Section 8 is a housing assistance program that was established in the Housing Act of 1937. In Colorado and throughout the country, Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) distribute housing choice vouchers to qualified applicants, based on the rules and determinations established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
These vouchers, which are also known as rental certificates, help families who reside in low income housing move into new homes that have been pre-screened with safety and sanitary conditions in mind. PHAs will pay landlords directly, which means that vouchers cover a certain portion of the rent cost. If utilities are not included in rental agreements, PHAs may pay a larger sum of money to even out this cost.
Section 8 housing in Colorado helps 124,600 people, or 63,000 households. 18 percent of recipients are seniors, 26 percent have a disability and 61 percent include families with children. Thus, rental assistance aims to prevent the growth of homelessness every year, and provides families in need with HUD housing assistance and stability.
Discover Colorado Section 8 Requirements
It is important to identify the general Section 8 requirements in Colorado if you want to apply for this type of assistance. Knowing what to expect and what is expected of you will help you better prepare for the application process and determine your chances of receiving these housing vouchers. The three main Section 8 qualifications that determine Section 8 eligibility include:
- Your annual gross income.
- The size of your family and whether any family members are children, dependents, seniors, veterans or have a disability.
- Your U.S. citizenship or legal residency status.
Your annual gross income is the amount of money that you expect to earn over a year, before taxes are taken out of your paychecks. Generally, the income earned by all working family members will be taken into account and combined. If this amount changes, you must report the change to your PHA.
However, certain sources of income will not affect Section 8 eligibility in Colorado, because they will not be factored into your household income. For example, if you receive adoption assistance or regular payments for fostering children, you will not have to count those earnings in your income. However, be mindful that you may still be required to report those payments to your PHA.
Furthermore, family members who are 17 years of age or younger and working part-time or full-time will not have their earnings counted toward the total household income. Moreover, family members who are 18 years of age or older, full-time students and employed may also exclude their incomes from the calculation. However, a portion of their incomes may be considered if they exceed a certain amount in earnings.
In any case, it is also important to check the Section 8 income limits in your area. Generally, your family’s income may not exceed 50 percent of the median income in your town, county or greater area (whichever is taken into consideration by the local PHA). If your income falls below 30 percent, it is much more likely that you will receive assistance. This is due in part to a law that requires PHAs to offer 75 percent of their vouchers to families that fall within this category.
Despite the priority criteria set forth by your PHA, Section 8 housing eligibility may not be guaranteed. This is particularly true if an applicant cannot prove his or her state residency in Colorado and/or citizenship or legal presence in the U.S. Applicants will also be unable to receive assistance if they have committed crimes that show up on a background check.
How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in Colorado
If you are ready to fill out a Colorado Section 8 application, make sure to first get in touch with your local PHA. Then, review the application methods and guidelines that are available in your area. Moreover, because there are several housing voucher programs in the state, you must decide which one to enroll in. These programs include:
- The Family Unification Program (FUP).
- The Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program.
- Project Based Assistance (PBV).
Due to the very high demand for assistance through the housing choice voucher program, many agencies in Colorado have reached their maximum number of voucher allotments and closed their waitlists. Thus, you must check to see whether your PHA is still accepting applications. If it is not, you may be able to apply for assistance in another area, depending on the circumstances.
Sometimes, a housing agency will temporarily re-open its waiting list and accept new applicants. As a result, it may benefit you to contact your PHA and check for updates on a regular basis.
When you apply for Section 8 in Colorado, it is also important to contact your PHA and find out whether it accepts applications in person, by mail or online. Generally, you must submit a hard copy of your filled-out form. Furthermore, be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What are the names, ages and Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of the family members who will live with you in subsidized housing?
- What is your current address, phone number and email address?
- Are any of your family members veterans, seniors, dependents, pregnant or disabled?
- What are the names, phone numbers and email addresses of your current and previous landlords?
- Who is your employer?
After you submit your Section 8 housing application, you may be asked to come in for an in-person interview. This will give the agent working on your case a chance to go over your application, request verifications of certain documents and inform you of your rights and responsibilities. It will also give you a chance to ask your own questions.
Understanding Section 8 Waiting Lists in Colorado
You may be placed on a Section 8 waiting list if your PHA is accepting applications and has deemed you eligible. Unfortunately, it may take a long time for you to reach the top of the waitlist. During that time, you must promptly inform the agency of any changes in your situation, such as:
- New employment.
- Whether a family member gives birth.
- Whether a family member moves out.
Learn About Colorado Section 8 Housing Lists
If you receive a notification that you have reached the top of the waitlist, you may use a Section 8 housing list to browse for a new home in your area. Housing lists will display all the available Section 8 homes in a given town or county. They may include apartments, modest homes, townhouses, condos and other approved forms of housing. Note that the home selection process may vary depending on your PHA.