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Learn About Section 8 Housing in Tennessee

If your family has a low income, Section 8 in Tennessee may be able to help you afford monthly rent payments. Through this program, you can qualify for low income housing while also receiving vouchers that reduce the amount you owe for rent. To apply, you must meet the income, family status and citizenship requirements. Section 8 housing is funded at the federal level by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). At the local level, it is administered by public housing agencies (PHAs) and other organizations. Locally, the largest of these organizations is the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (TDHA), which serves all of Tennessee with the exception of Davidson, Hamilton and Shelby counties. Below, learn more about HUD housing in Tennessee and discover how you can apply for assistance through your local PHA.

Discover Tennessee Section 8 Requirements

You must meet a variety of Section 8 requirements before you can apply for rental assistance. The most important Section 8 qualifications relate to your income, family status and legal presence in the U.S. First, your income generally must be no greater than 80 percent of the median family income in your area. It is important to be aware that federal law requires PHAs to reserve the majority of their vouchers for families who are classified as extremely low-income. To be in this category, your income generally cannot exceed 30 percent of the median income in the area. Because income levels are different all across the state, your eligibility varies based on the county or metro area where you live. Furthermore, Section 8 income limits are subject to change from one year to the next. Your Section 8 eligibility also depends on whether you meet HUD’s definition of “family.” By HUD’s definition, family is not necessarily the same thing as a household. Even though certain government programs are available to eligible households, you must have an eligible family in order to get vouchers for your rent. With that in mind, a family can be composed of the following:
  • A single person who is elderly, disabled or displaced from home due to government action or a natural disaster.
  • Two or more people, with or without children, who are related to one another through blood, marriage, adoption or another legal action.
Finally, Section 8 housing requirements in Tennessee state that you must be legally present in the U.S. in order to receive vouchers from this program. You are considered legally present if you are a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or an eligible non-citizen. For example, you may be an eligible non-citizen if you have been granted temporary or permanent lawful status. It is possible to meet the Section 8 requirements if some members of your household are legally present, but others are not. In such cases, the amount of assistance you receive is usually determined based on the number of legally present family members rather than the size of your family overall.

How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in Tennessee

You will need to submit a Section 8 application with a local PHA rather than applying through a state-wide service. Because you must apply for Section 8 through a local organization, the exact methods and steps may vary depending on where you live. In most cases, filling out a Section 8 housing application in Tennessee will only get you added to a waiting list. You may be able to complete your initial Section 8 application online by providing minimal details about your family and income. Your pre-application usually determines whether you are eligible to be placed on the waiting list. Once a rental unit is ready for your family, you will need to complete a full application that includes much more detail. It is possible for your application to be denied at either stage of this process if the PHA determines that you are ineligible. You must apply for Section 8 housing through the PHA that covers the county or metro area where you want to live. In most cases, you do not need to live in the area served by the PHA in order to apply there. However, some PHAs may give preference to families who currently live in the organization’s service area. You may always ask about a PHA’s local preferences to improve your chances of getting a voucher.

Understanding Section 8 Waiting Lists in Tennessee

In many cases, there are more people interested in getting Section 8 housing in Tennessee than there are units available. PHAs oftentimes are unable to meet the demand for vouchers, and as a result, may put applicants onto a waiting list. The length of the waiting period can vary based on the number of families moving out of rent-assisted housing as well as the availability of federal funding. In some cases, PHAs will periodically close their Section 8 waiting list when they are no longer able to add new families. As a result, you may need to wait to submit your application during the next open period. Once your application is accepted, you may check your Section 8 waiting list status by contacting the PHA that took your application. Regardless of how long you wait, it is important to be aware that your eligibility for housing will be checked again once your name comes up at the top of the list. With that in mind, you may be denied assistance if you are become ineligible, even if you met the qualifications when you initially applied.

Learn About Tennessee Section 8 Housing Lists

When you are looking for low income apartments for rent in TN, note that vouchers can generally be used to pay rent at any house, apartment, townhome or mobile home that is in safe, sanitary and decent condition. However, be aware that not all landlords or apartment complexes accept vouchers. Using an approved Section 8 housing list will help you find units that are eligible under this program. For example, obtaining a Section 8 housing list from a local PHA is a great way to find a rental unit that accepts vouchers. You can also look for Section 8 listings using resources from the THDA or organizations that serve metropolitan areas in Tennessee.