Frequently Asked Affordable Housing Locations Questions
Since Section 8 vouchers are so difficult to get, is there a place to find other housing programs that set rent based on your income?
Yes, there are likely other programs available other than Section 8 and Public Housing. Housing authorities often provide additional housing programs. You can also search our website for your area of interest, and scroll down to the list of affordable housing communities that may have other programs available. Please contact the housing authority or apartment community for more information.
In what areas can you live for Section 8?
While you may apply anywhere in the country, you must live within the jurisdiction of the housing authority providing assistance once you have been notified that you may begin to receive rental assistance.
In regards to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, if you were not a resident of the area you applied to, you must live within the jurisdiction of that housing authority for one year before you are able transfer to a new area, known as porting. If you were a resident of the housing authority's jurisdiction when applying, you may port it to a new area at any time.
For example, if you live in California, and there is a Section 8 HCV opening by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) in Maryland, you must move to that housing authority's jurisdiction to receive rental assistance. But, if you lived in Baltimore, MD when you applied to the HABC Section 8 HCV waiting list, you may port it out of the area at any time after receiving your voucher.
Contact the housing authority in your area of interest to find out more information about its specific jurisdiction. You can search our website for housing authority contact information here.
If you are looking for a unit that will accept your voucher, please read our guide here.
Also, the housing authority you applied through may have information on landlords who accept vouchers. Contact the housing authority office for more information. Please click the link above to search for housing authority contact information.
Where can I apply?
You can apply to open affordable housing rental assistance waiting lists nationwide.
To receive rental assistance in your area of interest, you must apply to an open waiting list managed by a Public Housing Authority that serves that area, or an affordable property's management company or landlord.
Some waiting lists have restrictions on who can apply. For example, the waiting list may only be open for seniors, disabled persons, or other targeted applicants.
If the waiting list you are interested in is closed, you cannot apply at that time, and there are no circumstances that would allow you to apply until it reopens (which may take months or years, depending on the area and housing program).
You may apply to open waiting lists in other areas, but you would have to move to that area to receive rental assistance. There are some things to consider about applying to an area where you don't currently live:
- Be prepared to travel before moving in. Applicants must attend a final in-person interview to receive assistance. And once you have been notified that you may begin to receive rental assistance, you must move to the area or property.
- Many waiting lists have preferences. If applying to waiting lists in other areas, keep an eye out for a local residency preference. This means that persons who live or work within the area would receive assistance before persons who do not qualify for the preference. Qualifying for other preferences may balance out a local residency preference, but local residency preferences tend to be heavily weighed.
- After receiving a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher in another area, it is possible to transfer your voucher after one year of tenancy, but only after certain conditions are met (called porting). Read more about HCV portability here.
Once you know where you want to apply, begin your search for housing here:
The Section 8 and/or Public Housing waiting lists in my area are closed. Are there other affordable housing programs?
If the waiting list is closed in the area you want to apply in, you cannot apply at that time, but there may be other programs available other than Section 8 HCV and Public Housing. Housing authorities often provide additional housing programs. You can also search our website for your area of interest, and scroll down to the list of affordable housing communities that may have other programs available. Please contact the housing authority or apartment community for more information.
Why is the housing authority giving Section 8 vouchers when there are no rentals available, and if there are, they don't take Section 8?
While it is can be difficult for Section 8 voucher holders to find a unit, there are properties and landlords out there that accept Section 8 Vouchers. You can use our website to make your search easier.
If you report a change in your income, will they make you move?
If your income changes, and it is still under the specified income limit for the number of persons in your household, you likely wouldn't have to move. And if your monthly rent is income-based,
your monthly contribution should decrease.
However, if your income change is above the income limit for the number of persons in your household, you may no longer qualify for rental assistance.
If I apply to a waiting list in another state, will they require that I come in for an interview before receiving rental assistance?
Usually, housing offices won't require an in-person interview until your name reaches the top of the waiting list. However, some offices may require an interview immediately upon submitting your application, or schedule an interview at a later date.
Housing office policies also differ on who is required to attend the interview. Some require all household members to be present, while others only ask for either all adult (18+) household members, or just the applicant to attend the interview.
If you apply to a waiting list in an area outside of your current location, you should plan to travel to that location at some point before receiving rental assistance.
What are the requirements to be a Section 8 landlord? Are housing quality standards uniform throughout the country?
This page on HUD's website is a good place to start to learn about being a landlord. The housing quality standards for the Section 8 program are uniform across the country however, since they are interpreted and enforced by thousands of different housing authorities and inspectors, there are large discrepancies in standards from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. To view HUD's standard quality standards, go here. You should be prepared for different interpretation by different housing authorities and even different inspectors within the same housing authority.
Isn't affordable housing supposed to be income based? The property manager said they were affordable housing, but charges all tenants the same monthly rent.
Not all affordable housing programs are operated by having the tenant pay a portion of their income as rent. There are affordable housing programs, such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties, that offer reduced monthly rent. It is likely that the property you are referring to is one of these properties. Your rent is still below the market rate.
My Section 8 landlord keeps upping the rent. What can I do?
If your landlord is upping the rent to an amount that is not affordable, it's time to look for another unit.
We are unable to provide individual housing search assistance.
If you don't have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, but your landlord accepts it, can you rent there?
Yes, you can live in the unit, but you will not receive rental assistance by doing so. To be able to receive any kind of rental assistance, you must go through the application process.
You can obtain a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher by applying through the housing authority that covers the jurisdiction where the unit is located.
Keep in mind that you may only apply to an open waiting list. If the waiting list is closed, you must wait to apply when it reopens. You may apply anywhere in the country, but must move to the jurisdiction of that housing authority once you receive a voucher.
If you have applied and been placed on the waiting list, you must then wait for your name to reach the top, and then you will receive a voucher.
Furthermore, having a landlord that accepts Section 8 vouchers does not automatically allow you to use the voucher for that unit. It must first be inspected and approved by the housing authority that covers your jurisdiction.
Once those steps have been taken, you may then use your voucher in that unit to receive rental assistance.
If I find housing before I get my Section 8 voucher, can I get approved sooner?
No. Finding a unit before receiving your voucher does not have any influence on when you receive your voucher. Once being placed on the waiting list, you must wait until your name reaches the top.
It is also not recommended to search for a unit before your name reaches the top of the waiting list. It may take months or years to get your voucher, and landlords would probably not hold the unit for you.