HUD/Section 8 Certificates
What's Available? Regular Section 8 Certificates are for individuals with low income. Aftercare Certificates are for people with disabilities who have low income. Other pull out programs may be available (e.g., Native Americans, family re-unification certificates, disaster/emergency certificates, etc.) in your area. Rehab Certificates/Conventional Housing are certificates which are attached to a particular building. Everyone in the building receives HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) assistance and the certificate stays with the building, not with the person.
How to apply? Applications are available at the local Housing Authority. Individuals may apply for regular Section 8, Aftercare and Rehab. certificates all at the same time. In most areas, there is a waiting list. People are often placed on more than one waiting list (e.g., county, city, HUD buildings) and each list typically requires additional paperwork.
Cities and counties can close their lists to new applicants. If a list is closed, check frequently to find out about the next available open registration. The time period for a waiting list can be up to several years. However, once a certificate is received (other than for an emergency/disaster) it's for life as long as paperwork and eligibility requirements are met.
It's advisable to turn in all paperwork in person so you can get an itemized receipt. Even certified mail will not provide a record of exactly what was sent or received. Remember to keep photo copies of everything. When there's a deadline for registering, meet it. If even one day late, make sure to try and arrange for an extension. Late, incomplete or no paperwork is the fastest way to get bumped off of the waiting list.
Federal Preference Points move individuals up on the waiting list. They're available for individuals: (1) currently paying over 50% of their income for rent; (2) living in "substandard" housing; and/or (3) homeless. In some areas, preference points are about the only way to move up the list.
What does the certificate do for people? The certificate entitles an individual to pay no more than 30% of their income towards rent. The rest is paid for by HUD. If someone needs a live-in attendant, they can get a two bedroom apartment and still pay only 30% of their income for rent while HUD pays the rest (including the room for the attendant). For couples or families, the income of all members is counted when figuring out the 30% amount.
Considerations about building certificates. If someone is on a waiting list for several places and moves into a HUD building, he/she will no longer receive federal preference points. This will likely mean that he/she will no longer be able to move up on other waiting lists. It may also mean staying in a building that has a certificate in order to keep receiving HUD assistance. Finally, HUD conducts yearly inspections and writes yearly contracts for a particular building. It's very difficult to move sometime between those yearly contracts and keep your certificate.