Section 8 housing voucher programs are superb. Once you get on them, you can have very low rent for the rest of your life. For people who are low-income or disabled, this can be a key to long term independence, stability, and survival.
But there’s a catch. It is hard to get on the waiting list. If you are willing to be persistent, it is possible!
Many people just call their local housing authority and get told the waiting list is closed indefinitely, and then give up. Don’t do this!! You will never get on Section 8 this way.
About Section 8
🌸 If don’t know what Section 8 is, you may want to start by learning a little about Section 8 Housing Vouchers.
🌸 Section 8 Vouchers can take many (many!) years to get into. For most people, it is not an immediate solution. It is a good idea to look into other housing programs for the short term, and apply for Section 8 for the future.
Two Kinds of Section 8
🌸 Section 8 Housing Vouchers – These are hard to get. But they are very good!! If you get on this, you can live anywhere (as long as you can convince the landlord to take your voucher). It is hard to get on, but most people who get this stay on for life. If you want to try getting housing vouchers, keep reading this page.
🌸 Section 8 Project-Based / HUD Apartments – These are much easier to get. They are also very good (sometimes!!) You cannot live anywhere. You must live in the building you apply for. Some of the buildings for “elderly” or for “disabled” are very nice, clean, comfortable, and safe. Make sure to call everywhere marked “elderly” even if you are young – they will often accept younger people with disabilities. If you want this type of housing, don’t read this page. Instead read this page: How to Search and Apply for a HUD Apartment
Where to Call To Find Housing Vouchers
🌸 Here’s a list of public housing authorities that administer section 8.
🌸 First call your county housing authority (not all counties have one)
🌸 Next call nearest city housing authority (not all cities have one, most do)
🌸 Next call your state housing authority
🌸 Make sure to call each and every housing authority you can. They have different vouchers available
🌸 Also call housing authorities in neighboring counties or elsewhere in the state. Once again, Section 8 can give you affordable housing for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. It is worth considering relocating.
🌸 If you move to another county for Section 8, and stay there for 12 months, it may be possible to move back where you are and keep your Section 8. This is not true in all places, So please inquire.
🌸 If you want to check out other states, take a look at this site that lists national section eight waiting lists. Warning: This does NOT list all openings. There are many more agencies that offer Section 8 and are not included on this site.
🌸 Be careful about any website that claims to list Section 8 openings. These websites will list some openings. It is a good place to start, but you will miss a lot of opportunities this way.
🌸 If you are a veteran who has experienced homelessness, contact the veterans administration to inquire about their housing voucher programs.
🌸 If you are homeless or at risk, call Homeless resource centers and ask if they have homeless housing voucher programs, or if they know an agency that does. You do not need to be living on the street to be considered homeless. Different programs define homelessness different ways. If you do not have fixed and stable housing, contact homeless agencies in your area and ask if there are any programs anywhere that offer housing vouchers for the homeless, and how they define homelessness.
🌸 Call you local Independent Resource Center and ask if they know of any programs in your area that administer housing vouchers specifically for people with disabilities
🌸 Call local housing nonprofits and ask if they know other agencies in your area that administer housing vouchers, particularly there are sometimes ones disabilities that are not publicly listed and the housing authorities might not tell you about. Dial 2-1-1 on your phone and for contact information for housing and homeless agencies in your area.
🌸 Housing Authority websites – You can also check the websites of your county, city and state housing authority. It is still a good idea to call as well, as you may get more info this way. When you call, make sure to ask when they expect the list to open. Sometimes it will only open for ONE DAY. You need to know when that day will be.
What to Ask
🌸 Are you currently accepting applications for your wait list?
🌸 Do you have any estimate of when he wait list might be available to accept applications? (Important question! Sometimes you can get good info).
🌸 Where can I look to find out when your wait list opens?
🌸 How often has your wait list opened in the past? Does it usually open once a year? For how many days? When was it last open?
🌸 Do you know of any other programs in the area that offer housing vouchers through Section 8 or any other kind of voucher?
🌸 Do you know of any programs that have special vouchers for people with disabilities?
🌸 Some voucher programs give preference to people who are homeless or at risk for homelessness. If this is your situation, ask if there is a way to get priority on the list. Or if there are special programs for people at risk for homelessness.
How to Call
🌸 Be relentless. Call every two hours for as many days as it takes til someone answers. Or you can try leaving a message and seeing if someone calls you back . Don’t get your hopes up that someone will call you back, though.
🌸 If there is no front desk person who answers, go to the staff directory and try to find a housing manager to call directly.
🌸 If the list is closed, call every few months and ask again if it is open or when it will open.
🌸 Once again, call every housing authority separately. The state one has different things available than the city and county ones.
How to apply
🌸 Ask the housing authority for a form to apply.
🌸 Sometimes the initial forms are very simple, and only take a few minutes to complete. Then they follow up at some later point to request more info.
🌸 At some point, you will often need an original copy of both your birth certificate and driver’s license/state id and Social Security card and wages or benefits statement from Social Security.
🌸 You may need these documents at the beginning, or later in the process. Either way, it is best to start getting ready. If you don’t have these two things now, start trying to get them so you will have them when the time comes.
🌸 The deadlines are VERY short. They may suddenly write to you and tell you that you have three days to get them all your ID or you will be dropped!! Make sure to have everything ready for when the time comes.
🌸 Most housing authorities require you to apply in person. If you are unable to do this because of your disability, you can request a disability accommodation. Call and ask them how to get an accommodation. Sometimes they will just grant this to you, or they may ask for a letter from your doctor or copy of medical notes saying you have mobility impairments or cannot travel. (Note: It is real handy to have a generic letter like this on hand and keep copies, so you don’t have to ask your doc for a new letter each and every time you need to do something like this).
🌸 If they tell you that you must come in in person or someone must come for you, this is never true. Do not give up no matter what they tell you. Ask for the person who handles disability accommodations and ask them to put in writing why they are denying your disability accommodation request. If this doesn’t work, ask how to file a disability discrimination complaint and keep asking for supervisors.
🌸 If you move, make sure to let them know your new contact information. Important.
🌸 Make sure to regularly check your mail while you are on the wait list. Again, deadlines are short!
Special Tricks you Might Not Know
🌸 If you have a live-in home aide who takes care of you because of your disability, section 8 will not count that person’s salary when determining rent
🌸 If you have medical expenses, section 8 will not count those expenses when determining rent
🌸 If you have herbs, vitamins, over-the-counter medications, section 8 will not count those expenses, if you can show them a copy of your medical records with these things listed by your doctor
🌸 If you have an emotional support animal, section 8 will not count those expenses (food, vets, litter, etc)
🌸 If your landlord does not accept pets, they may still accept emotional support animals with a doctors letter.
🌸 You do NOT need to live in a special building. You can live anywhere, but you have to convince the landlord, and the place you pick has to meet some specific criteria.