If you are going through financial hardship, are in jeopardy of losing housing, or recently lost your home, Section 8 is an incredible resource. Any new application is daunting, especially when there is so much at stake at such a stressful time. Here are some tips to guide you through the housing application process.
Important Tips to Guide You as You Apply for Section 8
As much as we wish Section 8 could guarantee the security of everyone’s needs immediately, the application process doesn’t happen overnight. Because of this, you’ll want to have everything handy and know about anything that could potentially put you lower on the waiting list.
Section 8 priority is given to U.S. citizens. Though it is not a requirement to receive housing benefits, it helps if you can show that at least one of your household members is a citizen.
You have to disclose your income as part of the application process. Research the average income level that generally qualifies for assistance according to your local Public Housing Agency (PHA). If you fall within this range, you’re more likely to be approved.
3. Criminal History
As part of the application, you will have to undergo a background check. If a member of your household committed drug-related offenses within the past three years or if they are a registered sex offender, this lowers your chances of receiving housing assistance.
4. Senior Citizens
If you have senior household members you claim as senior citizens, mention this on your Section 8 housing application. Special attention is given to Section 8 applications that indicate there are senior citizens in the household.
5. Health Conditions
If a household member suffers from a health condition that could be improved by a better housing situation, be sure to mention this in your application. For example, you may have a member of your household who is asthmatic, and their condition may improve by changing environments. Request a doctor’s note for this.
6. Have a Reliable Email Address
When you are filling out the application, include a reliable email address. This will help you stay up-to-date on alerts for available Section 8 housing openings. If you were put on the Section 8 waitlist, you can check on the progress of your application online, as well.
7. Watch out for Scams
If you are asked to pay money while seeking housing assistance, especially when it comes to moving up the priority list, do not even entertain it. Section 8 is a strict process, and in no instances should you be paying money to anyone. Most likely, if someone is telling you to pay, it is a scam.
8. Know If You Can Get Priority
See if your situation is considered an emergency situation. Some cases are moved to the head of the waiting list based on circumstances. For example, if your house recently caught fire or if you are running away from domestic abuse, you will get priority. Assess if your situation falls under this category or ask your local PHA.
9. Contact Your Local PHA
A phone call or office visit can make a huge difference, especially if you are in an emergency situation. Take the extra step by contacting your local PHA or reaching out to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Doing this may very well speed up your application process.
10. Complete the Application
This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but we’ll include it anyway: complete the Section 8 application in full. Do not leave any section incomplete. Provide all details that are requested of you so that your PHA can make an informed decision while they go through your application. Follow up questions will only delay the process.
Section 8 is here to help you get back on your feet, give you decent, safe housing, and get you through hardship. However, getting there doesn’t always seem that way. The application process can be hard emotionally, but it is not impossible. Follow these ten tips and making sure you have everything in order going in.