Families who have an income around 50% or less of the median income in Phoenix are eligible for Section 8 housing vouchers, which give the U.S. government authorization to cover some of their rent.
Created in the 1970s, the Section 8 program is designed to help disabled individuals, low-income families, and elderly people access affordable housing. You can pay 40% or less of your monthly income in rent if you have a Section 8 voucher—the rest is paid by the government.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get through the Section 8 program. Finding Section 8 housing can seem impossible due to long wait times, overburdened systems, and massive amounts of paperwork.
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Phoenix. We’ll go over the basics of the Section 8 housing program, the requirements to qualify in Phoenix, and break down the process of applying for a voucher, apartment hunting, and keeping your Section 8 tenancy.
What is Section 8 housing?
Section 8 is an affordable housing program run by the federal government to allow low-income families, disabled people, and elderly people to have some of their rent covered by the government. Its name comes from Section 8 found in the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act, which is how the housing voucher program was established.
This is how Section 8 works:
- Eligible tenants can submit applications to their local housing authority for project-based vouchers or housing choice vouchers to qualify for rental assistance.
- Project-based vouchers are attached to specific properties, and landlords are allowed to assign certain housing units as low-income dwellings.
- Housing choice vouchers allow tenants to live in an apartment of their choosing, as long as it fits the specifications of the voucher.
- Vouchers are assigned by the housing authority for a certain number of bedrooms based on family composition and size.
- Tenants applying for housing with a voucher can’t be required to pay any more than 40% of their income in rent—the government pays the remainder back to the government.
Section 8 obligations
Tenants, landlords, and local housing authorities all have certain obligations and responsibilities under the Section 8 program. Here is what each party involved is responsible for:
Provide accurate and complete documentation
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
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Key Takeaway The government will pay over half of your rent if you qualify for Section 8 housing—but be prepared for long wait times and an excess of red tape.
What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in Phoenix?
Section 8 housing in Phoenix, Arizona is managed by the
City of Phoenix Housing Department (COPHD). To qualify for Section 8 housing vouchers in Phoenix, there are federal requirements set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that you will need to meet first.
To qualify, you have to be at least 18 years old and either a U.S. citizen or a documented immigrant. Your application can be rejected if you have ever been evicted for a serious violation, especially if the violation involved drug use or methamphetamine manufacturing. You will be denied if you are a convicted sex offender.
To qualify for Section 8 housing vouchers, your income cannot exceed 50% of the median income of the place you reside in. When calculating income, HUD includes the following:
- Alimony and child support
- Business income
- Social security benefits
- Welfare assistance
There are other types of income that can contribute to your total income count. You can determine your income with this
As of 2020, the median household income in Phoenix is $60,914. However, the income limits to qualify for Section 8 housing depend on your family size—and remember that federal law requires COPHD to give 75% of its vouchers to applicants who have an income of 30% or less than the median income. This table displays the qualifying income levels based on family size in Phoenix.
Very low income (50%)
The COPHD will consider other factors besides income and family size. Your application may be prioritized if you have children, elderly family members, or disabled family members. You could also have higher priority if you are currently unhoused.
How to apply for Section 8 housing in Phoenix
To apply for Section 8 housing in Phoenix, the first step is submitting an online pre-application to the COPHD to get on the waiting list. For the pre-application, you will need to provide your name, address or contact information, household or family size, qualifications, and any racial or ethnic designations of head of household.
Once you reach the top of the waiting list, you’ll need to complete a much more detailed full application. Be prepared to provide the following information on your application:
- Family members expected to live in the unit
- Allowable expense information
- Anticipated amounts and sources of income
- Information about any special housing needs
- Current phone/mailing contact information
- Family data required to complete HUD Form 50058
You will have to notify COPHD of any changes to your preference factors, family composition, or income right away. When your eligibility has been determined, COPHD will have you come in for a briefing to describe your responsibilities in the program. You will then receive your voucher, as well as paperwork to request approval for your housing.
How to find Section 8 housing in Phoenix
It’s important to document everything in your housing search—submitted applications, meetings with landlords, and everything else. Keeping records will come to the rescue if you can’t find housing within the 180-day period and need to apply for an extension. If you can prove to COPHD that you have been actively searching for housing, they’re more likely to grant an extension. If you come across any housing listings that say “no section 8,” report them to the COPHD.
Make sure you send a copy of your new lease agreement to COPHD with your “request for tenancy approval” documents when you find an apartment.
The COPHD will send someone to your new home to inspect it after you move in to make sure it qualifies as “decent housing.” COPHD will conduct annual inspections and recertifications to ensure both you and your home meet all of the requirements.
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What is the most Section 8 will pay?
You can’t be required to pay more than 40% of your income in rent under Section 8. The program will cover the rest or up to 60% of your monthly income. The exact amount depends on family size, income, and your area’s fair market rent.
How much is a 2 bedroom Section 8 voucher in Phoenix?
A 2-bedroom Section 8 voucher in Phoenix will typically pay an average amount of $1,290.
Do I have to accept Section 8 in Arizona?
Landlords in Arizona are not legally required to accept Section 8 vouchers. However, it is illegal for them to refuse to rent to you solely based on your income or if you have a disability.