How to Apply for Section 8 in Illinois

An Illinois Section 8 application for benefits in the state of Illinois is used to obtain benefits for the Public Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8. The program is administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD. HUD works in conjunction with Illinois Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to conduct the application process and determine which applicants are approved, denied and/or placed onto a waiting list. How to sign up for Section 8 is important information to learn, as submitting incorrect information can result in delays or you and your household having to learn to appeal a denial.

To apply for Section 8 housing, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) oversees the process in conjunction with Illinois PHAs and HUD. You can visit the various websites to learn more about how to enter the application process and what you may expect once in the queue. The low-income housing application for Section 8 is available online. However, you may not submit it digitally. Continue to read the article below to learn how to apply for low income housing in the state of Illinois under the HUD Public Housing Choice Voucher Program, also knowns as Section 8, or HCV in Illinois. 

How to Apply for Section 8 Online in Illinois 

The Section 8 application for Illinois residents may be found online and downloaded, however the state PHAs do not provide a mechanism for submitting the application digitally. Illinois is not one of the states that accept applications online. You may download, print, and then fill the forms out before either mailing them in or delivering them in person to a PHA office location nearest you. Once you have completed the application and sent it in or delivered it, you must then proceed to the next phase of the application process, the interview. 

How to Apply for Illinois Section 8 Housing by Mail

To apply for Section 8 in IL via the U.S. Postal Service, it is necessary to first locate the PHA office to which you intend to submit your application. You can find the closest PHA office on the HUD website. The first stop for the HUD Section 8 application process by mail is simply to fill out the application form which covers some basic information, such past employment history, income information, and information regarding the applicant’s family size. Once this is mailed in, applicants await a reply from HUD and/or their PHA to see if they are approved for an in-person interview with their PHA office. Only after their HUD housing application is met with approval for an in-person interview will they be asked to furnish additional, detailed information which will be necessary to support with a variety of documentation that they must bring with them to the interview. The documentation that applicants should collect and ready for their interview includes: 

  • Proof of your identification – This documentation is necessary and you must provide it for everyone in your household. You may provide the following forms for identification to the PHA with which you are working: 
    • Passports for anyone who is not a citizen of the U.S.
    • Driver’s licenses
    • State ID cards
    • Birth certificates for all family members 
    • Social Security cards for all household members 
  • Citizenship or immigration status – Section 8 applications mandate that all applicants and members of the household receiving benefits are either citizens of the United States—naturalized or natural-born—or are otherwise legally permitted to make the U.S. their country of residence. Additionally, they must provide proof that they legally reside in the state of Illinois using any of the following documentation: 
    • Birth certificates for all family members 
    • Passports for anyone who is not a United States citizen
    • Green cards or other immigration documentation for registered immigrants and aliens
    • Verification of immigration status for all immigrants in the household
  • Proof of income – A Section 8 application relies heavily on income verification. Being able to document the income for a household is necessary in order to receive Public Housing Choice Voucher benefits. You may provide the following documents as means for proving income: 
    • Pay check stubs, W2 forms, tax returns from previous years 
    • Bank statements
    • Benefits award letters or documentation of public assistance 
    • Information on any assets you may have at your disposal
    • Social Security verification notice with a proof of benefits 

How to Apply for Illinois Section 8 Housing in Person

Applying for Section 8 in person in Illinois provides a less convenient way of managing the process, but it comes with some benefits. For one, when you apply for low income housing in person at your local PHA, you are able to ask for help from PHA staff members who can help you with the paperwork and answer questions so you can avoid errors which may result in a delay of the decision on your application. To find the PHA office you wish to work with, simply visit the HUD website or the Illinois DCFS website to look up the location of the one most convenient for you. The PHA may have access to Section8 housing lists you can view to help you narrow down your options. You can also bring your supporting documentation with you to the PHA office to ensure that it is complete, accurate and adequate for the application process. Remember to bring any supporting documentation with you so that you can confirm they are current, complete, and adequate for your application. Included in the documentation you will need are the following: 

  • Proof of your identification – This documentation is necessary and you must provide it for everyone in your household. You may provide the following forms for identification to the PHA with which you are working: 
    • Passports for anyone who is not a citizen of the United States 
    • Driver’s licenses
    • State ID cards
    • Birth certificates for all family members 
    • Social Security cards for all household members 
  • Citizenship or immigration status – Section 8 applications mandate that all applicants and members of the household receiving benefits are either citizens of the United States—naturalized or natural-born—or are otherwise legally permitted to make the U.S. their country of residence. Additionally, they must provide proof that they legally reside in the state of Illinois using any of the following documentation: 
    • Birth certificates for all family members 
    • Passports for anyone who is not a United States citizen
    • Green cards or other immigration documentation for registered immigrants and aliens
    • Verification of immigration status for all immigrants in the household
  • Proof of income – A Section 8 application relies heavily on income verification. Being able to document the income for a household is necessary in order to receive Public Housing Choice Voucher benefits. You may provide the following documents as means for proving income: 
    • Pay check stubs, W2 forms, tax returns from previous years 
    • Bank statements
    • Benefits award letters or documentation of public assistance 
    • Information on any assets you may have at your disposal
    • Social Security verification notice with a proof of benefits 

What Happens After You Submit a Section 8 Application Form in Illinois

Once you submit your Section 8 application, you are most likely to be placed on a wait list. Navigating the waitlist can be difficult without the right information regarding how HUD determines priority. There is far more demand for Section 8 housing than there are funds to for applicants available. Applicants can check on the status of their HUD housing application of their local HUD office website, or they can visit in person for an update. Wait times may vary quite a lot depending on the area in which an applicant lives, and may be anywhere from several weeks to a few years. 

Some Section 8 applications may be denied. This can happen for different reasons. Sometimes denials are because of incorrect information or supporting documentation. In this case, resubmission is important to handle quickly. In other cases, a denial is the result of poor feedback from a prior landlord or a negative background check. A denial letter should detail the reasons for the denial along with instructions on how to file an appeal. A typical appeal must take place within 20 days of receipt of the letter unless otherwise stated. A different panel of reviewers conducts the appeal, and if they uphold the denial, there is no provision for a second appeal. 

Contact your local Illinois HUD office here.