The Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly referred to as Section 8, is a federal program that provides rent subsidies to very low-income individuals, seniors and disabled households. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is administered through a local Public Housing Agency (PHA).
The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) is responsible for the program in Michigan, administering approximately 28,000 vouchers to qualifying households.
If you are wondering how Section 8 housing works, the process is fairly simple. Participants receive a voucher or subsidy that covers a portion of their rent. They can choose to remain in their current home or they can find low income housing elsewhere, as long as the unit meets Housing Quality Standards (HQS).
Typically, participants will pay no more than 40 percent of their adjusted gross income for rent and utilities. The vouchers will take care of the rest. Although, the amount a household will pay will depend on their income. Learn more about the government subsidy program in the Sections below.
Discover Michigan Section 8 Requirements
To qualify for rental assistance, you must first meet Section 8 requirements. There are four main factors that determine eligibility:
- Your household’s total gross income
- Your U.S. citizenship status
- Your criminal background
- Whether you qualify as a family as defined by HUD and MSHDA
Section 8 income limits are determined by HUD annually and vary by county. Your household’s gross income refers to the combined yearly income of all working members in your family before taxes. The PHA will compare your household’s income to the amount of people in your family. There are three income levels:
- An extremely low-income family whose income does not exceed 30 percent of the median income for the area or the federal poverty level, whichever is higher.
- A very low-income family whose income does not exceed 50 percent of the median income for the area.
- A low-income family whose income does not exceed 80 percent of the median income for the area.
Keep in mind that these limits are adjusted for family size. Additionally, priority is given to extremely low-income families, meaning they automatically meet Section 8 eligibility. According to MSHDA’s policy, at least 80 percent of families admitted to the program must be extremely low income. The remaining 20 percent can include very low-income families or low-income families who meet additional qualifications.
Once a household has been accepted into the program, it must continue to meet Section 8 qualifications. This includes making rent and utility payments on time, as well as following all rules in their leasing agreement.
In addition to these eligibility requirements, the unit in which a family chooses to live must meet Section 8 housing requirements. All participants will have their units inspected by a MSHDA representative to ensure that they meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS).
How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in Michigan
To apply for Michigan’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, you will need to submit a Section 8 application to MSHDA. This can be done by using MSHDA’s online pre-screening system. There are no paper applications available or accepted. You can call the office to apply via telephone if you cannot apply for Section 8 online due to a disability.
Additionally, applications are only accepted for open waiting lists and preferences are given to those living or working in the county in which they apply. The pre-application makes an initial assessment of a family’s eligibility. Once a household is deemed eligible, they will be placed on a waiting list.
Once the family is selected from the waiting list, they will continue with the Section 8 housing application. This requires providing additional proof of eligibility, such as proof of residency for the county in which they applied.
You may also be required to attend an interview face-to-face with an MSHDA representative. Here, you will provide all of the required documentation to prove your eligibility for the program.
If you do not provide all of the documentation necessary at the time of the interview, you will receive a written list of items that must be submitted within 10 days. You will then be notified of your acceptance or denial into the program within 10 business days of the determination.
Understanding Section 8 Waiting Lists in Michigan
If you are ineligible for the Section 8 waiting list in Michigan, you will receive a written verification within 10 business days informing you of your denial. Otherwise, the MSHDA’s online system will provide an automated written notification immediately after you submit your pre-application that confirms your acceptance on the waiting list.
Keep in mind that placement on the Section 8 waiting list does not indicate a final determination of eligibility. This will be determined once you have been selected from the list. Your number on the list will depend on the date and time you completed your application, as well as any preferences for which you qualify. Preferences include those who are homeless, disabled and live or work in the county of application.
If you claimed a residency preference on your pre-application, you will be required to submit verifying documentation once you are selected from the pool of applicants. The MSHDA will remove you off the waiting list if you are deemed ineligible. You can check your Section 8 waiting list status online on the MSHDA website.
Learn About Michigan Section 8 Housing Lists
The best way to locate an affordable unit that accepts your voucher is to consult a Section 8 housing list. While you have the freedom to choose any dwelling unit that meets HQS, not all landlords will accept vouchers. Similarly, not every rental unit is HUD approved.
To help narrow down your search, ask your local PHA if they have an approved Section 8 housing list. If you already have a certain apartment complex in mind, keep in mind that the unit must meet a specific criteria. A representative from MSHDA will inspect your unit to ensure that it is acceptable before you move in.