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Learn How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in California

You may complete a California Section 8 application if you need help paying for rent and you meet the basic requirements. This program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, receives federal funding and oversight from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). However, it is run at the local level by public housing agencies (PHAs). Therefore, you must contact a local PHA in order to receive assistance.

The Section 8 housing application process varies depending on where you live in California. While certain PHAs may accept applications year-round, others will only take new applicants during certain times. After you apply for Section 8 in CA, it is common to be placed on a waiting list due to the fact that PHAs oftentimes do not have enough vouchers for every applicant. Read below to learn more about the HUD application process and discover what information you may need to provide on your form.

When can I submit a Section 8 application in California?

Learning when to apply for Section 8 housing in California is the first step in the process. Generally, each PHA has its own rules regarding when you can submit an application. For instance, some housing authorities will allow you to apply at any time. In such cases, you may submit a Section 8 application form as soon as you need assistance.

Unfortunately, the demand for this program oftentimes exceeds the number of available vouchers. This means that there are typically more people in need of rental help than a housing authority can assist at one time.

As a result, you are not always able to sign up for Section 8 at any time. Most PHAs utilize a waiting list for applicants who cannot receive immediate assistance. In many cases, a PHA will close its waiting list when it fills up. Consequently, you cannot apply for low income housing in CA when your local PHA’s waiting list is closed.

PHAs typically make a formal announcement whenever their waiting lists open or close. If you are waiting to apply for Section 8, it is in your best interest to monitor local newspapers and your PHA’s website for notices about wait lists opening up.

What documents do I need to apply for Section 8 in California?

When you sign up for Section 8 in California, you should be prepared to give the PHA a variety of information and documents. This allows the PHA to verify that you are eligible for assistance. The exact information you need to provide may vary depending on your situation. In most cases, you will need to share details such as your:

  • Name.
  • Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Address.
  • Date of birth.
  • Income.
  • Employment status.
  • Disability information.
  • Veteran status.

If there is more than one person in your household, your HUD housing application should include details on each person who wants rental assistance. The PHA will check this information by asking for any relevant documentation.

For example, you may need to submit pay stubs, tax returns, birth certificates, photo IDs and other paperwork to verify your details. A PHA may also check the information in your low income housing application by contacting employers or other organizations directly.

Tips for Completing the California Section 8 Housing Application

Due to the demand for this program, getting your Section 8 application approved can be challenging. However, certain factors may improve your chances of being approved for a voucher or getting placed on a waiting list more quickly.

Most PHAs will give preferential placement to applicants who meet certain criteria. However, local preferences can vary from one PHA to the next. As a general rule, it is common for PHAs to give preference to applicants who:

  • Are veterans.
  • Are currently homeless.
  • Live in substandard housing.
  • Are involuntarily displaced from home.
  • Live or work in the area served by the PHA.
  • Have a permanent disability.

You can apply for low income housing through any PHA. However, keep in mind that most agencies will give preference to people who already live or work in the area. Therefore, you may be able to receive a voucher more quickly by applying through the PHA that serves your area.

Before attempting to apply for Section 8 in California, you may consider contacting the PHA to learn about any local preferences that may exist.

Understanding the California Section 8 Application Process

The steps for submitting a Section 8 housing application in California will vary from one PHA to the next. Most agencies allow you to apply in person or through the mail. Some PHAs will also provide an online application option. Read the sections below for more information on these different methods.

How to Apply for Section 8 Online in California

Because many PHAs are small organizations, they do not all have websites. However, PHAs that do have websites typically provide an option to fill out the Section 8 application online. Once you locate the online application form from your PHA, simply fill in the required fields and submit your form. The PHA may or may not send you an email notifying that your application has been received.

How to Submit the California Section 8 Housing Application in Person

In order to fill out a low income housing application in person, simply visit your PHA during its business hours. Keep in mind that there are many different PHAs, and while you can apply through any of them, you may receive faster placement if you choose the organization that serves your community.

In any case, be mindful that policies may vary from one organization to the next. For example, a PHA may or may not require an appointment for in-person applications.

How to Apply for Section 8 Housing by Mail

Most PHAs will provide an option to apply for assistance through the mail. You may be able to locate a PDF of the application form on your local PHA’s website, which can be printed and filled out.

Alternatively, you can contact the organization to receive a copy of the correct form by mail. Once the form is complete, simply mail it to the appropriate address that you were provided with.

What happens after I apply for Section 8 in California?

No matter what Section 8 application method you use, it is important to remember that your initial form is oftentimes only used to determine if you are eligible for placement on a waiting list. Then, the local PHA will notify you if you are placed on a waiting list or if you are denied.

Once you are on the waiting list, it is your responsibility to keep your information up to date. Because there are so many applicants, wait lists can be long. You will receive another notification once your name nears the top of the waiting list.

Depending on the situation, you may need to submit another application with more detailed information to complete the process. Learn more about what happens after you apply for Section 8 by reading our guide here.

Different ways you can apply

Some PHAs only let you apply for a housing voucher in person. If you want to apply in person, you have to have the right form. You might be able to find the right form at the PHA office, or on the PHA’s website so you can print it. After you have all your documents and fill out your application, you turn in the documents and application form at the PHA office.

You might only be allowed to apply for Section 8 online through your PHA’s online portal. If you can only apply online, you need to make an account on the portal and fill out the online application form.

You might need to upload your supporting documents here, too. After you finish, you can usually come back to the portal to make changes and see your application status.

Some PHAs will let you turn in your application by mail, especially if you are currently living in another city or state. To apply by mail, you have to ask the PHA for an application, or get one on the website if you can.

After you finish your application, you have to mail the form and supporting documents to the address the PHA tells you. Make sure the envelope has the right address to make sure the PHA gets your application.