The Pennsylvania Section 8 housing initiative is part of the federal Housing Choice Voucher program, which is funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The program is designed to help lower-income, disabled and elderly Americans secure affordable housing. People who are eligible for Section 8 housing assistance don’t have to live in government housing facilities. They can choose a rental home in the private market and use the housing voucher to offset the cost.
The Pennsylvania Section 8 program is managed at a local level through public housing authorities (PHAs). There are nearly 90 PHAs in Pennsylvania. Each PHA conducts the application process for Section 8 Housing in their area and determines who is selected for the program.
Section 8 Eligibility in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Section 8 program is available to a select group of people. Only those with a real need for housing assistance will be eligible.
Assistance in Pennsylvania is primarily given to low-income families, elderly individuals and the disabled.
Section 8 Income Limits in Pennsylvania
Eligibility is largely based on household income. The Pennsylvania Section 8 income limits are updated annually using information from HUD. The income limits are based on the median income of the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) and the number of members in a household.
The income limits for each MSA are broken down into three categories: low income, very low income, and extra low income. Typically, the program is reserved for families that fall within the very low and extra low categories.
Pennsylvania Section 8 Eligibility FAQ
How do I qualify for Section 8 housing in Pennsylvania?
To qualify for Section 8 housing assistance in Pennsylvania you must meet the income limits. You must also have a fairly clean criminal record and have no outstanding balances with a landlord or the housing authority. If you meet the minimum requirements you’ll have to apply for the Section 8 program at your local PHA to find out if you are fully qualified.
How do I apply for Section 8 Housing in Pennsylvania?
The application options depend on the PHA. All PHAs provide applications that can the printed out or completed in-person at the PHA. Some housing authorities now offer an online application as well.
Are some applicants given preference?
It’s possible. Each PHA decides if special preference will be given to certain individuals or groups.
Section 8 Housing Openings in Pennsylvania
Section 8 housing in Pennsylvania isn’t open to new applicants year-round in many cities. PHAs sometimes close the Section 8 application process when they have far more applicants than they can help. Those that are able to apply are put on a waiting list prior to being approved to participate in the program.
Section 8 Waiting Lists in Pennsylvania
For years, the demand for Section 8 housing assistance has exceeded the allotted funding in Pennsylvania. Because of that, applicants are put on a waiting list before being selected for the program.
The wait lists for Pennsylvania Section 8 housing is long in most areas. It’s not uncommon for applicants to wait for a year or more before being approved for a housing voucher.
How wait lists are managed varies. The local PHA will decide when to open and close the waiting list to new applicants. They’ll also decide how applicants are selected from the waiting list.
Two of the largest PHAs in Pennsylvania are in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. They are good examples of how differently wait lists can be managed.
Pittsburgh Section 8 Wait List
The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh uses a random lottery to place applicants on the waitlist.
Philadelphia Section 8 Wait List
In Philadelphia, the PHA uses a first come first served policy for placing applicants on the waitlist.
If the waiting list is closed in your MSA you can apply for assistance in neighboring counties.
Steps to Receiving and Using Your Pennsylvania Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
If you’re selected from the waiting list there are still a few more steps that need to be taken before receiving a Housing Choice Voucher.
Step 1. Interview With the PHA
Applicants must have an in-person interview at the PHA. A representative will review all of your information and you’ll need to provide additional documents to prove your eligibility.
Step 2. Review the Voucher and Find a Home
The voucher will note an advisable maximum monthly rent and rental unit size. You must find a home that fits the specifications, and the landlord must be willing to participate in the program.
Step 3. Sign the Lease and Alert Your PHA
You’ll work directly with the landlord to execute a lease that must be at least 12 months long. Let the PHA know you’ve found a home and provide them with a copy of the lease. The PHA will have to enter into a separate agreement with the landlord to establish the use of the housing choice voucher.
Step 4. Uphold the Lease Terms
In order to keep receiving assistance, Section 8 participants must uphold the terms of their lease and make rent payments on time every month.
Step 5. Do the Annual Reviews
The local PHA will conduct a review each year to determine if you still qualify for assistance. The PHA will also come inspect the property to ensure the landlord is upholding their obligation of providing safe, healthy housing.