How to Apply for Section 8 & Section 42 Housing

By Karina C. Hernandez - Updated April 21, 2017

Applying for Section 8 and Section 42 housing requires verification of your income, assets and family size. You must demonstrate that your financial situation meets the Department of Housing and Urban Development's guidelines, as both Section 8 and Section 42 are low-income housing programs. The Section 8 housing choice voucher program involves a HUD subsidy that covers a portion of your rent. Section 42 doesn't subsidize your rent; instead, it gives the property developer a tax-break incentive to allocate some of its units to low-income tenants.

Section 8: Where to Apply

A HUD-certified public housing authority in your area can help you apply for Section 8. Also known as a PHA, this office oversees tenant and landlord compliance with the voucher program. To find the PHA nearest you, visit HUD.gov, select your state from the map, and choose a housing authority in your city or zip code. The HUD website indicates the type of low-income programs administered through each PHA. A housing authority listing that reads "Low-income" under the "Type" column means that Section 8 is not administered through that particular PHA. Contact a PHA near you that indicates "Section 8" or "Both," under the "Type" column.

Section 42: Finding a Property

Each Section 42 development administers its own application and screening process of prospective tenants. You must first locate a community that offers low-income units under the Section 42 program, which can be difficult. To find low-income buildings in your area, visit the HUD.gov "Low-rent apartment search" page. Select your state, then the desired city or zip code, to generate a list of apartment buildings offering low-income units. The listings provide the name of the community, the address and the point of contact's email and phone number. Management at each individual site can help you initiate your application.

The Application Process

Each PHA that offers Section 8 has specific application requirements, as does the management of each Section 42 property. They all must follow HUD's minimum standards, but they also have the authority to discern whether a tenant is a good fit for the program. In both cases, you must supply a substantial amount of documentation in addition to completing the rental application.

Section 8 tenants essentially have two application processes:

  1. Applying for a Section 8 voucher directly with the PHA
  2. Applying for an individual rental property directly with the landlord or property manager

You must also complete an application that the prospective landlord of the property will fill out and sign for approval by the PHA. The form, known as the Request for Tenancy Approval, is submitted after you have located a rental property that is eligible for Section 8.

About the Author

K.C. Hernandez has covered real estate topics since 2009. She is a licensed real estate salesperson in San Diego since 2004. Her articles have appeared in community newspapers but her work is mostly online. Hernandez has a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA and works as the real estate expert for Demand Media Studios.

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