Section 8 Waiting List Trends: August, 2023

Aerial photo of a community of homes in Arizona.

Every week, Affordable Housing Online’s team of housing analysts reports vital information about Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) waiting list openings to renters searching for low-income housing nationwide.

The data shows where waiting lists have opened recently, the types of housing authorities that are accepting new applicants, and obstacles faced by renters trying to get Section 8 vouchers. It also highlights promising trends, like the growing use of online applications.

This report highlights key findings for waiting list openings in August, 2023. Comprehensive information about each month’s waiting list openings is helpful for policymakers and housing advocates trying to improve access to affordable housing.

Here’s a look at what we found in August this year:

1. August saw a big jump in Section 8 waiting list openings.

  • Affordable Housing Online found 39 new HCV waiting list openings in August, 2023. 
  • All of these were “scheduled” openings with a set opening and closing date. There were also four waiting lists that opened before August and closed during the month.
  • This is more than twice as many August openings as is typical for this month since the pandemic.

2. Large housing authorities in urban areas opened the most waiting lists.

  • Just over half (53%) of August waiting list openings were done by housing authorities with large (1,250-9,999 vouchers) and medium high (500-1,249 vouchers) HCV programs.  
  • Three-quarters (74%) of August waiting list openings were in metropolitan counties.

3. Waiting lists were kept open only a short amount of time.

  • Three-quarters (76%) of August scheduled waiting lists were kept open for seven days or less, and one-quarter (24%) were open for only one day or less.
  • August waiting lists were kept open an average of 5.5 days. This is a fraction of the 57 day average for openings during the pandemic in 2020.

4. Online applications were by far the most common way to apply.

  • 70% of waiting list openings in August, 2023 used online applications
  • 80% of waiting lists with online applications had no other way to apply.
  • Just two waiting list openings had the option to apply in person, and in one of these cases that was the only way to apply.

5. Fewer waiting lists in August used the preference for local residents.

Housing authorities use preferences to give priority to high-need groups in their communities, such as seniors, those with disabilities, or those experiencing homelessness. 

Only one-quarter (26%) of August, 2023 waiting lists had a “Local Preference.” This is half the share of openings with this preference in the two prior months. Use of the “Local Preference” makes it harder for low-income renters living outside an area to get a Section 8 voucher and move into the community, even if they are able to get on the waiting list.

Top Preferences for Waiting List Priority in August, 2023:

  1. Persons who live or work locally (11)
  2. Persons with disabilities (10)
  3. Persons who are employed & Elderly persons (8)
  4. Veterans (7)
  5. Domestic violence survivors (6)

6. Waiting list openings were widely distributed around the country

Section 8 HCV waiting lists were opened in every region of the country in August, 2023; with 27 states seeing at least one waiting list opening. Only Texas had more than a couple of openings this month. With only a couple exceptions, states with larger populations tended to have more waiting list openings.

Top States for HCV Waiting List Openings in August, 2023:

  1. TX (7)
  2. PA & WI (3)
  3. AL, AZ, FL, IN, VA, WA (2)

See how this August compares to historical trends by checking out our annual report — Offline: Limited Access to Section 8 Vouchers During the Pandemic. This report looks at Affordable Housing Online waiting list data from 2016-2020, highlighting the challenges that low-income renters face trying to get rental assistance vouchers.

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