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Learn About Section 8 Housing in Illinois

Section 8 is a federal program designed to be a low income housing solution for residents and their families, particularly for the elderly and people with disabilities. General guidelines and practices for the program are specified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). However, the approval of applicants and issuance of vouchers are administered on the local level through Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in Illinois. The program, which is also known as the housing voucher program, is designed so that beneficiaries are only responsible for a portion of their rent. Then, a local PHA will pay the remaining portion of the rent directly to their landlord. The program also ensures that the beneficiaries have safe and clean housing using guidelines and standards set by the HUD. In Illinois, the Section 8 program covers part of the rent for about 97,000 beneficiaries. To learn more about Section 8 in Illinois, read the sections below.

Discover Illinois Section 8 Requirements

Section 8 eligibility is primarily based on a family’s income and its relation in comparison to the area’s median income. In general, a family’s income cannot exceed 80 percent of the area’s median income. Moreover, most housing choice vouchers (HCVs) are reserved for applicants who earn an income that is at or below 30 percent of the median income in a given area. It is important to note that the actual Section 8 income limits may vary slightly, as the HUD recalculates the median area income every year. Furthermore, a family’s financial assets are taken into consideration along with actual earned income. Overall, Section 8 qualifications are not limited to income and assets. For instance, PHAs will also run a criminal background check to ensure that applicants do not have a history of a violent crime and are not registered sex offenders. Finally, all individuals must be able to prove their U.S. citizenship or legal status to obtain any form of Section 8 assistance. In addition to Section 8 requirements set forth by the HUD, PHAs may set their own local preferences to determine when an eligible family may receive assistance. More often than not, families are placed on a waiting list until these resources become available again. Moreover, PHAs are able to move up families or individuals on a waiting list based on their local preferences. For example, a homeless family may receive priority and be placed higher on the waitlist than a family who already has some form of housing available.

How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in Illinois

The Section 8 application process is available through individual PHAs. Despite the fact that the exact application procedure may vary slightly between each agency, the process typically takes place in two steps:
  • Submitting an application and being placed on the waitlist
  • Verifying eligibility after being selected from the waiting list
Unless the PHA has readily available resources, applicants will be placed on a waiting list (read more about this in a subsequent section). Before you apply, make sure that the PHA where you are applying is open for enrollment. Getting on the waiting list is meant to determine eligibility. Therefore, in order to apply for section 8, applicants may be required to provide:
  • Proof of income.
  • Criminal background check.
  • Proof of assets.
  • Social Security Number (SSN) for each member of the household, or proof of acceptable legal status in the U.S.
Once the PHA processes your application, you will be placed on the waiting list. Over time, as resources become available, the PHA will pull names from the waitlist. Once an applicant’s name is selected from the list, the next part of the Section 8 housing application must be completed. The second part of the application process typically includes the verification of eligibility through an interview. During this interview with the PHA, be prepared to bring documentation that proves your income limitations and that you meet any other eligibility requirements. After you are deemed eligible and the interview is complete, you can begin looking for low income housing options that accept Section 8 vouchers.

Understanding Section 8 Waiting Lists in Illinois

It is important to understand Section 8 waiting lists because they play a significant role in the application process. Because the need for low income housing assistance often outweighs the actual resources available to each PHA, waitlists can become long and even come to a temporary close. More often than not, PHAs close their waiting lists when they become too long. As such, if a resident or family is placed on the waiting list, it may be months or even years before their name is selected to receive vouchers. With that in mind, it is important to not only find a local Public Housing Agency that has an open waiting list, but to consider applying for Section 8 through more than one PHA. However, keep in mind that you must rent a property within the PHA’s area for the first year of the Section 8 program.

Learn About Illinois Section 8 Housing Lists

After you receive approval for Section 8 housing vouchers, you are responsible for finding appropriate housing for yourself and/or your family. Nonetheless, whatever home you choose must receive approval from the PHA, which will verify whether the property meets the HUD’s safety standards. Moreover, the landlord of the rental property must agree to receive payment through the housing voucher program. Your search for a home may be easier if you utilize a PHA’s Section 8 housing list, which will contain rental units in your area that the agency has already formed a relationship with and/or approved in the past. Thus, these Section 8 listings typically already meet the safety standards and price requirements of the PHA ahead of time.