Section 8 housing voucher programs are superb. Once you get on them, you can have 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! Please do not call just one or two times and give up. You will almost certainly be told “no.” Keep calling and keep persisting.
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.
Where to Call
🌸 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 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.
🌸 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.
🌸 National Section 8 Websites. There are some commercial websites online that will show you Section 8 openings in your state. From what I have seen, these websites are accurate, but they are NOT complete. I discovered many openings that were not listed on these websites.
🌸 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. For example, I recently saw one website that said the list was closed, but when I called they were able to tell me that it was going to open later this month and the date it would open. It will only be open for FOUR DAYS, so this was incredibly helpful to know.
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. No promises.
🌸 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
🌸 You will often need an original copy of both your birth certificate and driver’s license/state id. If you don’t have these two things start trying to get them now so you will have them when the wait list opens.
🌸 Most housing authorities require you to apply in person. If you are unable to do this, you can request a disability accommodation. Call and ask them how to get an accomodation. Usually it is just mailing them 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).
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.
🌸 You may also wish to look into HUD apartments. HUD apartments are different than Section 8 but they have many of the same benefits and the rent is the same. The only difference is that HUD apartments are located is specific places, and section 8 can be used anywhere. HUD apartments are easier to get into and have shorter waiting lists than section 8. See links below.