How to Apply for Section 8 in California

A Section 8 application in California is used when low-income families want to receive benefits from the housing choice voucher program. Section 8 is an extremely popular program that provides rental assistance to low-income families. Because it is such a popular program, the public housing agencies (PHAs) that distribute vouchers usually cannot serve every applicant right away. Therefore, when families apply for Section 8, they will usually be placed on a waiting list until the PHA can provide vouchers. If a waiting list becomes too full, the PHA may close it and stop accepting applications during that time. 

When you apply for low income housing through the Section 8 program, your initial application will simply get you on the waiting list in most cases unless a PHA is able to assist you immediately. You are usually allowed to submit your initial CA Section 8 application online, through the mail or in person. However, once you are selected from the waiting list, PHAs will require you to submit a full application with more detail and attend an in-person meeting. The steps required to apply for Section 8 housing in CA can vary from one PHA to the next, but before you get started, it is important to review the basic instructions for each application method in the Sections below. 

How to Apply for Section 8 Online in California

Many PHAs in California allow you to apply for online low income housing, but it is necessary to contact your local PHA to learn if this method is available. Visiting a PHA’s website will also tell you whether there is an online application method. When you apply online for Section 8, you will need to provide basic information about yourself and your family members, such as your Social Security Numbers, names, dates of birth and gross annual income. 

It is important that you only submit one housing choice voucher application, as duplicate submissions may be deleted. In other words, applying more than once online will not increase your chances of being selected from the wait list. After your application is complete, the PHA’s website may provide a confirmation page that includes an identification number. Be sure to print this confirmation (if provided) and keep it in your records. 

In many cases, PHAs that accept a CA Section 8 application online will allow you to check the status of your application or update your information by logging into the website. Even some PHAs that do not initially offer an online application method may allow you to log into their website to update your information after applying. 

How to Apply for Low Income Housing in California by Mail

A low income housing application can also be submitted through the mail. Some PHAs will allow you to print a form from their website, while others request that you pick up a form in person or call the office to have an application mailed to you. When filling out a paper form, keep in mind that your initial application will usually only get you placed on the waiting list. Therefore, a HUD housing application you send through the mail will usually only include basic information about your family’s composition and income. 

Once your California HUD Section 8 application is complete, simply mail it back to the PHA for processing. The mailing address can usually be found on the PHA’s website or it will be printed on the form itself. When applying for an open waiting list through the mail, keep in mind that there are often application deadlines to get placed on the list. In such cases, make sure your application is postmarked by the deadline in order for it to be considered. 

How to Apply for Housing Assistance in California in Person

Many PHAs accept Section 8 applications in person if you prefer to hand-deliver your completed form. When submitting your initial application, you usually will not be required to attend an in-person interview. Provided that your application includes all of the necessary information on your family composition, income and other details, you can simply drop off the application at your local PHA’s office. 

After your name is placed on the waiting list, you will need to fill out a full Section 8 housing application if your family is selected. Many PHAs require you to attend an in-person meeting when your name comes up on the waiting list so that your final eligibility can be determined. You will be required to bring in documents such as the following: 

  • Birth certificates
  • Social Security cards 
  • Pay stubs 
  • Marriage certificates and divorce decrees 
  • Child custody agreements 

Any other pertinent forms that verify the information on your full application should also provide when you attend your interview. 

When submitting your final CA Section 8 application in person, note that all of the adult members of your family must attend the interview and sign the application unless attending the meeting would present a hardship for any adult members of your family. 

What happens after you submit a Section 8 application in California?

After applying for Section 8, remember that your name will almost always be placed on a waiting list due to the fact that there are more applicants than housing vouchers available. Therefore, once you apply, you will receive a notification in writing of your wait list status. The time and date that you apply for Section 8 in California will determine your position on the waiting list. However, you may receive preferential placement if you are a resident of the city or county where you applied for assistance. PHAs may also give you a higher position on the wait list if you are a veteran, work in the county where you applied or the head of your household is a senior citizen.

You may wish to do a Section 8 application status check if you have been on a waiting list for a long period of time. You can usually contact the PHA or log into your profile on the PHA’s website if you applied for the wait list online. However, in most cases, PHAs will notify you by mail once your name reaches the top of a waiting list. 

It is also possible that a PHA will contact you via mail before your name comes up on the waiting list. Any time a PHA contacts you, it is crucial that you respond to its letters. Failing to respond may lead to your name being removed from the wait list. With that in mind, it is critical that you provide the PHA with your most current contact information if you move while on the waiting list. 

To contact your California HUD office, click here.