Processing Time Limits for a Section 8 Housing Application

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The wait time for Section 8 assistance varies from one area to another.
The wait time for Section 8 assistance varies from one area to another. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

The Section 8 program provides financial assistance to those who can't afford to pay their rent. There is no time limit for the housing authority to finish processing your Section 8 application. Because of the popularity of the program, you usually have to get on a waiting list before you can finally get a Section 8 voucher.

Waiting List

There is often so much demand for Section 8 help that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and local housing authorities can't fulfill all applicants' needs immediately. Usually, you have to get on a waiting list and wait as your application moves up the list to get a voucher. When demand is too high, the local housing authority may temporarily close the waiting list to deal with existing applications.

Waiting Time

The length of time you have to wait for the housing authority to finish processing your Section 8 housing application varies depending on the level of demand for assistance in your area and the resources available to your local housing authority. It is common to have to wait a long time before getting a Section 8 voucher. According to HUD, you may have to wait for months or even years. Contact your local housing authority for a more precise estimate of your waiting time.

Preferences

Some applicants may move up the Section 8 waiting list faster than others. The criteria for preferential treatment vary by housing authority, depending on the needs of a community. For example, the housing authority may select families that are currently homeless or living in a substandard property. It may also prefer families paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent, and also veterans, seniors, disabled individuals and families with small children.

Getting on the Waiting List

To get on the waiting list, you must submit an application during a period when the waiting list is open. The local housing authority randomly selects applicants to place on the waiting list. Your chances of getting on the waiting list depend on your local housing authority and the demand for assistance in your area. After your name gets to the top of the list, the housing authority will contact you for documentation to determine your eligibility. After a briefing, you then receive your Section 8 voucher.

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