Section 8 waiting list

How long is the section 8 waiting list?

Each state has several housing authorities. The length of each section 8 waiting list may vary greatly. In San Fransisco for example, the waiting list is about 9 years long.

In 2007 in St. Louis, MO the demand to get a place on the waiting list for Section 8 vouchers was so great, people rushed the front door. Police stepped in to disperse the crowd.

“We had to close the thing down because there were too many people,” said Cheryl Lovell, executive director of the housing authority. People really do need to apply for section 8 online instead of showing up in person.

“Lots of people want the assistance,” she added. “A lot of people need it.”

Over 8,000 names eventually landed on the waiting list that week in 2007. Now, seven years later, the application pool has nearly dried up.

The housing authority announced Thursday that a one-week window to pre-register for the income-based rental assistance program will open again July 14.

The agency has been planning for the event for months in hopes to avoid some of the previous struggles. The main difference will be an online option. Applications can be submitted 24 hours a day at slha.org.

“We don’t want to have people wait in line at our building to apply,” Lovell said. “We want them to do it at their convenience.”

The housing authority expects more applicants this time around, perhaps 10,000. No new vouchers were issued from the middle of 2012 through 2013 for a section 8 application because of funding cuts.

Section 8 is one of many government subsidized housing programs for low-income people and those with disabilities. Recipients pay 30 percent of their income in rent; the government pays the remainder directly to the landlord. Renters find their own housing from a list of properties in the community that meet the standards of the program.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds the program; local housing authorities manage it on the ground.

Lovell said Congress ultimately decides the speed of getting through the waiting list.

“It takes us seven years to fund it,” she said, speaking of waiting lists for a section 8 application. “It’s not that we sit on these applications. We have to have slots. You have to have funding available.”

The Housing Authority of St. Louis County uses a lottery system for its Section 8 waiting list.

Susan Rollins, director of the agency, said she wants to avoid the stampede situation that erupted in Atlanta in recent years and left people injured.

“Because there are so many people in need, we have gone to a lottery system,” she said. “We think it’s a fair way to get it done.”

When prospects that completed a section 8 housing applicationare called from the Section Eight Lottery Waiting List, they must attend a group orientation briefing. Briefings last approximately 2 hours. All household members, 17 years of age and older are asked to attend. Prospects failing to appear or not receiving approval to be called at a later date will be removed from the Section Eight Lottery Waiting List.

During the briefing, the Housing Choice Voucher program is explained by the Section Eight Department. Caseworkers discuss the program requirements and the responsibilities of tenants and landlords. Forms authorizing the Housing Authority to obtain information regarding income and assets are signed by the prospect. A release form is signed by the prospect and each member 17 years of age and older to check criminal records. Most of these precautions take affect once someone has submitted their application after they apply for section 8 online.

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