The Section 8 Voucher Program

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Can I get a Section 8 voucher?

  • If you have a low income, you may be eligible.
  • Some housing authorities put you toward the top of the waiting list if you are homeless or living in a shelter or if you need to move out of your home because of spouse abuse, or qualify for another local preference.

How do I apply?

  • Call your local housing authority. You will probably have to go to their office to apply.
  • There is often (especially in the larger counties and cities) a very long waiting list for Section 8 Housing.

What do I need when I apply?

  • Most housing authorities make you show a picture ID.
  • If you do not have a driver's license, you may need to get a non-driver ID.
  • You will also need proof of your income.
  • You also must cooperate with the housing authority by signing releases.

What could keep me from getting a Section 8 voucher?

  • A housing authority can deny you if
    • you have a bad police record, or
    • someone in your household has a bad police record, or
    • you have bad landlord references, or
    • you owe money to the Housing Authority, or
    • you were evicted from public housing within the last year.
  • A housing authority may also deny you if it thinks you are abusing drugs or alcohol.

What do I do after I get a Section 8 voucher?

  • You must find a house or apartment where the owner is willing to take Section 8.
  • The landlord must ask the housing authority to approve the lease.
  • The unit must pass Section 8 inspection before you move in.

How much rent do I pay?

  • Your rent depends on your income and family size. You may pay one third of your income.
  • The housing authority figures utility costs when deciding what you pay in rent.
    • The housing authority has a utility allowance for each apartment.
    • If your rent is less than the utility allowance, you get a utility check each month.

How can I lose Section 8?

  • Housing authorities can end your voucher if
    • you abuse alcohol or use illegal drugs, or
    • you break the law, or
    • you don't pay your rent on time, or
    • you don't keep your apartment clean, or
    • you disturb your neighbors, such as by playing music too loud, or
    • you don't pay your light or gas bill, and you lose your lights or gas service, or
    • you start getting some type of income and don't tell your section 8 worker right away, or
    • you let someone move in with you and don't report this new person and the new person's income to your section 8 worker right away.
  • If someone living in your household does any of these things, the housing authority can end your voucher.
  • If someone visiting you does any of these things while visiting you, the housing authority can end your voucher.

What rights do I have if my landlord tries to evict me?

  • You have the right to defend the eviction in Court.
  • You can ask your section 8 worker for a voucher to use at a new place to live-although it is possible you will be terminated for having an eviction on your record.
  • Even if you have done nothing wrong, your landlord does not have to renew your lease. However, if you have been on the Section 8 program for 12 months without doing anything wrong and your landlord chooses not to renew your lease, you are entitled to use your voucher somewhere else.

Can I move and keep my Section 8 voucher?

  • If you have been at your house or apartment less than twelve months, your section 8 worker may let you move.
  • If you have been at your house or apartment more than twelve months, your section 8 worker has to let you move.
    • You will need to let your landlord and your worker know you want to move. Give at least 30 days notice.
    • Before you move out, you may have to get your landlord to sign a form saying whether you owe any money. You get this form from your section 8 worker and give it back to her.
    • Before you move out, you should tell your section 8 worker where you want to move and give her time to inspect the new place.
    • When you move out, you should get your landlord to sign a second form from your section 8 worker saying what you owe. You should be there when your landlord does a move-out inspection.
    • To get to move your section 8 voucher, you will have to pay for serious damages you caused.

What rights do I have if the housing authority decides to stop my Section 8?

  • You have a right to written notice telling you why.
  • In most cases, you will also have a right to have a hearing. At the hearing,
    • You can have a lawyer with you.
    • You can tell your side of the story.
    • You can ask questions of witnesses.
  • If the hearing officer rules against you, you have ten (10) days to appeal to the Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority.

Source: Alabama Legal Services



Reviewed August 2009