The Missouri Section 8 Housing Voucher Program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, helps lower-income, disabled and elderly residents find affordable housing in the state. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds Section 8, however, each state manages their own program.
While the Section 8 program does provide financial assistance, it’s up to you to apply for the vouchers and find housing that meets the program’s requirements.
Section 8 Eligibility in Missouri
Section 8 housing isn’t available to all Missouri residents. Each Missouri PHA will outline its own eligibility requirements. However, there are two basic requirements that all applicants will need to meet.
In order to qualify for Section 8 housing in Missouri, you must prove that you are a state resident. Applicants must also be U.S. citizens. Some non-citizens that have certain immigration statuses may also be eligible.
Section 8 Income Limits in Missouri
There are also income requirements for Section 8 eligibility. The law dictates that three-fourths of vouchers must go to people whose household income doesn’t exceed 30% of the median income for the area. Often PHAs set the income limit at 50% of the county or metropolitan area’s median household income. PHAs use the latest median income data published by HUD.
Applying for Section 8 Housing in Missouri
To apply for Section 8 vouchers you’ll have to visit your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) or housing authority. Your local PHA can provide you with an application and guidance on what information must be shared.
The Section 8 Housing Missouri Application
The first step to receiving a Section 8 voucher is to submit an application. Some PHAs use an online-only form while others accept paper applications. It’s extremely important to fill out an application as soon as possible. In some PHAs applicants are added to wait lists based on when they apply.
Financial information and Family Makeup
You’ll have to provide basic information about your financial status on the application. In addition to income information, you’ll need to provide information about the people in your household. The housing voucher you receive will largely depend on the age and sex of your family members. The family makeup will determine the eligible unit size of your voucher.
Section 8 Housing Wait Lists and Openings in Missouri
Section 8 housing lists are open at different times depending on your city. Right now there are a total of 129 PHAs across Missouri that offer Section 8 housing or low-rent programs.
Unfortunately, the HUD funds for the Section 8 program are limited. The demand for Section 8 vouchers regularly exceeds availability. As a result, there are often waiting lists. Applicants can remain on a waiting list for an extended period. It’s also not uncommon for waiting lists to be closed if they grow too long. Currently, the average time spent on a wait list is 3 years.
Your local PHA will decide how to manage its wait list. Below are two examples that show how differently wait lists can operate.
St. Louis Section 8 Wait List
In St. Louis the city PHA will only open Section 8 waiting lists for a specified period. The PHA will then conduct a lottery to determine which applicants receive a Section 8 voucher.
Kansas City Section 8 Wait List
In Kansas City, the PHA awards vouchers on a first come first served basis. Applicants are added to the bottom of the wait list after their application is received. Once funding is available the Kansas City PHA will select the first applicant on the list and work their way down.
When a waiting list is long, PHAs may establish local preferences to help some families get assistance faster. Essentially, if a family meets local preferences they are bumped up the list above applicants that don’t meet any preferences. This is done on a community-by-community basis and preferences vary from one PHA to the next.
What to Expect Once You’re Off the Wait List
After years of waiting, it can almost seem surreal when your number is actually called. If you’re selected for a Section 8 voucher you should receive a letter notifying you of your status change. The letter will also provide details for your interview.
A screening interview is conducted to verify your current income and family status. You’ll be required to bring documentation to the interview to determine that you are still eligible to receive the Section 8 voucher.
After the PHA has done the interview and reviewed the documents, you’ll be invited to an orientation briefing. During the orientation, you’ll learn more about how the Housing Choice Voucher Program works and the requirements that must be met to continue receiving assistance.
Steps to Using Your Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
Once you’ve been approved for the Missouri Section 8 program you’ll need to find an eligible home. The rental must meet certain safety and health standards or the voucher can’t be used.
- Step 1. Find an eligible home within the acceptable monthly rent. The agreed-upon rent must be within 30% of the family’s monthly adjusted gross income. If the monthly rent exceeds 30% the voucher holder must pay the difference. However, voucher holders aren’t required to pay more than 40% of the family’s monthly adjusted gross income.
- Step 2. The PHA will need to inspect the property before they sign off on the lease.
The PHA will want to ensure that the housing unit meets all of the necessary requirements for the program.
- Step 3. Execute the lease.
If everything checks out, you and the landlord can then execute the lease.
- Step 4. The landlord and PHA enter into a contract.
While you’re signing the lease, the PHA and landlord execute a housing assistance payments contract. The contract will run the full length of the lease.
- Step 5. Annual Evaluations
Each year the PHA that issued the voucher will evaluate the family’s income, the family composition and the housing unit. If the landlord fails to uphold the housing standards of the contract, then the local housing authority has the right to withhold assistance payments.