Apartment Guide Editorial Team
how to find section 8 housing

Finding an apartment or a house for rent that accepts Section 8, can make an already stressful hunt that much more difficult. Relax, here’s what you need to know about the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Section 8, and the steps to take to find low-income housing in your area.

Determine Your Eligibility

The Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), is a federal government program that helps Americans who are living in poverty, elderly or disabled  find affordable, safe and fair housing. You must meet the set requirements of family status, income level, citizenship status and eviction history.

Your local public housing agency (PHA), will determine your eligibility for the Section 8 program based on your total annual income and the size of your family. . The program is limited to US citizens and small, specified categories on non-citizens. Visit your local PHA before beginning your apartment search to determine eligibility and the amount of housing payment you will receive.

If the PHA decides that your family is eligible, you’re added to a waiting list, which varies in length and wait-time depending on your local market. The PHA has the ability to add their own preferences for selecting people on the waiting list and they can also close the list completely when it gets too full.

Upon receiving your Section 8 voucher, HUD allows 90 days for residents to find a new place that’s decent, safe, sanitary and will pass inspection prior to moving in.

Gloria Shanahan, Regional Public Affairs Officer for HUD, says housing inspections are regularly conducted.“Each housing authority establishes contracts with landlords in its jurisdiction for apartments, or homes that will abide by [HUD] rules and regulations,” says Shanahan. “Inspections are performed frequently and contracts for individual families are reviewed on an annual basis.”

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Find Your New Home

When searching for an apartment that takes Section 8, organization and pre-planning will help ensure your search goes smoothly. Think about the type of apartment you’re looking for and how soon you need to move. Take into account price, location, safety and other neighborhood attributes as they often give insight into the cost of neighborhood amenities or services.

The PHA must approve the unit and the lease of your selected new home. You will sign a lease with the landlord for at least one year and you may also be required to pay a security deposit. When the lease is up, the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow you to stay on a month-to-month lease.

Know Your Rights

While it’s important to know who to call when you have a concern, HUD says fair treatment is essential when searching for an apartment that accepts Section 8.

Under the Fair Housing Act it is unlawful to:

  • Refuse to rent to you or sell you housing
  • Tell you housing is unavailable when it is available
  • Show you apartments or homes only in certain neighborhoods
  • Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Advertise housing to preferred groups of people only
  • Deny you property insurance
  • Conduct property appraisals in a discriminatory manner
  • Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if it may be necessary for you to fully use the housing. (Where reasonable, a landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move)
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if it may be necessary for you to use the housing on an equal basis with non-disabled persons
  • Fail to design and construct housing in an accessible manner
  • Harass, coerce, intimidate, or interfere with anyone exercising or assisting someone else with his/her fair housing rights

Other things to note: Housing Choice Vouchers are portable, which means you can carry them with you when you move, no matter where you go in the country.

Now that you know how to find an apartment that accepts Section 8, learn 10 important questions to ask during your hunt.

Photo by Robin Spielmann on Unsplash

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