The challenging process for Section 8 housing assistance can be discouraging for many applicants who watch time pass by without any help.
The ongoing pandemic brought even more complications to the program, which was already struggling with a shortage of low-income housing units and insufficient federal government funding.
Applicants who need the most help can still be prioritized on the waiting list for emergency Section 8 housing by contacting local public housing authorities (PHA) and providing the required personal information.
Read along to learn how to get Section 8 immediately.
Section 8 Basics: A Primer
Here’s a quick overview of Section 8 and how you can use it for housing assistance.
What Is Section 8?
Section 8 is the Housing Choice Voucher Program that provides housing assistance to low-income families and individuals.
The government program helps applicants pay for single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments that are affordable, safe, and sanitary.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development created Section 8 programs in 1974 and currently manages and funds them.
More than 5 million low-income people receive help from Section 8, the largest national source of rental assistance.
The HUD employs about 2,170 state and local PHAs to assist low-income families and individuals.
How Section 8 Works
Local PHA’s are responsible for issuing rent assistance vouchers to elderly, disabled, and low-income individuals and families who qualify for Section 8 housing.
You can use housing choice vouchers to find houses and apartments, and they also pay for some of the rent.
PHA’s will give you at least 60 days to find a home in any area that meets the program requirements.
You can also use vouchers to help you pay for the home you currently stay in or for mortgage payments to own a home.
Section 8 requires voucher holders to use between 30% and 40% of their monthly income for rent, while PHA’s pay the remaining amount owed to private landlords.
Different landlords might ask you for security deposits, background checks, and other requirements.
It is common for applicants to wait for one or two years until they hear back from a PHA that confirms their eligibility.
Unfortunately, the demand for Section 8 assistance is way higher than what the HUD can actually provide.
Each public housing agency also has a limited amount of vouchers they can distribute.
Who Is Eligible For The Section Housing Choice Voucher Program?
Eligibility for the Section Housing Choice Voucher Program is mainly for people struggling to pay their monthly rent and depends on certain factors that include the applicant’s household size, income level, citizenship status, and eviction history.
Family Status Requirement
The housing authority will consider family size while reviewing your application for rental assistance, but single individuals at least 18 years old may also apply.
Having children is not required for eligibility.
HUD defines “family” as a household consisting of a person or group of people.
Eligible families include at least one household member older than 62, disabled, or displaced by physical damage, government action, or natural disasters.
Tenants remaining in a housing unit after other family members moved out can also qualify.
Income Level Requirement
Families that earn less than 50% of the median income for the area they choose to live in can qualify for Section 8 public housing.
HUD considers three median income levels that vary by location for Section 8 applicants.
Low-income families earn at least 80% of their area’s median income.
Those who make 50% or less of their area’s median income level are considered very low-income families.
Extremely low-income families earn 30% of their area’s median income level.
Forms of income include hourly wages, salaries, child support, lottery winnings, and more.
PHA’s are legally responsible for granting 75% of their available housing vouchers to extremely low-income families.
They can also provide more information about your area’s income levels.
Citizenship Status Requirement
U.S. citizens and non-citizens with eligible immigration status, like Green Cards, can qualify for the Section 8 program.
PHA’s may require you to submit additional documents such as passports, immigration papers, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and more.
Mixed families with eligible and ineligible non-citizen members can also receive assistance, but households with members who can provide their citizenship or immigration status tend to get the most financial support.
Eviction History Requirement
Section 8 does not provide rental assistance to people who received evictions from previous rental properties in the past three years, especially if it involved a drug-related crime.
Households that include one member in a lifelong sex offender registry will also get disqualified.
How To Apply For Emergency Section 8
The Section 8 housing program is a complicated, time-consuming process that frustrates most people, but households that need help immediately can get prioritized on the waiting list.
Applicants should contact their local PHA’s to request an emergency Section 8 voucher that provides quicker assistance if they meet the qualifications.
How Do You Qualify For Emergency Section 8?
Very-low-income senior citizens and disabled people are common recipients of emergency Section 8 housing.
You may also qualify for emergency housing if you can prove that you live under some of these critical conditions.
- You are homeless or reside in a shelter
- Earn extremely low-income
- You are a veteran or have a disability
- Older than age 62
- Your house was destroyed by a natural disaster
- You were displaced from another housing unit
- You are fleeing domestic violence or abuse
Your chances of getting Section 8 emergency housing will increase if you live under more than one of those conditions, but it can still be a lengthy process.
What Is The Quickest Way To Get Section 8?
There is no guaranteed quickest way to qualify for emergency Section 8 housing, but you can help speed up the process by keeping in touch with your local PHA, providing all the required documents on time, and meeting more than one of the conditions mentioned above.
Where Can I Apply For Emergency Section 8?
You can apply for emergency Section 8 housing at your nearest public housing authority offices.
Who Can I Talk To About Emergency Section 8?
Contact your state’s PHA’s to discuss your chances of getting emergency Section 8 housing.
You can also call HUD at (800)955-2232 about getting prioritized on the waiting list.
Emergency Section 8 HUD Housing Choice Vouchers
Those who receive emergency Section 8 assistance will have to choose between two types of housing choice vouchers.
Tenant-based vouchers allow eligible families to choose a housing unit that meets PHA guidelines.
Project-based vouchers assign housing units to eligible families.
Housing assistance privileges are taken away from families who move out of these project-based units.
Additional Emergency And Income-Based Housing Option
Other programs can provide housing assistance if you struggle with the Section 8 application process.
Non-profit organizations, homeless prevention programs, charities, churches, and other agencies can provide housing support during emergencies.
How To Get Section 8 Immediately Application Approved Fast
You should expect a lengthy Section 8 application process, but these tips can probably get you approved for housing assistance faster.
Contact With Public Housing Authority
You should maintain regular contact with your local PHA’s and provide them with a stable email and physical address so they can reach you quickly.
Applying with multiple PHA’s at once is also an efficient way to increase your chances of receiving a housing choice voucher.
Get Ready With Your Papers
Have any documentation ready to show PHA’s that you live under critical housing conditions promptly.
Doctor’s notes that explain your disabilities can also increase your eligibility.
Also, keep records of any communication between you and your PHA.
Waiting List For Section 8 Emergency Housing Choice Vouchers
It is normal for applicants to spend years on the waiting list for Section 8 emergency housing.
You might get prioritized if you show PHA’s that you make a very low income and if they consider your living conditions as highly-critical.
There are no guarantees for anybody on the waiting list to receive housing assistance.
Additional Emergency Housing Options
Churches, charities, independent living centers, and other government agencies might be able to provide you with emergency housing assistance if your local PHA has no vouchers available or if the Section 8 application process is taking too long.
Section 8 housing assistance has always included a lengthy process, and it will stay that way as HUD faces challenges with limited funding and resources for their applicants.
Households that earn very low income and need the most help may qualify for Section 8 emergency housing, which can help them find a living unit quicker.
Emergency housing applicants must provide documents and evidence showing that they live under critical conditions and need help more than others.
Applying with multiple PHA’s and contacting other charitable organizations are great alternatives if the Section 8 emergency housing application process takes too long.
No one is guaranteed to receive housing assistance, but HUD has committed to analyzing every household’s unique situation and helping the ones that really need it.