Photo of a skyline view of apartment and other buildings in New York City.

Section 8 Waiting List Trends: June, 2023

Photo of a skyline view of apartment and other buildings in New York City.

Every week, housing analysts from Affordable Housing Online report vital information about Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) waiting list openings to renters in search of low-income housing nationwide.

The data recorded reveals trends on 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.

This report  — which looks at Section 8 HCV waiting list openings in June, 2023 — can be helpful for renters, policymakers, and housing advocates trying to improve access to affordable housing.

Here’s a look at our key findings:

1. June, 2023 was a strong month for Section 8 waiting list openings.

  • Affordable Housing Online found 39 HCV waiting list openings in June, 2023; the most for this month since we started recording this data in 2016. All of these were “scheduled” openings with a set opening and closing date.
  • Last month reversed a steep drop in June waiting list openings since the pandemic. June, 2023 had more than twice the openings than June, 2021 (16); and four times the number than June, 2022 (10).

2. Large housing authorities opened the largest share of Section 8 waiting lists.

  • Almost half (49%) of the June waiting list openings were done by housing authorities with large HCV programs (managing between 1,250-9,999 vouchers).

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

  • 62% of waiting lists were kept open for 7 days or less, and 19% were open for only one day or less.
  • June 2023 waiting lists were kept open an average of 10 days. This is half as much as the previous low of 19 days in 2019, and a fraction of the 57 day average for openings during the pandemic in 2020.

4. Online applications the most common way to apply for Section 8 vouchers.

  • 90% of waiting list openings in June, 2023 used online applications
  • 89% of these waiting list openings with online applications had no other way to apply.
  • Only 4 waiting list openings had the option to apply in person. Only one case limited applications to in-person only.

5. The preference for local residents is the most common

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

59% of June, 2023 waiting lists had a “Local Preference.” 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:

  1. Persons who live or work locally (16)
  2. Persons with disabilities (12)
  3. Seniors (9)
  4. Persons experiencing homelessness (5)
  5. Domestic violence survivors (4) and natural disaster survivors (4)

6. Waiting List openings were most common in the largest states

Section 8 HCV waiting lists were opened in every region of the country in June, 2023. States with the largest populations tended to have more waiting list openings.

Top States for HCV Waiting List Openings (⅔ of all June openings):

  1. NJ (6)
  2. PA & TX (5)
  3. CA (3)
  4. CO, FL, IN, MI, TN (2)

If you’d like to see how June 2023 compares to historical trends, check out 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.