Your rent is now several days late. The landlord won’t stop calling you, and has even begun showing up at your door wondering when you’ll pay. Since cash is tight, you don’t have an answer. So, what do you do?
You start looking into Section 8 housing vouchers, as you hear they can give you rental assistance from the government. And while that is certainly true, a voucher isn’t likely to show up in time to fix your current dilemma.
Contrary to popular belief, Section 8 does not provide emergency rental assistance. In other words, if you have to pay the rent in the next few days and are on the brink of eviction, Section 8 is not that short-term solution you’re looking for.
What is Section 8 good for? Giving you rental assistance in the long term so you and your family can enjoy safe, affordable housing.
With that out of the way, let’s dive deeper into what the wait times are for housing vouchers.
Why Housing Vouchers Take a Long Time to Process
The law of supply and demand plays a huge role when it comes to Section 8 vouchers. The supply is low, and the demand for them is massive. As such, waiting lists for this form of long-term rental assistance are long.
The more people need vouchers in your area, the longer your wait will be. And while it’s impossible to tell how long you’ll have to wait to get a housing voucher due to several factors, we can say that it can take years to process.
How the Section 8 Waiting List Operates
Filling out your Section 8 application is the first step of the housing voucher process. Once submitted, you’ll need to wait a couple of weeks or months for the Public Housing Agency’s (PHA) decision to approve or reject it. If it’s approved, you will be on a waiting list.
The waiting list is what takes the most time when applying for a housing voucher. While the wait may be long, feel good knowing that it’s an accomplishment just to be placed on one.
In some areas where demand is exceptionally high, applicants that pass all of the eligibility requirements still don’t make the waiting list. By simply being on it, you’re one step closer to your voucher.
Where you sit on the waiting list could be determined by luck (a lottery) or chronologically. Either way, you’ll want to contact your PHA to see where you stand.
They may give you an estimate of how long it will take to receive your voucher. They may also reveal your exact spot on the waiting list. If not, you can figure it out on your own by using the Annual Plan document.
How to Calculate Your Waiting List Time
Most Annual Plans list waiting list statistics. The two most important stats reveal how many households are on the list, plus the annual turnover rate.
With those two numbers, you can estimate how long you’ll have to wait to get your voucher.
For example, if there are 1,000 households on your waiting list and the annual turnover rate is 250, you will have to wait four years to get your voucher.
By knowing this number, you can better plan your housing arrangement in the future.