Section 8, which is also known as the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, offers federal assistance to families in need by providing them with vouchers. Qualified applicants may use these vouchers to search for a home in their area that meets the health and safety requirements set forth by the program. Then, vouchers will cover a certain portion of the rent, and beneficiaries will only be expected to cover the remaining monthly cost.
This low income housing program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at a federal level. However, Section 8 in Florida is administered by local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) throughout the state. As of 2019, 214,000 households or 451,000 residents receive assistance in the state. Seniors, children and people with disabilities make up 70 percent of those beneficiaries.
You may want to apply for Section 8 housing in FL if you live in unsafe and/or unsanitary conditions and cannot afford to move to a better home. Overall, it is important to understand the eligibility criteria for HUD housing and the application process, so that you know what to expect. Moreover, be mindful that many PHAs in the state are not accepting new applicants, as vouchers are in very high demand.
Discover Florida Section 8 Requirements
The Florida Section 8 requirements for eligibility are the key to obtaining this type of assistance. If you know what they consist of, you will have a better idea of whether you qualify for these HUD housing vouchers. You may also be able to determine your chances of getting on the waitlist in your area.
Generally, a local PHA will take three main Section 8 qualifications into consideration:
- 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.
To determine your gross income, combine the yearly incomes of every working family member in your household. Do not account for tax deductions, as that would be considered net income.
If you work as a freelancer or hold a job that does not offer steady income, you must make a reasonable estimate of your annual earnings. Throughout the application process, you must report any income changes to your PHA as soon as possible.
Section 8 eligibility in Florida also varies depending on how much unearned income you receive. Unearned income includes investments, savings accounts, bond interests and more. Other forms of unearned payments, such as adoption assistance or foster care payments, will not be counted.
Other forms of income that are excluded from this calculation include money earned by residents who are 17 years of age or younger, as well as earnings from full-time students who are 18 years of age or older. However, be mindful that the income of students who earn over a certain amount may be partially counted.
Section 8 income limits are also a key factor in determining eligibility. If your income falls below 50 percent of the median income in your area, you may qualify for the program. Moreover, your application may be considered a high priority if your family’s income falls below 30 percent.
You will not meet Section 8 housing eligibility if you are not a resident of the state. You must also be able to prove that you are a U.S. citizen or lawfully present in the country, and pass a background check.
How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in Florida
Depending on your local PHA, the process to complete a Section 8 application in Florida can be done online, in person, by mail or by phone. While nearly all PHAs will accept hard copies of an application form, there may be different submission rules depending on the area or county.
Furthermore, your PHA will inform you of whether it is currently accepting applications. Unfortunately, many PHAs are forced to close their waitlists when they reach their voucher allotments. If your local PHA is closed, you may be able to apply for Section 8 through another office. However, if this is not an option for you at the moment, you may consider asking an agent the following questions:
- When do you expect the waitlist to reopen?
- What types of applicants are considered priorities?
- How long should an applicant expect to remain on the waitlist before receiving assistance?
Whether you fill out a Section 8 application online, by phone, by mail or in person, it is important to first gather relevant documents. These may include tax returns, Social Security forms, employment forms and more. Generally, you must submit:
- General information on your family, including the name, age and Social Security Number (SSN) of each family member who will live with you in HUD housing.
- Your current address and phone number.
- The Veteran status of any family members.
- Information on disabilities or severe illnesses in the family.
- The names, phone numbers and email addresses of your current landlord and previous landlords.
- Employer information about every working family member.
Finally, you may be asked to complete an interview. Your interviewer may ask you about information submitted in your application. You may ask about your rights and responsibilities during the process and other questions you may have about the program.
Understanding Section 8 Waiting Lists in Florida
Unfortunately, there is a high chance that the Section 8 waiting list in FL for your particular PHA will be closed. However, you may be able to sign up for updates, which will notify you when the waitlist reopens.
If your waitlist is open and you are approved for housing assistance, you may still need to wait months or even years to receive housing choice vouchers. In that time, you must report any changes in your situation or income level to your PHA.
Learn About Florida Section 8 Housing Lists
If you reach the top of the waitlist, you may use a Section 8 housing list to begin searching for a new home. These housing lists will display all the available HCV homes in your area, such as apartments, small houses, townhouses, condos and other approved housing units.
Remember that you are responsible for selecting a home that meets health and safety guidelines set forth by the HUD, and that the home selection process may vary from PHA to PHA.