What To Expect Once You're On A Section 8 Waiting List

The massive demand for Section 8 housing has forced many counties to implement a lottery system. When Section 8 waitlists open, applicants can submit basic information about their household sizes, income and other relevant factors for review and consideration by the related Housing Authority. In regions with relatively low demand, being waitlisted will only require a bit of patience on the applicant's part and diligent efforts to keep the Housing Authority updated on any changes in residence and interest. In other, densely populated areas, however, getting on a waitlist will require both patience and a bit of luck.

Section 8 Lotteries

In large, densely populated cities, Section 8 housing can be difficult to secure. Prospective applicants will need to submit their information online when the waitlist opens for new applicants. Given the massive influx of new applications that come in during the 24 to 48 hour window in which the waitlist is opened, only a small number of applicants will actually make the list. These applicants are drawn by random lottery and are duly notified of their status by mail.

Section 8 Waitlists In Low-Demand Areas

Section 8 funding can exceed the demand in certain areas, such as in rural or unincorporated territories that are further away from large, city centers. When these waitlists open, all applicants are typically approved and processed according to the availability of funding and appropriate housing. In areas of low-demand for this funding, time spent on a waitlist can be very minimal. Although low demand areas are often considered less than desirable, Section 8 applicants should note that they are only required to live in the counties in which their vouchers are issued for a period one year. After this time, their Section 8 vouchers will be transferable to any city or county in the nation that honors Section 8 funding.

Staying Up To Date

It is important for applicants on the Section 8 waitlist to stay up to date on their status and on their placement on the waitlist. These are factors that are typically addressed in communications sent by the local Housing Authority via regular mail. If you are on a Sec 8 waitlist in any area, you should always keep the Housing Authority up to date concerning any changes in your address or other contact information. If a request for an update on your housing status or housing search is missed, you could be dropped from the waitlist. Due to the limited availability of funding, it is important to always keep the Housing Authority up to date on your desire to receive this funding and your current whereabouts. It is also a good idea to keep written copies of any change of address notifications that you send so that you can prove that a concerted effort was made to keep the Housing Authority informed.

Using A Voucher

Once you reach the top of the waitlist, your funding will be accessible. The Housing Authority will base your voucher upon your family size and your current income and usable assets. Other factors such as local rental costs will be considered as well. The goal of this funding is to minimize the impact that rental costs have on household financial stability and overall life qualities. With a Sec 8 voucher, less of your monthly income will be used to cover your basic living costs, thereby giving you the opportunity to cover other household needs, obtain or repair a vehicle or make other essential purchases. So long as your income stays within the basic guidelines of this federally-funded housing program, your voucher will remain available to you.

Finding A New Home

As a Section 8 voucher recipient, you will have between 60 and 90 days to find a new apartment, townhouse or house. The Housing Authority has strict habitability requirements and thus, it will not pay for residences that lack basic features for habitability such as adequate heating and cooling, proper windows, doors and more. In fact, the Housing Authority will perform a habitability check before approving and releasing any rental monies to your new landlord. Fortunately, most landlords who accept Section 8 vouchers are more than familiar with the stringent standards of the Housing Authority and maintain properties that are capable of passing the related inspections.

Your Sec 8 voucher will cover a portion or all of your rental costs, based upon your income. What it will not cover, however, is your rental deposit. This is money that you will need to save on your own. Some families are able to get additional deposit assistance from secondary housing programs, many of which are also run by the Housing Authority and are federally funded as well. If you need deposit assistance, talk to your case worker about finding a secondary program that can assist with this expense as soon as you get on the Section 8 waitlist.

Following The Rules And Guidelines For Section 8 Funding

Given that Section 8 funding is based upon family size and the income of program participants, changes in any of these areas should be reported to the Housing Authority right away. Section 8 routinely conducts in-home visits to ensure that family sizes have not changed and that landlords are maintaining acceptable living conditions by addressing all property improvements and repairs in a timely and acceptable fashion. If a program participant's income increases significantly and in a permanent fashion, the voucher amount will go down. This could be due to promotion or changes in household size or employment status. Thus, as your ability to pay more of your rent increases, less assistance will be supplied. This ensures that people are able to reach a state of independence and stability without having to overlook essential needs or experience severe financial hardship.

Selecting A Property And A Landlord

The local Housing Authority will have a database of landlords and properties that accept Section 8 vouchers, which makes it easy for participants to find acceptable housing for their families within the allotted time frame. Section 8 housing can also be found through traditional listing platforms including newspaper classified ads and online classified sites. Choosing a landlord who is familiar with this funding can both simplify and expedite the application process.

Section 8 vouchers most be used for homes that are appropriately sized for each family. Your local Housing Authority will tell you which criteria must be met before you start your housing search. You are not limited to renting an apartment with this funding. You can choose a large-sized home with an impressive range of features, so long as this unit is deemed safe, affordable and habitable by your case worker. For many people, this funding is a chance to obtain comfortable, attractive housing without having to spend beyond personal means or put the household at risk for eviction or other finance-related issues.

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