If your family is low income, Section 8 can help alleviate the costs of rent. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is a government subsidy program that provides rental assistance to low income families, the elderly and people with disabilities.
How does the program work? With the help of a voucher, recipients are able to find and maintain low income housing. Typically, tenants are required to pay their rent using up 30 percent of their income. The remaining cost of rent is then covered by funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In Missouri, vouchers are administered through 130 Public Housing Authorities (PHAs).
To receive a Section 8 housing voucher, you must meet income limits and other requirements. The application is a lengthy process and it can take years to receive subsidy from the program. Once you receive your housing voucher, you will be able to live anywhere you like as long as it meets certain standards. Read below to learn more about the federally-funded rental assistance program.
Discover Missouri Section 8 Requirements
To meet Section 8 requirements, you must have a total annual gross income below the income limit in your area, according to your family size. As a rule of thumb, your household’s income may not exceed 50 percent of the median income for the county in which you live. In some cases, your income can go up to 80 percent the median income of your area.
However, PHAs are required to administer 75 percent of their vouchers to extremely low income families whose incomes do not go above 30 percent of the median income. Therefore, the likelihood that you will meet Section 8 qualifications with a moderate income are slim.
Section 8 income limits are established by HUD every year and vary by area. For example, a five-person family in Columbia, MO must have an income that does not exceed 28,410 to be considered extremely low income. On the other hand, a family of five in Butler County, MO must have an income that falls below 26,000 to be eligible for the same category.
In addition to income limits, you must be a U.S. citizen or have legal immigration status to receive a housing voucher from the program. If you received Section 8 in the past or received assistance from another federal housing program, you must be in good standing with that program. For example, being previously evicted from a property can hurt your chances of meeting Section 8 eligibility.
How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in Missouri
In order to apply for Section 8, the waiting list of the county in which you reside must be open. Currently, there are 20 waiting lists that are open indefinitely or do not display a closing date. This includes the Housing Authority of the City of Jefferson and Richmond Housing Authority.
Many counties share the same waiting list. For example, Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC) serves 10 counties. If you live in one of these counties, you can download and print a section 8 application online. You can also visit your local PHA or the OACAC Central Office in Springfield to obtain and submit an application in person.
Otherwise, the application methods for Section 8 housing can differ by your county and the PHA that serves it. If you live in Crook, Deschutes or Jefferson County, you can apply for a housing voucher online.
Other housing authorities require that you come into their office to fill out an application. You may even call to request a Section 8 application via mail.
Keep in mind that this is considered your preliminary application. If you pass this screening process, then you will be placed on a waiting list. Once you reach the top of that list, you will need to further verify your eligibility.
If you meet all Section 8 requirements, then you will receive a notice via mail accepting you into the program. You will most likely be required to attend a briefing where you will be issued a voucher.
Understanding Section 8 Waiting Lists in Missouri
Due to the volume of applicants and the limited housing available, you can expect a Section 8 waiting list to be long. In fact, it is not rare to be on a waiting list for several years. Therefore, it is best to apply to as many PHAs as possible. While PHAs typically give preference to local residents, you may be able to obtain your voucher quicker by applying to lower populated areas.
Additionally, there may be other local preferences that can move you ahead of other families. Depending on your PHA, this may include having children, being homeless or being a veteran.
Nonetheless, it is very important that you frequently check your Section 8 waiting list status. You want to make sure that your contact information remains up to date in case a PHA attempts to get a hold of you.
It is also pertinent that you respond to any notification that you receive from a PHA regarding your application. In efforts to accommodate to needy families, PHAs will update their lists and remove households who are no longer eligible. If you are irresponsive, then you may be removed from your Section 8 waiting list.
Learn About Missouri Section 8 Housing Lists
Once you receive your Section 8 housing voucher, you will be given limited time to find a rental unit with a landlord that accepts it. In addition to finding a unit that meets the HUD’s standards, this can be a challenge.
While a landlord cannot reject you for having a Section 8 voucher, he or she can conduct a private screening to determine your risk as a tenant. This can include a background check or credit report check. Therefore, it may be difficult to prove if you are being discriminated against because of your income.
The best way to narrow your search is to browse through a Section 8 housing list. These are usually provided by your local PHA and contain HUD-approved properties that are owned by landlords who are willing to accept these vouchers.