Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing in Atlanta

You need to earn less than 50% of the median income in Atlanta to qualify for Section 8 housing—but the waitlist hasn’t been open since 2017.
Written by Heather Bernhard
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Families whose income is 50% or less of Atlanta’s median income are eligible for the Section 8 housing voucher program, which provides affordable housing to low and moderately-low-income individuals and families. 
  • You’re eligible if you make 50% or less than Atlanta’s median income.
  • Some violations disqualify you from the program.
  • With a voucher, the housing authority pays your landlord directly.
  • The waitlist for housing in the city of Atlanta last opened in March 2017.

What is Section 8 housing?

What: Section 8 is a federal affordable housing program built to combat expensive real estate and help people find housing. The name comes from Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937. 
By: The program is administered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with help from the local government.
For: The program provides eligible individuals (including low-income, elderly, or disabled) with monthly rental assistance in the form of a subsidy. 
How: The Housing Choice Voucher program is a form of government rental assistance. If you apply for a housing voucher and are approved, your local housing authority will send payments directly to your property owner, as the voucher covers some or all of your rent payment. 
Here’s a closer look at how Section 8 works: 
  • Housing vouchers are issued by Public Housing Agencies (PHAs).
  • Interested individuals can apply to their local PHA for a housing choice voucher or project-based voucher to qualify for rental assistance.
  • Housing choice vouchers allow tenants to live in any eligible apartment, townhouse, or single-family home.
  • Project-based vouchers are attached to specific units designated by a landlord to rent to low-income families or individuals.
  • Vouchers are assigned for a specific number of bedrooms based on family size and composition.
Price: In Atlanta, tenants who receive housing with a housing choice voucher never pay more than 30% of their adjusted monthly income in rent.

Section 8 obligations for Georgia landlords, tenants, and local housing authority

Under the Section 8 program, tenants, landlords, and local housing authorities all carry certain obligations. Here’s what each party is responsible for: 
Housing authority
Provide accurate and complete documentation
Screen tenants
Determine applicants’ eligibility and issue vouchers
Find suitable housing and complete all required paperwork before the voucher expires
Comply with fair housing laws
Approve units, rental amounts, and leases
Pay rent promptly and attend all required appointments
Complete all necessary repairs and maintenance
Inspect subsidized units annually
Notify the housing authority of any changes in income or family composition
Provide housing authority with documentation of any notices to tenants, including eviction notices
Ensure that both tenants and landlords comply with program rules
Key Takeaway A Housing Choice Voucher will allow you to live in the apartment or home of your choice, while a Project-based Voucher requires you to live in a specific unit. 

What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in Atlanta?

Atlanta Housing Authority
(AH) is the institution that manages Section 8 housing in metro Atlanta. In order to receive Section 8 vouchers in Georgia, you need to meet HUD’s definition of a family (one or more individuals who live together).
Here is the basic eligibility criteria for family members:
Eligible age: You must be 18 years of age or older.
Eligible citizenship status: You must be either a US citizen or an eligible immigrant to qualify. 
Eligible employment status: Any non-elderly, non-disabled household member must maintain employment of over 20 hours a week, or participate in a combination of job training/part-time work.
Be aware that your application will be denied by the AH if:
Lease violation: You’ve ever been evicted from housing in the program for a serious lease violation.
Sex offender: You are a registered sex offender. 
Drug violation: You have been evicted from federally funded housing for a drug violation in the last three years.

Income requirements for Section 8 housing in Atlanta

Most importantly, you need to earn less than 50% of the median income for the county in which you live. As of 2021, the median household income in Atlanta is $69,164. 
Here are the factors that HUD includes when calculating income: 
  • Wages
  • Business income
  • Interest
  • Welfare assistance
  • Social security benefits
  • Alimony and child support
Other types of income may be counted in your total income amount, so
take a close look at this list
to determine your income. 
Furthermore, federal law requires the AH to give 75% of its vouchers to applicants whose income is 30% or less of the median income. 

Family size and income requirements for Section 8 housing

The exact income limits differ based on your family size and where you live. Here’s a table that breaks down qualifying income based on family size in Atlanta: 
Family size
Very low income (50%)
Extremely low income (30%)
MORE: How to get a home and auto insurance bundle to save money

How to apply for Section 8 housing in Atlanta

Wait for the waitlist: In Atlanta, you may only apply for Section 8 housing when the waiting list is open and applications are being accepted. Atlanta Housing must give public notice of when the waitlist will open and where they are accepting applications. 
AH advertises this information in many places:
  • Local newspapers
  • Radio ads
  • Social service agencies
  • Official
    AH webpage
The most recent opening of the Housing Choice Voucher for AH Section 8 housing waitlist closed in March 2017. 
After you apply: You will receive an email to let you know whether you were selected for the waiting list at the email address you provide on your application. Then, when a voucher becomes available, you will receive an appointment to determine your eligibility. 
If you apply and later need to change your contact information, you must send requests in writing to: 
Waiting List Manager
Atlanta Housing
230 John Wesley Dobbs Ave. NE
Atlanta, GA 30303

How to find Section 8 housing in Atlanta with a voucher

Time period: 60 days (with possible extension)
Once you become a voucher holder, you have 60 days to find housing. AH will automatically extend your search time by another 60 days if you need more time. 
Resources: Use
to find a place with a rent amount that fits your budget, or try the
Georgia Department of Community Affairs
. With a housing voucher, you can choose from a variety of housing units:
  • Apartments
  • Townhomes
  • Single-family homes
Lease and inspection requirements: They must offer a 12-month lease and undergo yearly inspection by a representative of the program. Generally, three months before the end of the lease, an inspector will stop by to make sure the unit still meets program requirements and meet with the renter to make sure they are still eligible for assistance. 
Comply and pay: Voucher recipients must comply with the terms of their lease and pay their rent on time to continue receiving aid. Consider Georgia renters insurance to protect your possessions.
MORE: How to settle into a new house
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