The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees the Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program to assist low-income families who have difficulty paying their rent. Families who enroll into the program receive assistance in the form of vouchers that subsidize their rent payments. Generally, voucher recipients pay 30% of their family income in rent and utilities and the voucher covers the rest.

The Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program is administered by local Public Housing Agencies. When you apply for the program you will be required to provide detailed information about your family income and composition to determine if you are eligible. Income limits are set in relation to the median income in your area. Your PHA can advise you of these income limits before or after you apply. Even after applying and being deemed eligible, it is not likely for a family to be helped right away. This is because the demand for housing voucher assistance and number of eligible families who apply greatly out number the number of vouchers available.

Because of this, in most cases when a family is determined to be eligible they are placed on a wait list. In some instances, families wait up to 3 to 6 years to receive vouchers assistance. In some areas, wait lists are so full that a PHA may close it and stop accepting applications for a certain period of time. If this happens in your area, your PHA will be able to advise you of the enrollment window for applying.

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Being placed on the wait list can be frustrating, but there are some things families can do to potentially speed up the process. Although reapplying to the same PHA is not permitted (your application stays active until your are deemed ineligible or pull the application yourself), families are free to apply for assistance through more than one PHA. 

As is to be expected, some PHAs have shorter wait lists than others so this can greatly affect how soon a family is enrolled. It is important to note that you must live within the jurisdiction of the PHA through which you apply, so you should only apply for voucher assistance through PHAs in areas you are wiling to live in. You will need to complete the application process in its entirety with each PHA to be considered.