I know the wait can be a bit stressful since it usually takes them anywhere from weeks to months for applications to be processed, but you can check on your Section 8 status by contacting your local Housing Offices or PHA.
Section 8 is an affordable housing voucher that is made available for low-income families and individuals, people living with disabilities, and the elderly to provide safe and affordable housing. In many places in the US, there is usually a higher demand for affordable housing than what the government can provide funding for.
This increase in the number of applications each year is usually the cause of the long wait-list that may take up to several years for approval by the PHA.
The Section 8 waiting list takes a much longer time in the cities than in the small towns. Depending on the emergency needs of the applicants, the PHA may determine if one is eligible to be placed on an emergency waiting list to get a faster response.
Once you have qualified and have submitted the application form for Section 8 housing assistance, you are placed on a waiting list.
How To Check Your Application Status After Applying For Section 8
It’s important to keep an eye on the status of your application so that you can act immediately when you get a response from the PHA. Getting a response from the PHA may take quite a while, and many people tend to forget about their application during this waiting period. You can closely monitor the status of your application by taking the following steps:
- Contact the Public Housing Agency where you placed your application. It’s important to contact the same office where you applied because they’ll be better suited to help with your inquiry. So, if you applied in Idaho, for instance, contact the housing authority in that region.
- You can simply ask “Can I check on my Section 8 status?” Usually, they would direct you to the most qualified person to give you an update.
- Alternatively, you can check your application status online via a waitlist check service. Waitlistcheck.com can give you an update on your application if you’re already on the waitlist. Simply log in using your birth year, then type in the password given at your PHA.
- Lastly, you can put a call through to the PHA office to find out your application status. Click on this link to find the specific phone number for the office in your location.
Note that different housing authorities vary in their methods of providing a status update. Some may not provide your specific position on the waiting list but can tell you if you are or are not on the list.
Why Is My Section 8 Taking So Long?
The application for Section 8 may take quite a long while before approval is granted because of the increased number of applications received each year and the limited number of units available. Applicants are usually placed on a waiting list for Section 8 until there is available housing to rent.
Some families and individuals may be placed on an emergency waiting list to prioritize their housing needs depending on their situation, but this is rare and not a constant occurrence. Sometimes, certain PHA offices may stop receiving applications because they are full, and the waitlist may take several years before it gets to your turn.
To get housing assistance quickly, some applicants submit their applications to several PHA offices to be placed on multiple waiting lists for a fast response.
Waiting List Confirmation Letter: What You Need to Know
After submitting your application for the Section 8 waitlist, there are a few things to expect. Although it varies based on the Housing Authority, these are what the steps typically look like:
- You receive a confirmation letter or postcard stating that the Housing Authority got your pre-application form. If you applied online, you will immediately get a confirmation number. If you receive neither a letter nor a postcard several weeks after you submitted your application, then you must contact your Housing Authority, preferably via a call.
- After several months of waiting, sometimes up to a year, you will receive a waiting list confirmation letter stating that your name has been added to the waiting list. Usually, you’re randomly assigned a number on the list, so there’s no guarantee how long you may have to wait before getting on the list. The reason it takes so long is that no applicant can be assigned a number on the list until the waiting list closes, and the pre-application forms have all been logged into the Housing Authority’s system.
- If you change your mailing address while you await your confirmation letter, you MUST inform the housing authority within 30 days or risk having your name removed from the list. If you fail to respond to letters from the Housing Authority at any time, or your letters are returned as undelivered, the Housing Authority will never contact you again.
- Only until your name gets to the top of the waiting list will the Housing Authority begin processing your eligibility for Section 8 assistance. They will begin the checks on your background information, income eligibility, and criminal record. You can find out more about Section 8 eligibility to ensure you meet all the criteria when you make it to the top of the list.
What Should I Do After I Apply to A Waitlist?
After applying and being put on a Section 8 waitlist, there are a few steps you should follow:
- If you have been placed on a waiting list, you should keep a record on hand of the important information you might need, for example:
- Any log-in information if you applied online,
- Which Housing Office you apply with, the date you applied,
- Where you are on the waiting list (if the information is available), and
- Any confirmation number you are given.
- By following the instructions we shared earlier, you can estimate how long of a wait you may be facing by contacting the Housing Office you applied with. If they don’t give you accurate details, you can ask for access to their Annual Plan, which has information about the current number of households on the waiting list and their office’s turnover rate. Unfortunately, sometimes this document isn’t easily available and can only give you a rough estimate of your wait.
- One of the most important steps is to keep checking your waiting list status using any of the options available to you (a phone call, visiting the Housing office, or via the waitlist check website.) Keep all your information up to date, including your contact information and any changes in your income. If a notice is sent to you that requires a response, do so as soon as possible or risk losing your spot. If you applied online, you should constantly check your email for any messages from your Housing office since they will continue to contact you via email.
- When your turn on the waiting list comes around, you will be required to go to a “Final Eligibility Review.” This will be conducted in person. Usually, it’s only the applicant that is required to attend, but they may also ask for the entire household or household adults. You MUST attend at the set date and time or you will risk being removed from the list.
- Last, but not least, after you receive your Section 8 Housing voucher, you can start searching for your new home!
You can also find groups of people on the waiting list like yourself to stay in the know about recent reports and also support each other with extra information. Being placed on the waiting list would require a lot of patience from the applicant before a response can be gotten, and this can lead to you waiting for many years. Try not to give up but stay positive all through the application process.
How to Get Priority on the Waitlist
For applicants to be approved for the Section 8 housing voucher, they are placed on a waiting list, which can take up to several years before a response is given. You may be qualified to be placed on the priority wait-list if you are in one or more of the situations below.
Extremely Low Income
To apply for Section 8, you would need to verify your income status together with your family as well. The Section 8 voucher is available for extremely low-income households, very low-income households, and low-income households. Priority will be given to the households with extremely low-income households on the waitlist.
Those who are experiencing homelessness currently are placed on the priority waiting list as a result of ending homelessness. Check with your PHA office to understand the eligibility requirements for the waitlist for the homeless.
Those Residing in Shelters
Section 8 is made available for low-income families and to take people off the streets into safe housing. If the applicant is living in a shelter currently, he or she is eligible to be placed on the priority waiting list for Section 8.
Have a Disability
Households with a member with a disability are given priority on the waiting list, especially if the current housing situation is not appropriate for the medical condition of the disabled member.
The US considers the elderly to be part of the vulnerable population and prioritizes households with an elderly person over the age of 62 years for affordable housing.
Be a US Veteran
US veterans are particularly prioritized in finding assistance for safe and affordable housing. HUD provides housing assistance for an easy transition for US veterans from their past military life to civilian life.
FAQs About Section 8 Application Status
If you still have questions about your Section 8 application status, we’ve answered the following for you to give you better clarity.
What Should I Do to Make Sure the PHA Can Reach Me?
Many people lose their Section 8 housing vouchers, or their spot on the waiting list because the PHA is unable to contact them. This usually happens when you change your phone number or when you don’t check your email or post mail regularly. This is a very important step on your Section 8 Housing journey!
If you change your phone number or email, contact the Housing office you applied with immediately and let them know of these changes or of the best way to contact you.
Where Is My Local PHA Office Located?
Each State has many PHA offices you can visit or contact, but it might be easier to contact the ones closest to you or the area you would like to live in. If you would like a list of the PHA offices in your state, you can visit the HUD website or press here.
What If I Lose My Job While on Section 8?
As with everything else in Section 8, the best thing to do to keep receiving your benefits is to keep them informed about everything.
Yes, you need some income to be able to pay for your portion of the rent, but if you lose or quit your job, the first thing you must do is let them know that your income situation has changed. It is possible, depending on the circumstances, that they may adjust your rent payments.
If you are receiving a regular unemployment check, keep in mind this is considered income and must also be reported to the PHA. The PHA excludes temporary or non-recurring benefits, but you should still inform them of these as well.
Will Section 8 Also Pay for My Utilities?
Section 8 does help those with extremely low or zero income with utility expenses. The PHA will calculate if you may qualify for utility reimbursement and either send you a check or pay the utility companies directly. The PHA calls this money your “Utility Allowance” and it covers a reasonable amount of your utility expenses.
It is important to note that the PHA will not cover excessive or wasteful utility bills. If you exceed your Utility Allowance you must cover the difference out of your own pocket. If you live in a building and your landlord pays the utility bills for the entire building, you do not qualify for a Utility Allowance.
What Utilities will Section 8 Help Me Pay For?
Section 8 covers utilities, such as:
- Rental of a kitchen range, microwave, and refrigerator
- Trash collection
- Heating fuel
**Section 8 does not cover cable television, telephones, or internet service because they consider them amenities.
How Much Is My Utilities Allowance on Section 8 and Am I Receiving Any?
If you would like to know if you are receiving a Utility Allowance or how much of a Utility Allowance you currently receive, you can do so by either checking if it’s stated on your lease, checking your income recertification paperwork filed each year, or you can request your Utility Allowance amount from your landlord or PHA.
Can My Section 8 Utility Allowance Be Adjusted If I’m Disabled?
If you or someone in your household has special needs due to a disability, you may qualify for a higher Utility Allowance.
For example, if you use any medical equipment that requires the use of electricity, such as an oxygen concentrator or asthma nebulizer, you could receive more allowance to cover the extra electrical expenses these will consume.
Helpful Links for Section 8 Assistance
If you need some links to help you navigate through the HUD Section 8 database, see these below:
Checking the status of your Section 8 application is quite important for you to stay positive and also know your position. Ensure you keep all records of your PHA office and continue to communicate as often as possible with the agency. With this, they become aware of your application and do not accidentally have you removed from the waiting list.