The Section 8 waitlist is opening for the first time in 15 years. Credit: Lewis J Goetz

The Section 8 waitlist is expected to reopen after 15 years. In early March, we spoke with a housing expert to explain the basics of the voucher process. Since then, we’ve been flooded with questions, making it even clearer how much this matters to our community. 

We reached out to dozens of community organizations to get some of your questions answered. Few housing experts had direct experience with Section 8, in part due to the long waiting list closure.

This gap in expertise on this issue underscores the challenges families may face when it is time to navigate the system, highlighting the need for direct assistance. A spokesperson from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which administers Section 8 housing, told us they would set up a hotline to help applicants complete the preliminary application.  

The city still hasn’t said when the list will reopen, but here’s what NYCHA was able to tell us: 

The most common Section 8 questions NYCHA gets

What will be their share of the rent?

The city says that families pay approximately 30% of their adjusted monthly income towards their rent share. NYCHA pays the rest. 

Can they rent a unit that is above the voucher payment standard?

Yes, you can rent a unit above the voucher payment standard. However, the voucher holder cannot pay more than 40% of the family’s adjusted gross income towards their rent at initial occupancy.

Can they port their voucher to another state?

Yes. A voucher holder may rent a unit outside of New York City through a process called “portability.” The voucher holder should ask to “port” their Section 8 voucher to any other public housing authority in the United States or its commonwealths or territories (e.g., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands) that administers a Section 8 program.

Can they add any person to the household after they have issued a voucher?

No. With the exception of births, adoption, and/or court-awarded custody of minors, no person may join an HCVP (Housing Choice Voucher Program) household unless NYCHA grants written approval.

Does the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) pay Security, broker fees, and Furniture allowance? 

NYCHA does not pay or provide assistance for security deposits and/or furniture allowances. NYCHA will pay broker fees only in the case where the tenant or a family member requires a reasonable accommodation for a disability.

Can they rent their current apartment with their voucher?

Yes. A voucher holder may be able to rent their current unit with a Section 8 voucher if the owner completes and signs the required documents in the rental packet and the unit passes an HQS inspection. NYCHA does not pay resident arrears.

Will NYCHA pay their arrears? 

No, NYCHA does not pay resident arrears.

NYCHA says it will publicly advertise in local newspapers when the Section 8 waitlist opens. Credit: Redd F

General questions

How do you get notified when the waitlist reopens? 

NYCHA does not have an alert system for the waitlist opening. But 10 days before the waitlist opens, NYCHA will publicly advertise the opening in local newspapers.  

Can migrants get Section 8 housing choice vouchers? 

At least one person in the household must have an eligible immigration status (be an eligible citizen or eligible non-citizen) to receive a voucher.

NYCHA says it will set up a hotline to help applicants complete the preliminary application once the wait list opens Credit: Dochub

Application process 

Will applications be online and in-person?

Yes. The fastest and easiest way to apply is online. Paper applications will only be made available as a reasonable accommodation.

Is this still the current document list applicants should plan on being able to provide? 

No documents need to be submitted by the applicant while filling out the preliminary application. However, as part of the eligibility process, applicants are required to complete a comprehensive application and upload essential vital documents and documents about income, assets, and expenses. A current document list will be provided with the invitation for eligibility.

Will this use a lottery system, or will everyone who qualifies be able to get on the list? 

Once the application period closes, the intent is to select enough applicants using a lottery process to meet NYCHA’s HCV [Housing Choice Voucher] issuance needs for at least the next 10 years.  

How long will it take applicants to find out if they’ve been approved for a voucher?

After the waitlist is created, applicants will receive notification of their placement on the waitlist.  NYCHA will then select applicants for an eligibility interview based on the established preferences and date of application placement. Due to this selection process, we are unable to specify an exact timeframe for applicant selection. All applicants will have access to the self-service portal where their application status can be monitored.

Do certain applicants get priority, like veterans, people who are homeless, and families with children?

Everyone is invited to apply to the Section 8 waitlist. Once the waitlist has been established, NYCHA will apply its existing preferences to the applicants selected through the lottery process.  A list of NYCHA’s waitlist preferences is located in the HCVP Administrative Plan.  

Veterans seeking a Section 8 voucher can apply through HUD’s [ U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program. For additional information, visit here.

NYCHA says the idea is to select enough applicants using a lottery process to meet their voucher issuance needs for at least the next 10 years.

Will there be updated eligibility requirements? Will there be changes to income, family size, or other qualifying factors? 

When applicants are invited for an eligibility interview, they must fill out an online application and submit essential documents along with income and expense documentation. During this phase, they have the opportunity to update their income, family information, and other qualifying factors.

If a person applying is pregnant, should they list their unborn child on the application? 

An unborn child is considered part of the family and is counted toward the household size. 

NYCHA says the idea is to select enough applicants using a lottery process to meet their voucher issuance needs for at least the next 10 years. Credit: Goh Rhy Yan

Waitlist management

How can applicants check their status on the waitlist? 

Once the waitlist is established, applicants will be notified and can check the status of their application via NYCHA’s Self-Service Portal.

What steps should be taken if my contact information changes after applying?

Applicants can update their contact information on NYCHA’s Self-Service portal after applying.

After getting a voucher

Do most people find a home within the 120-day period? 

Finding an apartment in NYC within 120 days can be challenging. Some households can successfully locate housing within 120 days.  

When people receive a Section 8 voucher, what is the toughest part for them in terms of finding housing?

The toughest part of finding housing is New York City’s low vacancy rate for affordable housing.  There are also challenges with source of income discrimination.  

Finding a home within the 120-day window after you get a voucher is challenging. Credit: Anthony Fomin

Housing options

For people who apply and get a voucher, are there any best practices to help them find a home?

There are many resources online that can be used to search for available units. Applicants should log on to NYCHA’s Self-Service Portal to view exclusive Section 8 listings from owners registered with NYCHA. Applicants can also search for a unit on Affordablehousing.com. 

What types of housing can Section 8 vouchers be used for in NYC (e.g., single-family vs. two-family homes)? 

Section 8 Vouchers can be used for the following types of dwelling:

  • Private Houses (1-5 family houses)
  •  Apartment buildings (including rent-stabilized units and SROs)
  • Cooperatives and condominiums.

Are there restrictions on neighborhoods or types of buildings?

There are no limitations on neighborhoods for renting units. However, if a voucher holder wishes to use their voucher outside the 5 boroughs, they must utilize the portability option.

Voucher holders can rent in any type of building. However, they cannot use their Section 8 voucher in a Public Housing unit.

How does the voucher amount get determined, and does it vary by family size or neighborhood?

The voucher amount is determined using a payment standard, which represents the maximum amount NYCHA will pay toward rent and utilities. The payment standard is generally assigned based on the family size.  For high-opportunity neighborhoods, NYCHA applies an exception payment standard. Click this link for a listing of the applicable zip codes.  

After you’ve found a home

After someone has received a voucher and is living in the home, what happens if another adult moves in (like a partner or parent)? Are they allowed to change their housing composition? 

Any changes in the family composition must be promptly reported to NYCHA.  Except for births, adoption, and/or court-awarded custody of minors, no person may join the household unless NYCHA grants written approval. 

What happens when a child turns 18? Are they able to remain in the home, or does the parent risk losing their voucher? 

There is no change to the household composition or risk of losing a voucher when a child reaches the age of 18. 

Support services

Does NYCHA offer any counseling or support services available to help applicants through the application process? If not, is there a list of organizations that NYCHA recommends?

NYCHA will establish a hotline number to aid applicants in completing the preliminary application.

Can applicants receive assistance in finding suitable housing once they receive a voucher?

After 60 days of search time, NYCHA’s Housing Navigation Unit will assist first-time applicants with housing resources.

Appeals process

Is there an appeals process if an application is denied, and how does it work?

There is no appeal process if an application is denied during the preliminary application stage.  However, we do have an appeal process if an applicant is denied at the eligibility stage.

Future of the program

Once this list closes again, is there a determination of how long until it reopens? 

No. At this time, it is unknown when the next Section 8 waitlist reopening will occur once the impending process is completed.   

Are there plans to expand the number of vouchers available in the future? 

NYCHA intends to maximize the use of its current available vouchers and welcomes opportunities to obtain additional vouchers.  

We will continue to cover the Section 8 housing voucher process as we learn more. For now, you can visit the city website here and watch the NYCHA housing choice voucher briefing here.

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2 Comments

  1. If you have City phefs voucher can you get section 8 voucher and close the City phefs voucher. I’ve been on the waiting list for years do I have to reapply.

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