How to Request a Higher Voucher

bird!!

A Guide to Requesting Disability Accommodations
to Go Over Payment Standard
__
Writing by Margaret T
Art by Robin Mead

My son was approved for a Section 8 Voucher. We found an apartment that I thought was the best choice for him, but it was more than $300 above the rent payment standards.

I got a doctor to document that my son had specific medical issues and therefore needed a specific type of living situation. We showed the Housing Authority that the apartment met his specific disability needs and the landlord was willing to work with Section 8.

In the end, the Housing Authority agreed to pay more. My son was able to rent the apartment, and the amount of rent he pays each month did not go up.

Our housing search was a ton of work. I learned a lot of helpful tricks to navigate the housing system, that I hope will help others.

How to Get an Accommodation to Go Over Payment Standard

🌷 First, figure out what special accommodations you need for your disability. Some examples are below. There are lots of possible reasonable accommodations that someone could request. Just make sure you have a doctor who will back you up. And make sure you really need and use the accommodation.

🌷 Then go out and try to find an apartment that that is within the rent guidelines and meets your needs. My son and I kept written notes on every apartment we contacted.

🌷 If the only place you can find is above the rent guidelines, you can contact your Housing Authority to make the case for that specific apartment being necessary given your situation.

🌷 Show that what YOU personally need is not able to be found if you adhere to their guidelines.

Examples of Disability Housing Needs

  1. Within x distance to caregivers or support system
  2. Wheelchair accessible
  3. Local disability services (para-transit, meals on wheels, etc)
  4. Within x distance to current doctor/therapist/treatment
  5. No carpet (allergies/asthma)
  6. A fenced yard (for disabled child with eloping history)
  7. Suitable space for storage/use of medical equipment
  8. Ground floor unit with no stairs
  9. Off street parking or designated handicap parking spot
  10. More Examples of Disability Housing Needs

What We Submitted to the Housing Authority

🌷 A written “reasonable accommodation form” signed by my son’s primary doctor (Ask your Housing Authority for a reasonable accommodations form for a doctor). If possible, your doctor can attach a statement or letter to the form. Here’s a few examples: Sample Letters for Higher Payment Standard

🌷  A second “Request for Reasonable Accommodation” Housing form that I filled out for myself. (Again, ask your Housing Authority for this form). I put in writing the other positive reasons for selecting this apartment. If you wish, you can also attach a letter or statement to the form. Here’s a few examples: Sample Letters for Higher Payment Standard

🌷 Written notes on every apartment we contacted, every landlord and real estate agent we spoke to, and every place we looked at. All possible apartments, and a list of why each would not work for my son. Because my son and I kept written notes on every apartment we contacted, I could easily show hundreds of places we had ruled out. Sample List of Unsuccessful Housing Search

🌷 Landlord packet (Request for Tenancy Approval). These are the forms provided by the Housing Authority and signed by landlord and tenant.

🌷 When the inspector came out to the apartment, we made sure to point out all of the positive features so that he could document that he saw them.

What I Wrote On the Reasonable Accommodation Form

🌷 The accommodation we requested was: “Approve higher/exception payment standard for rent and utilities due to disabilities.”

🌷 The reason this was needed: “To improve access to safe, community based medical/health services and support services that are medically necessary due to highly complex health conditions/disabilities”

🌷 We also noted that a Case Manager from the non-profit agency is aware of these issues and could be contacted to verify.

About Our Search For the Right Place

We used a free non-profit agency that was recommended to us by Section 8, to help find apartments. The agency emailed me possible apartments and I emailed them the status of our search. They were very helpful and were another way to prove that we were actively searching and unable to find an acceptable apartment.

However, in the end, I found my son’s apartment by searching online. The landlord was using a real estate agent to screen all possible tenants. My son and I met with her a couple of times and explained his situation. She was a huge advocate for him.

She presented all tenant offers to the landlord, but pointed out all the positives of renting to my son, over the others— My son really needed a break and would be grateful to get this apartment. His rent would be guaranteed by Section 8 for as long as he lived there. His security deposit would be guaranteed by the State. My son would stay there long term, which would cut down the cost and aggravation of the landlord having to find a new tenant every year or two. And mom is nearby to help as needed. By the time the real estate agent got done explaining, the landlord saw the positive side to going with my son and Section 8.

How much did all of this help adjust my son’s rent?

The apartment we selected was $332/month higher than then the rent guidelines.

The Housing Authority contacted the landlord and negotiated a deal. The landlord came down $75/month. The housing authority raised the voucher by $257/month.

Reader’s Stories

Tulip got a similar accommodation: “I got approved for a voucher that is $200 above the standard payment so that I can be close to my mom, who is my registered caregiver. I had searched diligently for an apartment for about 3 months first, but there were literally no options for me to be near my mom.”

Thanks for Reading

🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters

🌷 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

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

🌷 If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

12 thoughts on “How to Request a Higher Voucher”

  1. I live in Washington state and when the rent is increased your either have to pay it or move. I lived on Section 8 in Illinois and Maryland and never paid more than 30%. This has caused me to have a huge anxiety problem from constantly moving. Is there anything I can do to make my portion stay at the 30% regardless of what the landlord charges? I am disabled at the end of my rope. I even contacted the Governor who emailed me moving companies.

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    1. Yes. If your disabilities would make it too difficult to move or find other housing, you can follow the instructions above to request an exception to payment standard. It will lower your rent to 40%. The Housing Authority will pay the difference.

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  2. I need to request a disability accommodation to get increased utilities. Due to various medical appliances, my electric bill is more than double what they allow. (The allowed amount is deducted from my rent.) Is there a letter about utilities or do I just follow the letter for rent?

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  3. I have been trying to find help on reason accomadation to increase payment standard for home I have been renting under section 8 voucher for 2 years.Is there any examples for RA for increase for home you already live in?

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    1. I requested a RA for exception to payment standards and had doctor letters to verify everything.i just got a letter from my PHA that stated my accomadations was already addressed due to my son receiving a RA for his own room.How does my son needing his own room have anything to do with my own needs and RA to stay in current home that accomadates me.there was no info on the denial letter of how to appeal this or anything.what are my next steps?
      Thanks

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  4. I got my voucher amount increased before I moved in here because I couldn’t find anything as cheap and this place is for elderly and disabled, has an elevator, and is 11 miles from my daughter and grandson. I think, if they had to give me an exception payment standard in order to increase the voucher amount, that I no longer have that. Currently the rent plus utility equals $30 more than the small area FMR. Which is about how much more I’m paying than last year. Do exception payment standards expire?

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