How the Tennessee Section 8 Housing Program Works

Calendar Icon Updated February 11, 2019
Section 8

Are  you having trouble finding affordable housing for you and your family  in Tennessee? If you feel like you’re struggling with locating a decent  home and also being able to pay for it, you’re not alone. Millions of  Americans struggle with getting into a home that they can afford and  maintain without worrying about an eviction. One program that might be  able to help you is Section 8. Here are a few ways to help you better  understand what Section 8 housing in Tennessee is and how it may be able  to work for you.

Determining Eligibility and Qualifying for Section 8 

The first step in getting into an affordable rental unit is to  determine if you’ll even qualify. There are some special guidelines on  being eligible for low-income housing, in the state of Tennessee. Some  basic things to consider include:

  • Your household income level—which should be at 80 percent or below the federal poverty line.
  • Number of household family members.
  • U.S. Citizenship status
  • Past eviction history

You will have to have all of this information available before you’re  able to proceed with the application process. Once you’ve gathered all  of your household’s income, identification proofs and utility  verification, you can then call a HUD specialist to set up an initial  interview to begin the application process. You can also start this  application process online through HUD and then you will be directed or contacted on how to proceed with the initial interview consultation.

What are Income Limits?

Another consideration to factor in is your income limit.  Depending on your income, this is one of the initial factors in  eligibility determination. Keep in mind that the total income level is  based on what part of Tennessee you live in. This is classified as:

  • Low income at 80 percent of the median income level.
  • Very low income at 50 percent of the median poverty level.
  • Extremely low income at 30 percent of the median poverty level.

Applying for Low-Income Housing

Your first step is contacting a HUD section 8 specialist in the  county that you live in. Before you apply, ask your HUD specialist about  what the exact income levels and limits are for your demographic. Your  specialist will take into consideration how many people you have in your  household as well as what your combined income is before seeing how  much of a voucher you’ll qualify for.

The best way to get started with a section 8 application is to call  your local HUD office and ask if they are accepting new applicants. This  will give you a general idea as to how soon you may be receiving  benefit assistance. If they are closed to accepting new applications for  an HCV or housing choice voucher, you’ll have to be placed on a waiting list.

Is There a Waiting List to Apply?

If your specialist tells you that there is a waiting list to apply  for section 8 in Tennessee, you’ll have to apply when open enrollment  occurs. This can be random or a designated future time frame according  to the agency and their funding availability. Currently, the Nashville waiting list is closed but may open briefly for new applicants in the near future. The Memphis waiting list is closed at the moment. If you already have an application that was  submitted but not processed, that application will be a priority over  others who have not signed up yet. When enrollment opens in the future,  you will be contacted to make sure your application is still up to date.

Finding a Section 8 Landlord 

If you were able to apply for a housing choice voucher toward your  rent and were approved, the next step is to find a landlord who accepts  the voucher and payments. This can be challenging because there is often  an additional waiting list just to get into the apartment complex or  housing unit. Check for rental properties in your area that are  income-based and ask how you can apply for a lease agreement. From  there, you’ll be able to find an affordable place to live that  accommodates you and your family’s needs.

What are Some Steps to Receiving Your Section 8 Housing Voucher?

Now that you have all of your information documented and submitted  through HUD, what are the final steps in getting your Section 8 voucher?

  • Make sure you qualify, factoring your household size and income.
  • Talk to a HUD specialist in the county you live in to begin the application process.
  • Apply and wait for your approval letter
  • Take your voucher and letter approval with you as you fill out new apartment applications.

Finding affordable housing doesn’t have to be challenging. Gathering  all of your proofs and being persistent about the application process  will get you into a new home sooner rather than later.

Eligibility Team

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