San Francisco Housing Authority Reopens Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Waitlist after a decade for New Applicants

The waitlist for Section 8 housing vouchers in San Francisco opened on October 23, 2023, for the first time in a decade and is scheduled to close at 5 pm on Monday, November 6, 2023. The waitlist is for “housing choice” vouchers, which puts the voucher in the hands of the renter, who can use it to apply for housing on the rental market. The vouchers can be used for any landlord, and will pay up to $2,669 for a studio, $3,300 for a one-bedroom, and $3,949 for a two-bedroom apartment. The opening of the waitlist has caused a rush of people in San Francisco to apply for the vouchers, with more than 40,000 people already applying and tens of thousands more expected to add their names to the list.

How to apply for the Waitlist and How the Lottery System Works?

Online Application Process for Section 8 Housing Vouchers:

  1. Applications are exclusively online and do not incur any charges.
  2. Visit on your computer or mobile device to apply.
  3. A valid email address, phone number, and full names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers (if available) of all household members are required.
  4. After submitting the application, make sure to keep the confirmation number received for reference.

Additional details:

  1. Applicants can apply for the waitlist online through the San Francisco Housing Authority website.
  2. The application takes about 10 to 20 minutes to complete and requires a full name, date of birth, and Social Security Number (if available) for all household members, plus a valid email address and phone number.
  3. The lottery system will randomly select 6,500 qualified applicants in San Francisco to be placed on the waitlist.
  4. Applicants will hear whether they have made the waitlist within 30 days after the application closes, and they will be notified when their name comes to the top of the waitlist.
  5. A number of factors determine one’s place on the waitlist, including veteran status, disability, one’s place on the public housing waitlist, and past involuntary displacement from a San Francisco residence.

Number of Applicants and Demand for Affordable Housing in San Francisco:

  1. More than 40,000 people have already applied for the waitlist, and about 60,000 applications are expected by the time the window closes on November 6, 2023.
  2. With only 6,500 spots available, that means only 11% will make it onto the waitlist.
  3. The high demand for affordable housing in San Francisco is a reflection of the affordable housing crisis in the city, where the cost of living is one of the highest in the country.

Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of Being on the Waitlist:

  1. The potential benefits of being on the waitlist include the opportunity to receive federal housing assistance that can help low-income renters afford safe and affordable housing.
  2. The potential drawbacks of being on the waitlist include the fact that joining the waitlist is no guarantee of housing, and it can take years to actually obtain a voucher. Additionally, many voucher-holders report being discriminated against by landlords.

How Section 8 Housing Vouchers Work?

  1. The Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) assists low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly in affording housing.
  2. It offers “tenant-based” rental assistance, allowing tenants to move between units meeting minimum housing quality standards.
  3. Participants can choose eligible housing and receive vouchers to offset rental costs.
  4. Local public housing agencies (PHAs) administer Section 8 vouchers, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  5. PHAs determine assistance amounts and pay landlords directly on behalf of families.
  6. Families are responsible for the remaining rent, with HUD specifying a minimum of 30% of their monthly income.

Are you eligible for the Section 8 Housing Voucher?

Income requirements for qualifying for a voucher

  1. Family income should generally not exceed 50% of the median income for the chosen county or metropolitan area.
  2. Public housing agencies (PHAs) are required by law to allocate 75% of vouchers to applicants with incomes below 30% of the area median income.
  3. Median income levels are determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and vary by location.
  4. HUD sets income limits annually based on family size and area median income.
  5. PHAs use HUD’s guidance to evaluate eligibility, considering factors like family income, size, composition, assets, and preferences.

Eligibility and Application Process:

  1. Eligibility requirements include income, family status, citizenship, and student status.
  2. Income limits are established annually by HUD based on family size and area median income.
  3. HUD and PHAs consider factors like family income, size, composition, assets, and preferences when determining eligibility.
  4. Applicants can apply for Section 8 vouchers at local housing authority offices.
  5. Waitlists are common due to limited resources, and agencies may temporarily close lists when capacity is reached.
  6. Obtaining a voucher from the waitlist can take several years.

Property Eligibility and Services:

  1. Section 8 vouchers can be used at qualifying privately owned properties, including single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments.
  2. All Section 8 properties are regularly inspected to meet program standards.
  3. Section 8 programs offer support services to help recipients seek additional employment and educational opportunities.

A spokesperson noted that San Francisco’s waitlist for housing vouchers opened a decade ago. The reason for the extended interval was to manage the overwhelming number of applicants. The goal is to ensure that the agency can issue vouchers effectively rather than continually accumulating applicants without being able to provide vouchers in a timely manner.

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