I, Mark Roemer, understand how expensive it can be to pay rent in this day and age. Over 2 million families in the U.S. earn less than $20,000 per year, which, after daily expenses, is not enough to rent a regular apartment. However, thanks to the government’s rent assistance scheme known as the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, these people can also afford decent apartments on a budget.
Applying for a section 8 apartment is easy, but the waiting period can be very long. Moreover, you’ll need a Section 8 voucher before you can start looking for available apartments in your locality. The first part of this article explains how to search for Section 8 apartments, and the second part demonstrates how to acquire a voucher if you don’t have one.
Determine your budget before you start looking for an apartment. Here are a few things you should ask the local housing authority before settling in on a home:
1. Unit Size(number of bedrooms) – The voucher limits the number of bedrooms you can have in an apartment. Ask the local housing advocate regarding room prices since they have to be cheap if you need multiple units for your family.
2. Utility Cost – People in section 8 apartments often end up with a huge utility bill. Knowing your utility allowance beforehand helps you budget more efficiently. You acquire that information from the housing authority.
3. Security Deposit – Check if there are any state security deposit assistance programs in your area to help you cover the amount.
There are two ways to search for Section 8 apartments. You can either do it online or ask around the neighborhood for available homes. If you are unacquainted with the neighborhood, try the local housing authority for available Section 8 apartments.
If you are searching online visit the following websites:
1. Affordable Housing
2. FaceBook Marketplace
There is a lot of paperwork involved so make sure you double-check everything before signing. Here are a few tips to help you with the application process:
1. Read the agreement – Carefully read the lease agreement. According to housing advocates leases often contain complicated language, and loopholes designed to put the tenant at a disadvantage. It’s advised that you read the lease under the supervision of a lawyer, housing advocate, or a housing authority staff member who can break down the agreement and explain it to you in a simpler manner.
2. Request for tenancy approval – Apply for a lease to your landlord and submit the necessary paperwork. Upon receiving your voucher, you will also get another document containing ‘request for tenancy approval’. Submit this paperwork and a copy of your lease to the housing authority.
3. Inspection – The housing authority sets up a date for inspection once the lease is signed. This is to ensure the house/apartment is in good condition. You can move in once the place passes the inspection.
4. Documentation – Document everything you see. Write down the names of people you are meeting, alongside when and where you are meeting them. Take photos if possible and note down the type and address of the building you want to rent. If someone denies your housing request, note down the reason why they did so.
People usually apply for several hundred Section 8 houses. Documenting everything ensures you are not wasting time chasing false leads.
You need a voucher for Section 8 housing. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind while applying for it:
1. Location – Pick a location and visit the local housing authority of that region. Every region runs on a different set of Section 8 rules so it’s best to investigate beforehand so that you are not caught off-guard during the application process.
2. Income – Section 8 is usually reserved for people under a certain income threshold. Check the income requirements of the housing authority to see whether you or anyone you are living with falls into that category.
3. Immigration – In the case of immigrants at least one person in your household must be authorized to live in the U.S.
4. Criminal History – Every housing authority conducts background checks. You can get approval even if you are on parole. It’s best to discuss such matters beforehand with the housing authority before moving any further.
However, you are not eligible for a voucher if you or someone in your home has been evicted due to drug-related activities, within the past three years. Being on the lifelong sex offender registry also bars you from acquiring a Section 8 voucher.
1. Online alerts – Create an email account and sign up for online alerts on websites whenever there is a vacancy. Apply for any listing that becomes available, as long as you can live in that neighborhood for at least 12 months.
2. Use proper mailing address – If you move around a lot, share the permanent mailing address of a friend or family. You can also ask the local shelter or church to receive your mails. If they agree, you can use their address and check back once a week.
3. No payment – Applying to a Section 8 waiting list is completely free. You can’t pay your way up the list and if someone is asking, then it’s probably a scam.
4. Medical conditions – People with health issues are usually moved up the waiting list by the housing authorities. If you’re sick, ask a doctor to write a note, explaining how immediate housing can assist your condition. Keep a copy and send the other one to the housing authority.
5. Waitlist – Once you’re on the waitlist keep notes on whoever you’re contacting for assistance. Keep in touch with the housing authority to let them know you’re interested and keep applying to more waitlists.
I, Mark Roemer, suggest that you be patient while searching for Section 8 housing. There are millions of people applying for accommodation so maintain a cool head and keep on trying. If you get a house, remember to pay your rent on time, get everything in writing, and in case of problems always visit the housing authority for assistance.