Section 8 Waiting Lists


To receive assistance under the Section 8 housing program, you must first apply and be considered eligible by a public housing authority (PHA). Then, you will be placed on a housing authority Section 8 waiting list. Depending on the state, Section 8 waiting lists may take years to reopen. It may also take years for applicants to reach the top. As one of the most popular federal programs, the number of Section 8 applicants exceed the program’s available funds and resources, and the PHAs must close their Section 8 waiting lists in order to help the families currently on the list. In smaller counties and rural areas with lower demand, the waiting lists may reopen often.

To better organize applications and determine which families need more immediate help, PHAs often establish local preferences that place certain families at the top of the list. For example, if a family pays more than half of its income on rent, lives in substandard housing or is involuntarily displaced, the PHA will move it to a higher position on the list. In addition, families with disabled family members or elderly individuals may also be eligible for local preference. PHAs determine local preferences according to the housing priorities of the families and the needs of the community. By law, a PHA must distribute 75 percent of its vouchers to extremely low-income families, such as those with incomes below 30 percent of the median area income.

Once an applicant reaches the top of the Section 8 waiting list, the PHA will check the applicant’s eligibility. Many families that have been on a waiting list for a long time may no longer be eligible because of income or family situation changes. If the PHA finds you ineligible when you reach the top of the list, you will not receive a voucher and your Section 8 housing application will be void. However, if you are still eligible, you will be called for an interview with a PHA worker and then receive a housing voucher. Then, you will be able to look for a rental home in a location of your choice, as long as the rent amount does not exceed the PHA’s standards.

PHAs can open and close Section 8 waiting lists according to the demand and number of applications. In some states and counties, waiting times are short and applicants may receive a voucher within months. In others, it may take years before a family reaches the top of the list. Typically, a PHA may reopen a Section 8 waiting list and accept new applications if a family loses eligibility. Larger cities can even reach a waiting time of 10 years on their Section 8 waiting lists, and when a family obtains a housing voucher, it may be required to stay in a rental unit in the local area for at least one year before finding a home in another location. In addition, the Section 8 waiting list process is different from one PHA to the next. Many state and county PHAs select the number of applications through a lottery drawing and then simply close the waiting list for an unspecified amount of time. However, even newly added families will not be served immediately and will remain on the waiting list until they reach the top.

What is Section 8?

The Section 8 program was created by the federal government to assist low-income individuals and families with finding affordable private housing. To learn how you can become a member of this assistance program, download our helpful guide today. Beneficiaries of the program have a percentage of their rent covered by the government via housing subsidies, which are administered on a local level by public housing agencies or PHAs directly to landlords. Section 8 members are allowed to choose apartments, townhouses or even modest homes in this program, but the landlord must accept government subsidies in order for the provided housing vouchers to be used. Learn more about how you can qualify for housing assistance and discover the steps to file an application by clicking here.

How much will my housing subsidy be?

As a Section 8 beneficiary, you will pay the difference between your landlord’s rent amount and how much your housing subsidy covers. To find out how you can get a housing subsidy, download our guide now. If you are accepted into the Section 8 program, your public housing agency will calculate the maximum assistance you can receive. Your maximum housing assistance will either be the total rent of your apartment/home minus 30 percent of your adjusted monthly income or it will be the payment standard less 30 percent of your adjusted monthly income, whichever amount is lower. To find out how Section 8 can benefit you today, click here.