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Section 8 application process – You are not the only one under pressure!

You are under pressure to find affordable housing. But did you know that Section 8 is under pressure to help you too? Although it may seem you can wait quite a while on the waiting list, Section 8 must keep the list moving, accept new and get units leased at a very high percentage rate to keep it’s funding.


It is the federal governments goal that all of the funding allocated to your local Section 8 housing authority is utilized. And that means advancing people off the waiting list and into homes so those funds can be used on rents. In fact,  if the public housing authority’s utilization rate falls under 90 percent, it can lose part of its funding when those decisions are made by the federal government.  See how this happened at Berkeley Housing Authority.

Some Section 8 housing authorities seem to struggle with their waiting list, causing major delays and closures of the list. Here’s why:

  • They fail to determine when people usually leave the program and space opens. For example if their yearly data shows that most tenants leave Section 8 in May they should be ready to fill those spots immediately. But they don’t.
  • Often Section 8 cannot get a hold of families on the wait list or they simply don’t have enough staff and resources to contact and interview the next people on the list.

The number one thing you can do to keep yourself on the Section 8 waiting list and moving up is to make sure you are reachable. If you move, change a phone number, etc… notify Section 8.  And double check that they have the information correct by calling back a second time.

Feel Free to Contact me with any questions. I’ll get back to you ASAP.


Jason Strick

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Written by Jason Strick

A landlord and Section 8 housing and application expert.


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    • As i’ve stated several times on this site, we do not handle section 8 we point you to the housing authorities who do handle it. Ask them.

  1. Hello Mr. Strick,
    Thank you for this informative post. My soon-to-be mother in law has been on a waiting list for her San Diego section 8 application for 5 years! Her daughter and I have moved to Santa Maria and we all want mom to get section 8 in Santa Barbara or somewhere close to Santa Maria. Can you please tell us what has to happen to transfer her application to Santa Barbara County and find housing as soon as possible? This would greatly be appreciated by all of us. Mom is over 74 and is in need of her daughter’s help in many ways.

    Thank you for your response in advance.
    Marty Jones

    • Good question. I can’t honestly say I know the answer to this one…. I would call the Santa Barbara and see if they accept transfers from the San Diego waiting list to their waiting list. My feeling is probably not… therefore I’d recommend you stay on the San Diego list and call them to explain that your mother in law is elderly and see if there is special consideration to move up on the list. There usually is for the elderly. I would try the same with Santa Barbara if they can offer a better situation.

  2. Hi Jason.
    Over the past 10 years since I moved to northern california with 3 young children I have been missing section 8 wait list openings or not winning “lotteries.” Meanwhile I watch people who never work and live from manipulating the system land on lists left and right and even sell their spaces! I am in school full time and working full time and paying $1,400 in rent is a constant struggle since we are on a low single income. HELP!!
    How can I stay alerted to new lists that open up? I need to increase my odds of success and I’m willing to move anywhere within an hour of SF/OAK to make this work. I have to feed my kids and can’t keep up all this cost of housing much longer.
    Thanks for all the info you do post. I appreciate it.


  4. I live with my son (36 years old) and our annual income is around $27,000. I am a senior and receive around $545 net from SS. It’s impossible for us to cover all expenses especially our rent which is around $1,000. Can you tell me if I can be eligible for a section 8 help?
    Thank you

    • You may qualify. Ask your local housing authority. You certainly wouldn’t be high priority.

  5. Hi Jason…quick question – i’m going to be applying for
    section 8 soon and was wondering how having a criminal record would
    effect my chances of receiving section 8. I have a clean record and
    will be applying as head of household, i have a 6 month old
    daughter with my boyfriend (he has the record, including a felony
    charge in Virginia for making a verbal threat over the phone!) 2
    things – would that exclude ME from receiving section 8, or would
    they just say he cannot live with me, and does it matter if the
    felony took place in Virginia and not Massachusetts where we live
    now and will be applying? Also if i decided to conveniently leave
    him off the application and he lived with me could they find out
    and what are the penalties for that? would I be arrested? thanks in
    advance 🙂

    • I would not put him on the application. I doubt they would ever find out he lives there. I’ve seen people in my units come and go that have not been of record.

  6. I have been on the waiting list for a few years and i was
    wondering how long does it take until i’m called. If you get this
    and you write back I have to up date my phone number. Thank you and
    have a blessed day

    • It can take months or years depending where you live. Read my explosive truth about section 8 article for some advice.

  7. I received my voucher in Aug.09 and they froze it in Jan.10, how
    long do you think it will take them to reopen?

  8. i am a single mother with two kids i make 18,632 a year do a qualify for section8, me and my daughter are disable and i get a aid check for my son and i do not work.

  9. During the inspection process, does the units have to be vacant in order for the inspection process to occur? Can you have your belongings there before hand?

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