Details About the Section 8 Wait List Lottery


The demand for Section 8 vouchers regularly exceeds the supply in most parts of the United States. For this reason, the Department of Housing and Urban Development places all future recipients on a waiting list after deeming applicants eligible for housing assistance. The Department of Housing and Urban Development warns applicants of long wait times. Since beneficiaries with the most pressing needs take precedence over others, there is no way to determine the exact wait time for an applicant. Wait times in excess of one year are relatively common throughout the country. For comprehensive information about Section 8 and housing assistance, read the following topics:

  • Which applicants receive preference for Section 8?
  • hat is the Section 8 lottery?
  • Will my disability or age affect my Section 8 wait list status?
  • What if I need housing but fail to secure a Section 8 voucher?

Which applicants receive preference for Section 8?

As mentioned above, it is common for Section 8 voucher demand to outpace supply. In the most extreme cases, local housing agencies will close waiting lists if overwhelmed with applicants. In general, applicants who reside within the jurisdiction of the agency will receive preference, especially if they are already receiving assistance. Individuals may also receive immediate attention if they:

  • Have been involuntarily displaced from their current place of residence.
  • Are homeless, lack permanent housing or reside in a dwelling that is unfit for habitation.
  • Put more than 50 percent of their annual household income towards housing.

The conditions above are present in most jurisdictions, but each agency has the discretion to amend their preferences.

What is the Section 8 lottery?

After applying for a Section 8 Voucher, housing assistance is not a guarantee even if you meet initial eligibility standards. The waiting list uses a random lottery that places applicants in a specific order. The lottery does take local preferences into consideration and, in many jurisdictions, the state invites applicants to an eligibility session to learn more and find out if they will receive a voucher. Each public housing agency jurisdiction has the right to alter lottery rules and regulations to meet local needs. If an applicant wants additional lottery information, he or she should contact the public housing agency in their community.

Will my disability or age affect my Section 8 wait list status?

The state gives elderly individuals and those with disabilities a degree of preference during the lottery. Since these applicants often have difficulty maintaining and finding employment, they are often subject to financial distress. Applicants who cannot operate a computer and those who need assistance with a Section 8 application are eligible for additional help.

What if I need housing but fail to secure a Section 8 voucher?

If an individual needs housing but is unable to secure a Section 8 voucher, there are additional government and community services for which he or she may be eligible. Many cities across the country provide rent assistance for those who are not eligible for Section 8. Foreclosure prevention programs may also be available to homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes. Homeless individuals and those without permanent housing should check local listings of shelters and temporary housing. Many of these shelters are specifically for families with children as well as those suffering from substance abuse problems.