ask for placement on another list to accelerate the process.
4. Beware of disqualifying factors.
The housing agency may reject a voucher application if any of the following apply to you or any household member seeking Section 8 assistance:
- Eviction from HUD housing within the last five years.
- Money owed to a housing authority.
- Termination of assistance by a housing authority for any reason.
Felons with offenses related to drugs, alcohol abuse, or violence may have a harder time getting accepted into Section 8. If a person was evicted from public housing within the past three years for a drug-related offense, they will likely be denied.
If you feel that your household doesn’t meet every single Section 8 requirement, contact your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) before giving up. They may be able to help you kickstart the application process, even if your situation isn’t 100 percent ideal.