Section 8 in Virginia is a program that you can qualify for if your income is below a certain level and you need help paying for rent. Through this program, you can receive a voucher that reduces the amount you owe each month on rent, making it easier to afford a safe and decent place to live. Many low income housing units accept vouchers from this program, but in most cases, you also have the option to live in any approved rental unit found on the open market.
Section 8 housing is a federal program offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). At the local level, vouchers are distributed by Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) throughout the state. While HUD housing may be federally funded, you must apply for assistance directly through a PHA. Below, learn more about qualifying this program and discover how to apply for help.
Discover Virginia Section 8 Requirements
The main Section 8 qualifications relate to your income, family composition and legal presence in the U.S. Before you can apply, you must prove that you are either a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or a lawfully-present resident. If some members of your household are legally present, but others are not, you may qualify for a smaller portion of assistance.
In most cases, you can meet the Section 8 requirements if you are a temporary or permanent resident as long as you are in the U.S. legally. However, there are some exceptions. For example, you cannot receive assistance from this program if you are an international student who is studying in the U.S.
Next, your Section 8 eligibility is based on your family’s income and assets. The section 8 income limits in Virginia vary based on where you live in the state. In any case, your family’s income usually must be no more than 50 percent of the median family income in your county or metropolitan area.
While most low-income families can qualify, it is important to be aware that PHAs are required by federal law to reserve the majority of their vouchers for families who are considered “extremely low income.” This includes families whose income is no more than 30 percent of the median income in the area.
Section 8 housing eligibility in Virginia is also limited to households that meet HUD’s definition of “family.” While other government programs may be open to households with a more diverse composition, this program is only available to families that meet a specific definition. As far as HUD is concerned, a family can only meet the Section 8 housing requirements if it is composed of:
A single person who is elderly, disabled or displaced from his or her home due to a natural disaster or government action.
Two or more people, with or without children, who live in the same home and are related to one another through marriage, blood or adoption.
How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in Virginia
A Section 8 application in Virginia must be filled out with the PHA that serves the city or county you want to live in. If you are unsure of where to begin, the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA), which oversees PHAs throughout the state, may be able to point you in the right direction. Be aware that there are many different PHAs throughout the state, and each one has its own service area.
Once you have found the correct PHA, you will apply for Section 8 through that organization directly rather than applying through the VHDA. Each PHA has its own Section 8 housing application, which means the exact steps may vary depending on where you apply. In some cases, a PHA will allow you to submit a section 8 application online, but other PHAs may require that you apply in person or by mail instead.
Regardless of the application method you choose, you will generally need to provide the same types of information. A Section 8 application form usually includes the following:
The name, date of birth and Social Security Number (SSN) of each family member in the household.
Information on all sources of income.
A list of assets and resources.
Your current address.
In some cases, be aware that your initial application will only get you placed on a waiting list. This is because most PHAs have more applicants than they can currently serve. If you are placed on such a list, you should expect to submit another application, usually with more detail, once your name is nearing the top of the list.
Understanding Section 8 Waiting Lists in Virginia
Because the demand for Section 8 usually exceeds the availability of vouchers, you may or may not need to wait before you are able to receive a voucher, as mentioned above. When a Section 8 waiting list becomes full, some PHAs may even stop accepting applications temporarily.
In this situation, you will have to wait until the PHA opens its list again. PHAs are required to announce when their waiting list reopens by placing ads in local newspapers, so it is important to keep an eye out if you are waiting to apply.
You may check your Section 8 waiting list status once you have been placed on a list. Be aware that the wait can sometimes be long, lasting months or even years in certain areas. Because factors about your eligibility may change while you are on the waiting list, such as your income or family composition, it is also important that you are still able to meet the requirements when your name comes up. You cannot receive assistance if you no longer meet the qualifications, even if you were eligible when you were placed on the list.
Learn About Virginia Section 8 Housing Lists
Once you receive a voucher, it is helpful to consult a local Section 8 housing list when looking for a place to rent. There are many low income apartments for rent throughout Virginia. While you usually have flexibility in choosing a place, be aware that not all landlords are willing to accept vouchers. Similarly, not all apartments will meet your PHA’s requirements.
To avoid issues, you may try looking specifically for Section 8 listings in your community. Your PHA should also have an approved Section 8 housing list that you may use.
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