Section 8 is a rental subsidy program overseen at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Also known as the housing choice voucher program, the purpose of Section 8 in New Jersey is to make rental properties affordable for low-income individuals and families, including the elderly and residents with disabilities.
Despite the fact that HUD housing vouchers are part of a federal program, assistance is administered on a state level through the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs). Through this program, a PHA pays a portion of the beneficiary’s rent directly to the landlords. In turn, the tenant will be responsible for the remaining portion of the rent. Moreover, PHAs ensure that every low income housing unit meets the HUD’s health and safety requirements.
Furthermore, applicants are required to meet certain specific eligibility criteria in order to qualify for a Section 8 housing voucher. Then, the application process can begin. Read on for more information about the eligibility and application guidelines in place for this program.
Discover New Jersey Section 8 Requirements
Eligibility is primarily determined by Section 8 income limits in New Jersey. These limits are determined by the area median income as defined by the HUD, and are also coordinated with the size and makeup of a family unit.
In general, an applicant’s income must not exceed 50 percent of the area median income in order for he or she to receive assistance. Moreover, by law, most vouchers will be issued to applicants whose income does not exceed 30 percent of the median.
There are additional Section 8 requirements in New Jersey to consider before applying, such as the criteria for U.S. citizenship/residency and criminal history. As such, only applicants who have U.S. citizenship or acceptable immigration status can apply for Section 8 in the state. Additionally, residents with a criminal history, particularly those who are registered sex offenders, are ineligible for assistance.
Students who no longer live with their parents have to meet additional Section 8 qualifications in order to obtain assistance. In order to meet Section 8 eligibility as a student, he or she must meet one of the following criteria:
- Be at least 24 years of age or defined as an independent student.
- Be veteran.
- Be married or have dependents.
- Be a graduate student.
How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in New Jersey
The Section 8 application process takes place in two steps:
- The pre-application for the waiting list
- Verification of eligibility
You may begin the pre-application online or in person at a local PHA that administers housing vouchers. If you choose to inquire about applying in person, make sure to verify that the PHA you visit works with Section 8, as not all of them do. Additionally, you must check whether the DCA waiting list is accepting new applicants before you attempt to apply for Section 8 in New Jersey.
Typically, a Section 8 housing application requires:
- A background check.
- Information about your household’s income, size and makeup.
- Personal details and contact information.
- Social Security Numbers (SSNs) for each member of the household.
A PHA may not be required to verify these details during a pre-application, because this shorter process is designed to place individuals on a waiting list quickly.
Once your name is pulled from a waitlist, you will be notified by mail by the DCA. The letter will outline what information or documents you need to provide in order to verify your eligibility. Once your eligibility is verified, you will receive your housing voucher.
Understanding Section 8 Waiting Lists in New Jersey
Because the need for rental assistance outweighs the resources available in the Section 8 program, applicants are placed on a waiting list so that they may receive assistance when these resources become available. In New Jersey, the Section 8 waiting list is administered on a state level by the DCA.
More often than not, Section 8 waiting lists are closed so that the DCA can avoid making it too long. Thus, applicants must ensure that the waitlist is open before applying.
As a general rule, simply applying for a waitlist does not guarantee that an applicant will be placed on it. Instead, after filing an application, residents must check their Section 8 waiting list status.
Learn About New Jersey Section 8 Housing Lists
After you receive your housing voucher, you may find a rental unit using a Section 8 housing list. These lists may be provided by local PHAs and are often available online. One benefit to choosing from these Section 8 listings is that the landlord has agreed to work with tenants in the program.
However, you may look for alternative low income apartments for rent online or in newspapers. Just keep in mind that your housing choice must meet the HUD’s health and safety standards and the landlord must agree to work with the Section 8 program.