Section 8 Guide for the Disabled and Plucky

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Art: Robin Mead.

Section 8 is a government program that can make your rent low. Super low. If you are low-income and disabled, Section 8 can pretty much be the key to staying alive.

If you have ever tried to apply for Section 8, you may have noticed an uncanny pattern: Every single person you talk to will tell you it is impossible. You will hear a nonstop stream of all the ways you will never get it or it will take forever or you will be living the rest of your life in a rat-infested hovel of misery.

We are here to tell you that it is possible to get nice, clean, safe, super-affordable, disability-accessible housing through Section 8. Not always easy, and not always quick (and sometimes you may need to relocate) but definitely possible!

This guide is for people who are looking for nice housing and are not easily discouraged. Or for people who are formerly discouraged, and have now decided to become plucky!

How Section 8 Works

What is Section 8? How does it work? Why do people love it so much? Why do people hate it so much?

Sneak Peek

Can affordable housing be nice? See for yourself!

Finding Places to Apply 

If someone tells you all the waiting lists are closed, or all the waiting lists will take many years, don’t give up. Get plucky!

Feeling Relentless?

Little known tricks and secrets for finding even more housing opportunities:

Elderly or Disabled Buildings

If your family includes at least one adult who is disabled, call all the “senior” buildings and ask if you can apply (even if you are not a senior). Often nicer than other buildings, and often have shorter wait lists:

Contacting Places to Apply 

Be patient. Be plucky. Don’t worry if the first twenty places you call are dead ends. Just keep going down the list:

Applying for the Places You Found

Tips for applying. How to stay out of trouble and what to do if you get into trouble anyway:

Solving Section 8 Mysteries

You may be wondering:

Reasonable Accommodations

Disability accommodations that can help you while applying. Many of these are not needed to put in an initial application. You can make these requests when you reach the top of the waiting list.

Plan Ahead

If applying for a specific building, you might want to put in requests for extra bedrooms at the beginning, so that you get on the wait list for the correct number of bedrooms. For vouchers, you can make the request any time:

Waiting

Get ready!

Success!

Stories from readers about applying:

You’re Approved!

Yay! You got approved. Now there is just a mere one million more little things you’ll want to know and do:


LEARN MORE

Types Of Affordable Housing

Facebook Groups

More Success!

Guides

Policies

Warning

🌸 Some Housing Authorities participate in a program called Moving to Work. If you are in a Moving to Work Housing Authority, your rent may be higher and some of the policies listed on this page may be different.

What Do You Think?

🌸 Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.

🌸 Updated January 2020. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

38 thoughts on “Section 8 Guide for the Disabled and Plucky”

  1. Hello I am disabled and get Social Security disability I have a two bedroom condo that I’ve been living in for six years my adult son is on the voucher with me but he is now is to graduate college and move out of state I am so nervous that when I discontinue him that they will make me move what should I do🙏🏿 Thank you. MS Eve

    Like

    1. Hi sleepy thank you for all your information I have been reading most of your articles I suffer from PTSD I did not read anything about it. Do you think I can apply for reasonable recommendation with the prognosis

      Like

  2. Hello! This guide is so informative and the links are excellent! Thank you! I’m trying to help my disabled and elderly (91 and 88 year old) in-laws apply for section 8.
    The one question I have is, if they are already in a duplex that would accept section 8, would they have to move if/when they were approved if the landlord would work with them? I think a move would not be good for either of them…
    Thank you in advance!

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    1. They could stay where they are. However…. it could take many, many years before they get a voucher that can be applied where they are living now. I would keep other options on the table 🙂

      Like

  3. I have a lot of disabilities after a bad fall down a mountain and have trouble doing forms and such. Is their a service that can assist meI
    i am on disability on SSI. What is the max income that will be considered to qualify?

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      1. Hi Sleepy,

        I have been looking all over for this question to be answered…
        What happens if I file for disability after section 8?
        They made it sound like i could not have 0 income….which would be what would happen during the time to approval.

        Also, what happens if i get denied disability?

        Im struggling so much but keep hanging on while neglecting my health.

        Please advise tia

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        1. Hi Melissa,’

          I’m not sure I understand the question.

          You can apply for section 8 and disability in any order you wish or at the same time.

          Getting denied disability has no impact on section 8.

          In some states, section 8 has a work requirement. In those programs, you’ll need a doctor’s form or letter stating you are disabled to be excused.

          Some buildings or section 8 programs are just for people with disabilities or give a preference. If you are applying for one of those types of programs, you’ll need a doctor’s letter or form stating you are disabled.

          If you are applying to a housing program that requires you to be disabled, you can ask the housing worker for forms. If you are applying to a housing program that doesn’t require this, just go apply.

          Hope it goes great.

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  4. I’d like your advise on where to call/look up on the web to find information.

    I need clarity on regulations about the House Buying Program of Section 8 and disability. I saw wording in the incomplete regulations that were given to me at the time I purchased a home that’first time homeownership” doesn’t apply to those with disability. However, in a brochure they have, the very opposite is written.
    SInce I’m looking to purchase somewhere in the US and not necessarily my county, I’m wondering if there’s any federal regulation on this.
    Where could I go to get complete information on this regulation?

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Sharon,

      I don’t know the regulations for this.

      If you can’t find a specific regulations, you can also make this as a disability accommodation request, an exception to the rule on first time home ownership.

      I’m sorry I really don’t know anything about the home ownership program. It might be worth also looking into whether a different housing authority has any specific requirements that need to be met first. For ex
      ample, I think some of them may require attending classes. So that is another thing you might be able to request an accommodation for.

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    2. PS, you can also look in the administrative plan for any Housing Authority. It is off and on the website or you can request a copy. Sometimes administrative plan will include this kind of information.

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  5. I wish I had known this informative and beautifully designed blog existed when I first applied for and got on SSI and food stamps. My crisis is housing and your section on truly affordable housing without having to be approved for section 8 is very helpful. Every supposedly homeless prevention agency I’ve contacted just hand you a list of rental properties that all have a 2- or 3-year waitlist and it’s required that your income must be 3x the rent. That’s how they get you.

    While I can honestly say I’ve never heard “you’ll never get section 8” or “it’s awful,” I have definitely heard “it takes 10 years unless you’re a veteran or have a family.” The most useful advice I’ve gotten is “Keep your application updated whenever anything changes.” It’s all on computer now so this is relatively easy.

    Another thing I’d like to see under housing is about receiving rental income while you are on SSI, like renting out the spare bedroom in your house. The way I understand it, if you have SSDI this doesn’t affect anything, but if you’re on SSI it does and your benefits could go down. Is this so?

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    1. Hi Aspen,

      I hope you are able to find somewhere good.

      Yes, I believe what you wrote is correct. The rules in this area are a bit confusing. My understanding would be that if you are a homeowner renting out a room, SSI would count that as income AFTER your business expenses. Landlords can write off some expenses.

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      1. Thank you. Is renting out a room in your home also counted as income (reducing benefits) if what you have is not SSI but SSDI, or Social Security benefits from the death of a spouse? Or would that work differently?

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        1. For SSDI and survivor benefits, there aren’t any restrictions on unearned income.

          The only restriction would be on earned income from working. In most situations renting a room in your house isn’t considered earned income, though.

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    2. Hi ,my name is Elizabeth, and I have learning disabilities, borderline intellectual, anxiety,depression illnesses and disorders…i was wondering if your allowed to have an request accomdation for a higher rent standard ? ,if your payment standard is low on your voucher. ..and I live in granbury Texas and theirs no apartments or anything that cost 200~300$ on rent …and I kinda want to stay close to my mom so she can come and check on me,and also many apartments here in granbury have on site community laudary and I don’t use that and won’t! I do have ocd just haven’t been diagnosed with it yet but I can tell I am…and it’s bad ..i am also a germafobe ! So I would like for an apartment to have laudary unit hookups if were possible here in granbury…i doubt it! But yes and I’m 21 don’t know if that matters! But yeah that’s it!

      Like

      1. yes, this page has a section on how to request a higher voucher. it is a tricky request to make, but it can be done. howtogeton.wordpress.com/sample-disability-accommodation-letters-housing/

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  6. SORRY ABOUT THE LARGE CASE LETTERS. MY KEYBOARD JUST STOPPED TYPING SMALL CASE LETTERS. MY CURRENT APT. IS A 2 BEDROOM AS, I HAVE STATED THIS. MY DOCTOR, NUEROLOGIST HAS RETIRED AND I HAVE BEEN TRING TO LOCATE HIM. HOWEVER IT IS IN MY MEDICAL RECORDS WHICH I HAVE IN MY POSSESION. I DON’T KNOW WHY THEY DENIED ME TO HAVE A LIVE-IN AIDE. THEY JUST DID. I EVEN HAD A SEIZURE THAT THROUGH ME DOWN MY APT. STAIRCASE. I WAS ALONE! SHOULD I CONTACT MY CASE WORKERS SUPERVISOR TO FIND OUT WHY I AM PAYING SO MUCH FOR RENT AND ALL UTILITIES WITHOUT A UTILITY ALLOWANCE. IT’S LIKE I AM NOT EVEN ON ASSISTANCE. MY FRIENDS FRIEND HAS 2 CHILDREN LIVES IN A THREE BEDROOM APT. HAS A FULLTIME JOB WITH EXCELLENT PAY. AND SHE PAYS ONLY $200.00 FOR RENT WITH A MONTHLY UTILITY ALLOWANCE CHECK PLUS SNAP AND OTHER RESOURCES. I JUST DON’T GET IT!

    Like

    1. Hi Bonnie,

      If you are in need of a live in aide, you would need to have special forms filled out by you and your doctor. You can ask your case worker for the live in aide forms. There is more information here https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/how-to-have-a-live-in-aide-in-affordable-housing/

      You can certainly request a meeting about your rent, but it sounds to me like the reason is because your landlord has raised the rent? Is that correct?

      The housing authority can’t really stop your landlord from raising the rent.

      I believe your rent would go down if you did any of these things:

      1. moved to an apartment where landlord charged less

      2. got approved for a live in aide

      3. got approved for an additional bedroom for other reasons (if there is a medical need) https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/how-to-request-extra-bedrooms-in-hud-section-8/

      4. got approved for going above payment standard. It is possible to get approved for this while staying in your same home, if there is a disability need: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/payment-standards-hud-section-8-housing-vouchers/

      Hope this helps.

      Like

  7. Unfortunately, My rent has never been $215.00. I have not been able to find any Landlord in my area that will get my rent down to $215.00. Since I have had a Tenant-Based Section 8 HCV (5.5 years) I have been paying over 40% of my total monthly income. My SSI: $261.00, My OPM-Pension: $530.00 TOTAL: $791.00. This does not include utilities. I have to pay all utilities.: gas, elect. water, sewer & garbage. Plus parking fee, renter’s ins. When I was living with a Project-Base Section 8 My rent was $143 plus utilities. I want to move back to Project-Based Section 8. I have to get back on the waiting list for a 1 bedroom and that is a 1.5 year waiting list. The apt. I am in now is a 2 bedroom because when I was issued my voucher there were no 1 bedroom apt. available. My disability is rare and permanent. It is a brain disorder that does not allow me to have any medical devices to support a 2 bedroom apt. request disability accommodation to increase the payment standard on your voucher. However, because my disability does cause me to have seizures, I did ask for a live-in aide. That was denied! My housing authority case worker told me that the landlord can raise the rent up to whatever he wants to. from $825. to $1000. My Current HAP PAYMENT IS: $453.00 My rent payment is:$372.00 TOTAL $825 Plus I pay all utilities. In Oct. my rent is $1000.00. My case worker said she would add 71.00 more, total $524.00 and I would have to pay the rest. Plus all utilities. There goes my monthly income check. I don’t understand why I have to start all over again on the waiting list since I already have a voucher. Do you have any advice? NOTE: I LIVE IN LAYTON, UTAH (DAVIS COUNTY).

    Like

    1. Hi Bonnie,

      A few questions:

      Are you currently in a one bedroom or two bedroom?

      Why was your live in aide request denied? Did the denial letter state a reason? Did your doctor sign the live in aide forms?

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  8. Hi, I am disabled, live alone in a section 8 apt. in Layton, Utah. I am on SSI. My rent went is going from $825.00 to $1000.00, beginning Oct. 1, 2019. Can I and or how to ask SSI for a increase in payment so that I can pay my rent plus all utilities that are not included in my rent. I am paying 47% of rent now and my section 8 case worker tells me that when my rent goes up in Oct. 2019… My portion of rent plus all utilities will be over $600.00. My monthly income is only $791.00. I thought a disabled person on SSI that has section 8 HCV is to pay rent of about $215.00 with utilities included…not separate which I am paying out of pocket. Who do I contact to report this. Forgive me but I am getting screwed!

    Like

    1. Hi Bonnie,

      I think there are two options:

      1. you could move to a different place where the landlord is charging within payment standard. That should make your rent go back down to the $215.

      2. you can put in a request for a disability accommodation to increase the payment standard on your voucher, if you are unable to move for health reasons, or if you are unable to find a place that meets your disability needs. This is an example of someone who made a request to raise payment standard: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/payment-standards-hud-section-8-housing-vouchers/

      How many bedrooms in your apartment?

      Like

  9. If you own your home but rent the Lot that it sits on can you still get section 8 housing voucher ? Also what is the percentage of your income that would go to your housing cost ?

    Like

    1. Hi Sandy,

      I think you can still qualify for a voucher, but I don’t think you can use it on a home you already own, or to just the land beneath it.

      Percentage of income is generally 30%. That includes utilities.

      If you own property or other assets, that increases the amount you pay, but the rules for assets are fairly generous.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I want to take back what I wrote above. I recently read that you cannot get section 8 if you have an ownership stake in a dwelling that is habitable to you. I’m not sure if that is true in all cases, but wanted to mention it in case helpful.

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      2. Sleepygirl,
        I’m in WA, do not work, get child support & a single mom of 1 and have a Section 8 unit. My child just started receiving SSI. My doctor confirmed I am disabled & I submitted that to Section 8. (Rent was reduced). Also, I have applied for SSDI and SSI and will likely receive both.

        Will I lose my section 8 because of this “unearned income” from disability? 😦

        Thank you!

        Like

  10. Well I’ve tried just about everything in these guides I’ve called agencies who gave me numbers of places I already xalked State agencies give me numbers of places that don’t even help people in my situation. I am willing to go anywhere but even that doesn’t help. Even if I could apply long distance I would need a thousand dollars just to rent a uhual and gas.

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  11. HUD is all new to me and confusing. Question, my special needs son receives SSDI. I am his guardian of the person and his estate. He will be moving into supported living in WA state. In filling out the HUD application, my social security number is required but he will not be living in my home, is that standard and why would they want my social security number if the application is for him to live in a supported living home? My son is applying, so is he “the head of household”? Thank you so much for any help you have time to give to me!

    Like

    1. I am sorry I do not know the answer to this. If you have legal guardianship over him, perhaps they require your information since I believe you are the person legally responsible? I do not know the guardianship laws though.

      The other possibility is that you are including your name somewhere it should not be. If you are not intending to live there then your name should not be listed on the application as a household member.

      Like

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