In our last issue of The Journey, Pam Blanton offered her insights into piecing together the benefits puzzle. She mentioned the website www.AffordableHousingOnline.com as a great free resource for families looking to secure a Section 8 voucher.
In this issue, we are following up with some inside tips to help you explore the Affordable Housing Online website and get your Loved One’s name on that all-important Section 8 waitlist.
Ready? Let’s get organized.
Before you begin to apply for a waitlist, make sure you have this information:
- Full legal name, Social Security number, and date of birth of your Loved One.
- Total gross annual income for Loved One from all sources (Social Security and employment), before taxes or deductions.
- Contact information for the person who will assist in completing future paperwork. For example, parent, guardian, or advocate.
Next, keep in mind the following points:
- Your Loved One is the head of their own household if they are over 18 and paying rent -- even if they live with you and pay rent to you.
- When the application asks who the head of household is, it is your Loved One. When they ask about other household members, the answer would be “none.”
- The applicant’s total household income is only your Loved One’s income, not yours.
- Most of these applications are for waitlists chosen by lottery. Just because you apply does not mean you will be added to the list. If you are chosen through the lottery, you will be notified and added to the list.
- Once you are added to the list the wait can be three or more years … so start early!
- Remember to keep the Housing Authority informed if your contact information changes.
- Once a voucher is issued you have a limited time to put it in place, so it is important to have your plan ready for how services will be provided to support your Loved One. Know your spot on the list, so you can estimate when that voucher might be available. When you are added to a list, the Housing Authority will typically tell you what number you are on the list. Follow up with them to get their estimate of how long it might take to receive your voucher.
- Many Housing Authorities give preference to people who live and/or work in their jurisdiction. Don’t let this deter you from applying. Vouchers are often offered to people who don’t meet that “local” preference.
- Apply for as many waitlists as you can, even if they are not in your area or state. Most Housing Authorities require that your Loved One live in their jurisdiction for one year before transferring the voucher to another location. However, a person with disabilities can request reasonable accommodation to “port” their voucher to their preferred area immediately. (We often help families write “reasonable accommodations requests” to help expedite that process. Reach out to us for help.)
Ready to apply? Follow this guide to navigate the site with ease.
- Go to www.affordablehousingonline.com.￼￼
Please note: This is a free website, and they support themselves through paid advertising. Just follow our red arrows in the steps below to stay on track.
- Click on “Section 8 Waitlists”
- Scroll down to see “Waitlists Open Now.”
Click each waitlist link to apply. (Hint: open links in a new tab or window so you can easily return to this list.)
- Then scroll down to see “Waitlists Opening Soon.”
- Sign up for “Email Alerts” to be notified when lists open or are opening soon. Enter your information, then select the states you’ll apply for. Remember, you can apply for any wait lists that are open.
Be patient and persistent
As you apply for these waitlists, keep the end in mind.
“Your goal is to create a sustainable living solution for your Loved One -- that takes time, and it takes persistence,” Pam reminds us. “Section 8 is a valuable housing subsidy that makes an affordable housing solution possible. Take it one step, one waitlist, at a time.”
And please reach out to us if we can help. Getting a Section 8 voucher takes time but it's worth it because once your Loved One has a voucher they can have it for the rest of their life. I guarantee it will be worth the effort!