When monthly bills become too much to bear, low-income rental assistance can save the day. Here’s how to apply for a Housing Choice Voucher to get more breathing room in your budget.
Are you continuously struggling to make rent each month? Do you fear that you’ll eventually get evicted, leaving your family out in the street?
While your situation may be stressful now, the government can give you low-income rental assistance. Previously referred to as Section 8, Housing Choice Vouchers can help you pay the rent so you can stay afloat.
How to Apply for a Housing Choice Voucher
Step 1: Find your local Public Housing Agency
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) distributes federal funds to local Public Housing Agencies (PHA). They then take those funds and use them to distribute vouchers to families in need.
You will be dealing with your PHA throughout the Housing Choice Voucher application process. To find the nearest PHA so you can learn more about available vouchers and start to apply, click here.
Contact your PHA to schedule an in-person appointment. During the call, you can tell them about your housing needs. They will tell you what to bring to the meeting.
Step 2: Complete the Housing Choice Voucher application
The housing counselor you interview with can help you fill out your voucher application.
When filling it out, it’s of extreme importance to be truthful. Omitting information is considered lying, and it can lead to your application getting rejected. Even if you think something may make you ineligible for a voucher, list it on the form to avoid any trouble.
Before your interview, your counselor will prep you on what to bring. Here are some bits of information (and documentation) you may have to submit:
- Current income
- Work history
- Education or training
- Details about people in your household
- Criminal or eviction history
Step 3: Wait for acceptance
If your application is accepted, you probably won’t receive low-income rental assistance right away. Instead, you’ll be put on a waiting list that could last months or years.
You can accelerate the process and spend less time on the waiting list if you:
- Pay more than 50 percent of your income in rent.
- Are homeless.
- Are living in substandard conditions.
If your application is denied, your counselor will tell you why. You can then appeal the denial and turn it into approval.
Step 4: Find housing
Once you have a voucher and are no longer on the waiting list, you will have to find housing that meets HUD standards. An inspector from the PHA will visit the house in person to see that it’s acceptable.
You will have to sign a one-year lease on the HUD-approved property. After the first year is over, you can then move to a month-to-month agreement with the landlord.
Any voucher funds will be released directly to the landlord monthly. You will be expected to pay the rest of the rent on time.
Since this entire process can be lengthy, you should contact your PHA now to get the ball rolling.