How To Get Section 8 Immediately – A Guide to Fast-Track Approval

Section 8 housing meeting

Finding a safe and affordable place to live is a fundamental right. However, it can seem like an unreachable dream for many people, especially those from low-income families who work hard to make ends meet.

For such people, Section 8 housing assistance is a ray of hope, offering a pathway to secure housing without the burden of unaffordable rent.

Follow our step-by-step approach to apply for Section 8 with efficiency and accuracy. Whether you’re dealing with housing issues right now or trying to plan forward, knowing how to speed up your application can be a lifesaver. 

Let’s start our journey by finding a house you can be proud of.

How To Get Section 8 Immediately

What is Section 8 Housing?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) runs the Section 8 program, which provides rental assistance to ensure that low-income families can afford safe and quality housing.

The system began in 1974 and provides vouchers under the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The program allows people to pick private housing by covering a large percentage of their rent, ranging from 60% to 70%, with the remainder being the tenant’s responsibility.

Section 8 housing assistance might greatly benefit families and low-income individuals having trouble finding affordable homes. Recipients are free to select any housing that meets the program’s requirements, from apartments to single-family homes.

How Much Funding Does Section 8 Give?

There is no set amount of funding through Section 8 for people or families to use toward rent payments. Instead, the PHA sets a payment guideline: the minimum amount needed to rent a reasonably priced home in the area.

People who get assistance usually pay 30% of their monthly adjusted gross income for rent and expenses. If the rent is higher than the average payment, this can sometimes go up to 40%.

Let’s say you live in Los Angeles, California. The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles says that a two-bedroom home should cost at least $2,248 a month. If your monthly income was $2,800 and you were eligible for the program, you would have to pay $840 for rent and bills based on the 30% rule.

What is the Eligibility Criteria for Section 8?

Income, family size, and citizenship or eligible immigration status are the main factors that determine eligibility for Section 8.

To qualify, your household income must not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area where you reside. It ensures that assistance is directed to those who need it most.

However, meeting the income criteria is just the first step. Applicants must also demonstrate that they need housing assistance due to factors such as homelessness, the risk of homelessness, or other urgent housing needs.

Providing accurate and comprehensive information about your family’s composition and financial situation is essential to streamlining the approval process.

Section 8 housing meeting

How to Apply for Section 8: A Step-by-Step Guide

Although the Section 8 application process may appear complicated, it’s completely doable with the right advice. 

First, identify your local public housing agency (PHA), which administers the Section 8 program locally. You can find a list of agencies on HUD’s official website.

Knowing the Eligibility Criteria

Before you start the application process, knowing what to do to be eligible for Section 8 assistance is important. The following thing determines eligibility:

  1. Income Limits: To be eligible, you must show proof of your income. The HUD has set three income-limit tiers for housing choice vouchers: extremely low (30%), very low (50%), and moderately low (80%). Most of the time, your household income shouldn’t exceed 50% of your area’s median income (AMI).
    HUD has an online tool that can help you determine eligibility based on your income or family composition. If you know the requirements, you won’t waste time on an application that doesn’t meet them.
  2. Citizenship: Section 8 eligibility is restricted to U.S. citizens and non-citizens who meet specific immigrant categories.
  3. Family Status: To be eligible for Section 8, a single person or group of people must meet certain conditions, such as having children, having at least one member aged 62 or older, having a disabled member, or having to leave their home for a qualifying reason.
    Single people without children can also apply for help from Section 8.
  4. Eviction History: Section 8 applicants must typically have stable housing histories. People who have been kicked out of a home for drug or crime-related behavior are not allowed to apply to HUD.

Tenants, particularly those with disabilities, often worry about eviction. To understand the eviction process and timelines, read our article, How Long Does It Take to Evict a Disabled Person? and learn about protections in A Comprehensive Guide on How Disabled Tenants Cannot Be Evicted

The standards for eligibility are different based on the program and where you live. Contacting your local Public Housing Authority (PHA) for the most correct and up-to-date information is suggested.  

A small video explains how eligible families can avail of Section 8 housing.

Locating the PHA

After determining eligibility, the first thing to do is find the nearest public housing agency or service. Your PHA can tell you if the program is currently accepting new applications and what you’ll need to send.

The HUD website can help you find the PHA closest to you and learn how to apply there, as the process may differ between agencies.

Going Through the Application Process

You can also visit and follow the local PHA’s website and social media pages to find out when they will post about opening their line. Get on the waitlist as soon as possible to improve your chances of getting approved faster. If needed, download the application form.

When applying, you must gather all the required documents, including a valid government-issued ID, proof of income, and details about your family’s composition.

Presenting current and accurate papers, such as pay stubs, birth certificates, and identification cards, can speed up the procedure.

Submit Your Application

Submit the required paperwork to your local PHA with your completed application, or complete it online through the portal. Keep another copy of your application for your records.

What happens next?

As soon as you send in your application, you have to wait. Approval times range from months to years, depending on the need. But it’s important to stay attentive during this time.

Stay in touch with your local PHA to see how your application is going and to let them know if your income or family size changes. Communicating with them can be very helpful for moving your application along the line.

For individuals under 65 with disabilities looking for extra help, our guide on rental assistance provides specific information and resources designed for your situation.

Maximizing Your Chances: Insider Tips and Strategies

The waiting list for Section 8 might be long, but strategies to manage it successfully exist.

Be Ready and Available

Ensure your contact information is always current with the housing authority, and always be quick to respond and communicate. Fast responses to their inquiries can prevent delays in your application process and show your concern, excitement, and interest in the Section 8 program.

Seeking Help With Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV)

If someone seeks housing assistance immediately, there is usually a priority list for those who can prove they need it with the help of an Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV). The approval process for a voucher might be shortened from years to weeks or months.

Priority is given to applicants who have to deal with situations such as homelessness, displacement resulting from natural disasters, rescuing domestic violence, or participation in witness protection programs.

If you are experiencing any of the above situations, specify it on your application and attach any relevant documents for quicker application processing.

Getting a Doctor’s Note

Having a medical condition can advance your position on the list and potentially secure you an emergency voucher. If a family member’s health issue, like asthma or a chronic disability, could worsen due to your living conditions, obtain a letter from their doctor and submit it to the housing authority. It can definitely speed up the process. 

Andrew shared his experience on a forum that the apartment’s mold was making his daughter Emily’s asthma worse, and it felt like we were constantly at the hospital. After submitting a doctor’s note to the housing authority, they expedited his Section 8 application and issued an emergency voucher. Relocating to a healthier home significantly improved Emily’s health, he says.

Real-Life Section 8 Success Stories

Over five million Americans used Section 8 housing vouchers in 2018 to help pay for rent. Here are a few success stories from their experiences with Section 8 housing.

John shared on Qoura that his journey to get a Section 8 voucher took two years, starting in January 2014 and ending in October 2015. He found a place in November and moved in on December 1, 2015. Later, his mom applied in 2021 and got her voucher in less than two months. He suggests choosing a Section 8 voucher over apartment complexes for better housing options.

Another user, Ben, shared that he was granted Section 8, and these homes are usually good because landlords must meet government standards. He also suggests keeping your place clean and maintaining a good relationship with your landlord since the government covers the rent, and complaints from the landlord could lead to issues. 


Getting Section 8 housing may feel as complex as solving a puzzle without seeing it, but with a good plan, patience, and some insider tips, it’s entirely possible

Remember, it isn’t just about finding a place to live; it’s about finding where your life will unfold. So, take a deep breath, arm yourself with information, and confidently step forward. Your key to a new home is waiting; you just need to reach out and grab it.