After verifying your eligibility for Section 8 housing benefits, you’ll need to submit a Section 8 application. While Section 8 is a federal program, your household must apply for benefits through local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). Each PHA governs benefits towards households living within certain communities or metropolitan areas. That being said, you can apply for Section 8 through multiple PHAs. If you’re able to do so and flexible to where your household lives, applying with multiple PHAs can sometimes help your household receive benefits more quickly.
Depending on your local PHA, you may be able to apply online, over the phone, by mail, or in person. However, most Public Housing Authorities require applicants to apply for benefits in person. After submitting a Section 8 application, the PHA will review your household’s eligibility and may conduct an in-person or by-phone interview. If your household is found eligible for the program, you and your family will either receive help immediately or be placed on a waiting list until help becomes available.
The section 8 waiting list is notoriously long and it’s not always on a first-come, first-serve basis. Public Housing Authorities commonly provide priority to households that meet specific criteria, such as:
- Very low and extremely low income levels
- At least one qualifying veteran within the home
- At least one qualifying disabled person within the home
- At least one qualifying elderly person within the home
- At least one qualifying child within the home
- Minority-based priorities
Each Public Housing Authority may have different preferences, so you should always ask yours about their preferences to see if you qualify for faster benefits. If your household does not meet a PHA’s priority list requirements, you may need to wait longer to receive assistance. In some areas, it is not uncommon for a family to remain on the Section 8 waiting list for months or years before receiving Section 8 benefits.
If you are placed on a Section 8 waiting list, the Public Housing Authority will contact you when benefits become available. Additionally, you can check your place on the waiting list by calling your PHA. If you apply to multiple PHAs, it’s recommended that you notify other Public Housing Authorities that you applied for if you begin to receive benefits elsewhere so that you can be removed from their waiting list. After your household is removed from the Section 8 waiting list, you may need to verify your eligibility with the PHA again. This is more common if your household has been on the waiting list for a lengthy amount of time.