Section 8 refers to the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program for low-income families. Overall, it is designed to help people living in low income housing move to safer and cleaner homes rented through the private market.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds the program, while the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) distributes vouchers. In Georgia alone, 301,800 residents receive rental assistance, 67 percent of which are seniors, children and people with disabilities.
The DCA states that its goals for the Section 8 housing program include: improving the quality of life for low-income families, integrating minority families and people with lower incomes into everyday society and allowing applicants to make their own choices in terms of housing. In addition, the DCA gives property owners a reason to offer low-income families a rental unit.
If you want to participate in this HUD housing program, you must first understand how it works. First, you must apply through your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) and receive approval before being placed on a waitlist.
If you reach the top of the waitlist and you pass a second eligibility test, you may begin searching for a home that meets requirements set by the DCA. To find out how to qualify for the Housing Choice Voucher program and how to apply, continue reading below.
Discover Georgia Section 8 Requirements
The Georgia Section 8 requirements for eligibility state that you must be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident to obtain assistance. You must also live in Georgia to qualify for vouchers through a state PHA.
Besides your citizenship status, the biggest factors in determining eligibility include the size of your family compared to your gross annual income and whether any family members are veterans, children, dependents or seniors. Family members who have a disability will be considered as well.
Section 8 qualifications based on income state that your family’s gross annual earnings must not exceed 50 percent of the median income in your area. If your income does not exceed even 30 percent of the median, you may be considered a priority case. This is because HUD requires all PHAs to offer 75 percent of their vouchers to these very low-income families.
To calculate your gross annual income, combine the annual earnings of every working family member in your household. Do not subtract taxes from this amount, because this is considered net income. If you work as a freelancer or an independent contractor and do not have steady paychecks, you must make an educated estimate of your earnings for the year.
When determining Section 8 eligibility in Georgia, the PHA will also factor in unearned income. This may include:
- Bond interest.
- Certain assets.
On the other hand, unearned income such as foster care payments or adoption assistance are exceptions to this rule. Other payments that count as exceptions include the incomes of minors and the incomes of full-time students who are 18 years of age or older. However, full-time students may have to report their earnings after they reach a certain amount.
Finally, Section 8 housing eligibility in GA depends on whether you can pass a background check. In general, you may not receive assistance if you have been previously evicted from a federally assisted housing unit for drug-related criminal activity or if there are crimes listed on your record that indicate you will pose a threat to other tenants in a building.
How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in Georgia
If you want to fill out a GA Section 8 application, be mindful that the DCA may not be placing new applicants on the waitlist. When the time comes to apply for Section 8, the DCA will publish a notification that preliminary applications are open. You must submit a preliminary application through the online applicant portal to be considered.
When the waitlist closes, the DCA will select preliminary applications using a random lottery system. If you are selected, you will be notified of your position on the waitlist.
After submitting your initial Section 8 housing application, make sure that you have personal information and employment information readily available. You may need to submit the names, ages and Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of your family members, as well as your employer information, current address and phone number.
You may also be required to list contact information for current and previous landlords, indicating whether any family members are veterans or have a disability.
Understanding Section 8 Waiting Lists in Georgia
If you are placed on a Section 8 waiting list in GA, be prepared to have your eligibility re-evaluated. You may be on the waitlist for quite some time, particularly if your PHA recently accepted a large number of applicants. During that time, you may lose eligibility if your income level changes.
It is also important to notify your PHA of any other changes to your situation, including pregnancies or the death of a family member. You have 30 days to notify the PHA of these changes through an update and correction request form. This form is available in both English and Spanish.
If you are concerned about your Section 8 waiting list status, you may contact the DCA. However, remember that you will receive a notification if you reach the top of the waitlist.
Learn About Georgia Section 8 Housing Lists
If the DCA notifies you that you are next in line for vouchers, you may use a Section 8 housing list to begin searching for a new home. These housing lists will display the available homes in your town or county that meet the standards set by the HUD.
When choosing a new home from Section 8 listings, you must remember the following requirements:
- The home must not cost more than your PHA’s designated rent maximum.
- The unit must abide by the HUD rules for safe and sanitary conditions.
- The landlord or property owner must be approved by the DCA.
In addition, the housing selection process may vary depending on your town or county.