What should you do once you finally have that Section 8 voucher in your hands? Keep reading to find out.
If you need help right away, some programs may direct deposit a short-term loan into your bank account.
The long wait is over. Depending on where you applied, you may have waited years to get your Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. Now that it’s here, what’s next? We’ll discuss that now so you can finally achieve your goal of paying affordable rent.
Getting To Know Your Voucher
Your Housing Choice Voucher represents affordable rent and a bit of financial freedom. No longer will you have to pay most of your income to your landlord. Instead, your voucher will limit income paid towards rent to about 30 percent. What’s left will be paid by the Public Housing Agency (PHA) directly to your landlord.
Before you start looking for a place to use your voucher, you should know some essential things. First, your voucher will limit the size of your home. This isn’t necessarily a restriction on square feet, but instead on how many bedrooms it can have. Second, your voucher won’t have a set rent amount. To figure out your potential home’s price range, ask your PHA before you start looking for properties.
While your voucher will pay a large portion of your rent each month, know that you will have to pay any security deposit. The voucher will not cover this expense, so plan accordingly. If you cannot afford a security deposit, look for deposit assistance programs in your state.
What’s an often overlooked expense with Section 8? Utilities. There have been cases where Section 8 tenants forgot to budget for utilities and found their monthly expenses unaffordable. To avoid this issue, ask your PHA what the utility allowance is. You can also ask landlords how much utilities are on average before solidifying anything.
Finding a Home With Your Section 8 Voucher
You can pick between single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments, as your Section 8 voucher provides that freedom. When searching and visiting different properties, take plenty of pictures. Take notes of the following too:
- The property’s address
- The type of building
- The date, time, and place where you viewed the property
- Names and titles of anyone you met
These notes are essential, as you may need them if you feel you were a victim of discrimination.
As for where to find Section 8 housing, you can try sites like Rently, Trulia, Socialserve, Zillow, and even the Facebook Marketplace. You can also use the HUD Resource Locator that will show you Section 8 properties on a map.
Once you find a property that you like, apply for a lease with the landlord. Read through the entire lease. Better yet, get someone from the PHA to read it along with you, so you understand all of the details. If everything’s a go, the PHA will need a copy of the paperwork, which should include a request for tenancy approval.
After you sign the lease, the PHA will set up a housing inspection to ensure the property meets Section 8 standards. If the inspection passes, you’ll be able to move in.