You can get rental assistance from the government via Section 8 (now called the Housing Choice Voucher program) if you’re a low-income household in need. While the financial aid can certainly save the day, there is a problem: The demand.
There are a plethora of low-income families across the country that need rental assistance so they can make ends meet. Unfortunately, the supply of housing vouchers is limited, which leads to long wait times.
We’ll do our best to help you reduce your time on Section 8’s waiting lists with the following tips. Before jumping into that, let’s discuss how long those wait times can be.
How Long Are Section 8 Waiting Lists?
While the HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) holds the funding for Section 8, it disburses those funds to local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs).
The PHAs are the ones who award vouchers, and this is why wait times can vary according to location.
While it can be impossible to give you a Section 8 wait time due to a lack of information, know that it can take months or even years to issue your housing voucher.
As such, you’ll need to do everything in your power to minimize that time.
If you’ve been thinking about applying for Section 8, don’t think anymore and just do it. The faster you apply, the quicker you can get approved and put on to a waiting list.
Know What Gets Preferential Treatment
You can skip other people in the waiting list since some PHAs give preferential treatment for some instances, such as if you’re:
- Paying more than 50 percent of your income towards rent.
- Living in substandard housing.
- A veteran.
- Someone who’s been affected by a natural disaster.
- A victim of domestic violence.
- A local resident.
Your mileage may vary according to where you live, so ask your PHA what gets preferential treatment and let them know if your situation applies.
Update Any Changes as They Occur
If your family composition, income, contact information, or waiting list preferences change, be sure to contact your PHA and let them know.
If you don’t, you could hit a snag in the application process or get kicked off the waiting list altogether. If that happens, you’ll need to re-apply, which will increase your wait time even more.
You want to do your best to stay on top of your application’s status so nothing slips through the cracks. The easiest way to ensure this is to sign up for text message or SMS notifications from Section 8 property owners and your PHA.
By getting notifications directly to your phone as things happen, you can respond ASAP to accelerate the process.
Sign up for as Many Waiting Lists as Possible
You can increase your chances of getting your Section 8 housing voucher in less time by signing up for multiple waiting lists. Your PHA will let you know how to do this, as well as what’s available.
Get an Estimate of Waiting Time
Some PHAs will tell you where you are on the waiting list or approximately how long it will take to get your voucher. This can help you look for housing while you wait and prepare any other necessary moves once your voucher is ready.
Check Your Status
Signing up for notifications can help you be aware of your voucher’s status. If you don’t make that move, however, be sure to check your status manually as frequently as possible.
If you don’t and you’ve been removed from the waiting list due to incomplete information on your application, the need to re-apply will make you wait even longer to receive Section 8 housing.