Learn About Section 8 Housing Lists

The Section 8 housing list is a byproduct of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program.

Those seeking Section 8 rentals must go through the motions of the program, which are enforced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.   But, what exactly is the Section 8 housing list, itself? Approved beneficiaries of the program may be added to the waitlist overseen by the Public Housing Authority (PHA). Since there is not enough government funding serviced through the HUD, approved applicants can find themselves on waitlists that can last months, or even years. However, the demand for low income apartments for rent depends on your city, or even neighborhood. To learn more about Section 8 and how to get a low income apartment, continue on to the sections outlined below. 

How the Section 8 Housing List Works

The Section 8 housing list is an unfortunate outcome of the government-funded Housing Choice Voucher Program. Because there is never enough government funding to supply to everyone who qualifies for the Section 8 program, many approved applicants find themselves sitting on the Section 8 wait list for long periods to come. In fact, some PHAs may even close a wait list, entirely, if there is an extremely large amount of families in need of housing, but not enough housing to fulfill the requests. 

But, what happens if you need access to Section 8 rentals fast, under dire circumstances? Luckily, there is preferential treatment offered to those in immediate need of low income apartment options. A PHA will bump you to the top of the wait list if you: 

  • Are paying more than 50 percent of your earnings in rental expenses. 
  • Are homeless or living in housing that is not safe or up to standard. 
  • Are displaced from your home involuntarily. 

There are no enforcements currently enacted on the Section 8 list surrounding such preferential treatment. It is up to the PHA, itself, to govern accordingly. All PHAs operate differently, depending on the priorities and circumstances of their specific communities. 

If you are seeking low income housing as an approved Section 8 beneficiary, make sure you remain up-to-date on the plans and rollouts of your local PHA. You can keep tabs through your local PHA’s website. This will help you understand if there is a waiting list, the approximate waiting time for a housing choice voucher, if a waitlist is closed and the date in which it may open again. 

If you do not have access to the internet, take the time to look up your local PHA’s phone number. You can call during operating hours to request an update on the Section 8 wait list, as well as your own status on the list. Additionally, if your PHA allows in-office visits, feel free to stop by for a one-on-one conversation surrounding your housing circumstances. 

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How to Find Section 8 Rental Listings

Once your Section 8 wait is up, it is time to start your home search. If you find yourself asking, “How do I find low income houses for rent near me?” you will find several resources at your disposal. First, it is important to note that while your PHA can provide assistance, the search for Section 8 rentals is ultimately in your own hands. When the time comes to find housing, make sure:

  1. You consider several houses, which will help you secure the best housing for the needs of your family and you. 
  2. You keep in mind that your voucher amount is based on your family size and composition, so do not shop for a home that is too small or too large. 
  3. Your home is up to the PHA’s safety and health codes.
  4. Your PHA will approve your home of choice. 
  5. You realize an inspection must be performed through the HUD, and signed off on by your PHA before you can finalize housing. 
  6. You understand that if you move into a home where the rent exceeds your payment standard, legally, you cannot be forced to pay more than 40 percent of your adjusted monthly income in rental expenses. 

Now that you understand the basics surround how to find Section 8 apartments for rent, it is time to get to searching. Unsure of where to find a low income apartment for rent? Consider online resources, such as:

  • Go Section 8: You can visit this housing website that specializes in Section 8 rentals any time of day. Simply plug in your city, state or ZIP code, and you will be able to browse accurate, local results in your area. You can sort through pricing, bedrooms and bathrooms, property types and more. You can create a free tenant account, as well, which will allow new rental listings to hit your email inbox whenever available. 
  • Zillow: Although this platform typically services the free housing market, you may be able to find Zillow homes for rent that take Section 8, once in a while. Although there is not a specific search function dedicated to Section 8, there is a keyword tool you can utilize to add Section 8 to your search. Landlords that offer low income apartments for rent will include this information in their Zillow listings. 
  • Hotpads: Also under the Zillow family is Hotpads. Although Hotpads Section 8 rentals are not easily identifiable by the platform, you can contact the listers for low-cost apartments for rent, and inquire on your own. Simply click the “Contact” button, input your contact information and include a note asking if Section 8 housing vouchers are accepted or not. 

The Section 8 housing wait list is over, so do not allow the stress of finding an affordable apartment for rent take over the experience. Between your local PHA and all of the online resources available, you will be able to sign a new lease, soon, thanks to the help of your Section 8 voucher. If you are still unable to find an apartment or home for rent with Section 8, feel free to contact a realtor for advice on how to proceed in your neighborhood.

Tips to be Financially Ready for an Apartment

  1. Create a Budget. Before looking for an apartment, look at what resources you have. You may use a spreadsheet document or download an app to organize your expenses. This will provide you with a better idea of what your finances look like at-a-glance.
  2. Consider Fees and Deposits. While it is good to know what money you have available to you, knowing how much you can spend is just as important. You will notice during your search that landlords will charge different fees for varying reasons. However, those reasons may not be reasonable to you. Thus knowing what you are willing to spend is crucial.
  3. Have Good Credit. If you do not know what your credit looks like, you should take a look at it immediately. Landlords usually run a credit check to make sure you are reliable and will pay on time. Knowing your credit score can help you obtain your dream apartment. Below are some tools to help you monitor your credit.