If you don’t want to wait years to get your voucher, here are some ways to quickly move up the list.
If you’re unfamiliar with what’s involved in the Section 8 process, here are the basics:
- You think of where you’d like to live.
- You contact the Public Housing Agency (PHA) for that area.You c
- omplete your Section 8 application.
- If you’re approved, you get moved to a waitlist.Once
- your turn on the waitlist comes up, you get your Housing Choice Voucher.
- You find an apartment, single-family home, or townhome to use your voucher on.
- You move in.
- You pay your portion of the rent (around 30 percent of your income).
- The voucher pays the rest.
If that process seems lengthy, it is. But it’s not so much that getting a Section 8 voucher is complicated. Instead, the main issue is that too many people need vouchers, and there aren’t enough of them to go around.
For this reason, it’s not uncommon for some Section 8 applicants to sit on a waitlist for years. And while your voucher could help you immensely once you get it, this long wait time can put you in a bind until that day comes.
Can you accelerate the process to get your voucher quicker? Sure. But that’s not accomplished by paying someone to move you up the list, as that is illegal. Instead, the primary method for moving up the Section 8 waitlist is to use specific preferences PHAs use to give certain applicants priority.
Section 8 Preferences
If any of the following apply to even one person in your household, let your PHA know as soon as possible. The more preferences apply to your situation, the better, as PHAs tend to use point systems to determine who gets to move up the waitlist.
- You live in a shelter – If you live in a shelter, your PHA will likely move you up the list since you’ll be seen as someone needing emergency assistance.
- You’re homeless – Like living in a shelter, this is seen as an emergency housing situation. It’s worth noting that living with friends or family may not be seen as homelessness, however, so check with your PHA for clarity.
- You have a disability – You could get moved up even faster if your current housing negatively impacts the disability. For example, having asthma and living in a home with low air quality could be seen as a danger to your health, helping you move up the waitlist faster.
- You’re 62 or older – Section 8 places a priority on providing safe, affordable housing for the elderly.
- You’re a veteran – To qualify for this Section 8 preference, the veteran must have been honorably discharged from the military.
- You make an extremely low income – Most recipients of Section 8 vouchers fit the “extremely low income” category, meaning their household makes just 30 percent of the area’s median income.
If any of those preferences apply, use them to your advantage. They may not get you a voucher tomorrow, but they can significantly accelerate the process.