For those who need housing, but don’t have the financial means to afford it, the government offers what's known as Section 8 housing programs. The Section 8 housing program in California is designed to help low-income families find homes within their financial means.

The California Section 8 Program or Housing Choice Voucher Program is operated by the California Public Housing Authority (PHA) which has more than 100 offices spread throughout the state.

The PHA is provided with funds from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which are given in the form of vouchers to eligible applicants in the Section 8 program. The vouchers are distributed to the landlord or property owner directly on behalf of the applicant.

If you meet the state’s eligibility requirements, you can apply for low-income housing assistance in your city. Below are some important things you need to know before applying for Section 8 housing in California.

Section 8 Housing Openings in California

The California PHA maintains a database of eligible properties, but you don't have to choose from their list. Any property where the landlord is willing to accept the voucher and is in good condition may be eligible.

Section 8 Eligibility in California

There are several requirements to being eligible for California Section 8 housing. There are three areas to look at: your income, household demographics, and citizenship.

How Do You Qualify for Section 8 in California? 

Eligible applicants need to be citizens of the United States or equivalent. They must meet the state’s income eligibility requirements. Citizens who have younger children, are caring for the elderly, are pregnant, or disabled are often given preferential consideration. Those who have a criminal record are not automatically disqualified, as approvals are determined on a case-by-case basis.

How Do I Apply for Section 8 Housing in California?

If you’re interested in applying for Section 8 housing programs in the state of California, you will need to locate your city’s housing authority. You can complete an application online for consideration. When applying online, there is a guide to walk you through step by step. Applicants can also fill out a paper application by visiting their local HUD office.

You will need documentation including birth certificates, social security cards, proof of income, and bank statements for all members of your household. The application takes only moments to complete and an approval should be provided to you within 2 to 3 weeks provided all information needed has been collected.

If you’ve applied to an area where funds are available, you will receive notice of your approval for a housing choice voucher. If, however, there aren’t any funds available, you will be placed on a waiting list until more funds become available.

California Section 8 for Landlords

Property owners interested in housing Section 8 tenants can apply to be added to the PHA’s database. Landlords will need to reach out to their local housing authority to complete an application. The application will include contact information as well as details about the property.

Properties will have to pass a health and safety inspection prior to being added to the database.

Section 8 Waiting Lists in California

Waiting lists are used by the California Public Housing Authority when the program is out of funds. If there aren’t any funds available in your area at the time of your application, you will be added to this waiting lists. Waiting lists are open periodically as funds are available.

Los Angeles Section 8 Housing Waiting List

The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) recently closed their waiting list after announcing an opening from October 16, 2017 to October 29, 2017. The HACLA will conduct a lottery in which they will select 20,000 applicants from the waiting list. Applicants will receive an email notification if they have been selected from the list. They can also check their waiting list status online.

San Francisco Section 8 Housing Waiting List

The San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA), is another location applicants can apply for a Section 8 Housing subsidy. The waiting list is currently closed, and the agency is not accepting applications.

Since waiting lists can open at any time, if you’re thinking about applying for Section 8 Housing or you’re currently on a waiting list, check your status periodically so you’ll be prepared to locate housing when your name is selected from the list.

Steps to Receiving Your Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

Once you've been approved and your name is called from the waiting list, there are a few more steps to complete.

  • Interview - You will need to meet with the PHA to verify that you still qualify for assistance.
  • Find an apartment - You will need to find one where the landlord is willing to take the voucher and one that meets the safety standards set by the PHA.
  • Inspection - The apartment will need to be inspected to be sure it's in compliance.
  • Sign the lease - Once these steps are fulfilled, you can sign a lease and the landlord will also make an agreement with the PHA for funds.

Section 8 Income Limits in California

The California PHA divides income levels into categories that include low-income, very low-income, and extremely low-income. To qualify for Section 8 in the state of California, your combined household income needs to be below 80% of the median income in the area.

Low-income applicants earn 80% less than the area median, very low-income applicants earn less than 50% of the area median, and extremely low-income earn less than 30% of the area median. More than 75% of all housing vouchers are awarded to applicants in the extremely low-income bracket.

Hud reports the state and federal income limits on an annual basis. You can visit the HUD website to determine if you are eligible.

For those who want a place to call home, but don’t have the financial means to pay for it all themselves, section 8 housing programs offered in California can help make that dream a reality. Get to know the program, check eligibility requirements, apply, and keep an eye on the list as you patiently wait for your housing voucher. If you’re not satisfied with the decision, a Housing Authority representative can help you with filing an appeal.