How to Qualify for Section 8 Housing

Section 8 housing (also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program) is a rental assistance program designed to help low income families find affordable housing in safe neighborhoods. The federal program pays a percentage of the monthly rent directly to the landlord creating a greatly reduced monthly rent amount for the renter. To qualify for the section 8 housing program the family (or individual) must meet certain income and family size criteria.


How to Qualify for Section 8 Housing

Step 1

Prove household income using check stubs and/or tax returns. Income eligibility is based on the area's median income and the size of the household applying for section 8 housing. Income guidelines and program details vary from state to state. Most states have section 8 housing programs for families with incomes ranging from moderate to extremely low. To qualify, your household income should not exceed 50% of the county's median income for a family the size of yours.


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Step 2

Contact your local housing authority. Most states have a local number for inquiries about waiting list openings. You will be prescreened with a few basic questions including the size of your household and the total income for your household. This screening will help to determine if you and/or your family are eligible for emergency assistance (if you are homeless or disabled) which will move your application to the top of the list. If your income appears to fall within the guidelines, the office will send you an application. Once the office has received your application, it will put you on the waiting list while it verifies the information.


Step 3

Once your household has reached the top of the waiting list you will be scheduled for an interview to verify the identities of all individuals listed on the application and complete the application. During this interview the adults in the household must provide photo identification, proof of residence Social Security numbers and copies of birth certificates for all family members who will occupy the home. If you or your family are unable to produce a lease or utility bills, letters from the homeowner verifying that you occupy the home are acceptable. Proof of residence will also be waived if the applicant is currently homeless.



Step 4

Once you are approved for section 8 housing, you are responsible for finding a home that meets Department of Housing and Urban Development standards. If you are currently renting a home and your landlord agrees to accept your voucher, you can stay in your current residence. However, the property will have to pass a HUD inspection prior to being approved for the section 8 program.


Return all requested documentation by the date requested. Failure to return requested documents by the date assigned by a case worker will result in the application being denied and your family's name being returned to the end of the waiting list or removed from it entirely. If you have any trouble obtaining requested information or documentation contact your case worker immediately for an extension.


The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the voucher program, issues this warning: Be very wary of any online site or communication that requires an application fee. Applicants and recipients do not have to pay anything to get into this program.

Things You'll Need

  • Proof of residence

  • Proof of income for all resident family members

  • Birth certificates for all resident family members

  • Social Security numbers for all resident family members



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