Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing in California, PA

In California, PA, your household can apply for Section 8 housing assistance through the Washington County Housing Authority.
Written by Jessie Devine
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
In California,
Pennsylvania
, Section 8 housing is known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Your household can get on the waiting list if you qualify under the program's requirements.
In the 1970s, the Section 8 program was created to help very low-income households, the elderly, and those with disabilities find stable housing. Its name changed to the Housing Choice Voucher Program in 1998. If your household meets income limit requirements and other regulations, you often pay 40% or less of your income in rent—even if rent is much higher—and the government will pay the rest. 
Section 8 in
California, PA
, is a voucher system, meaning the process can be exhausting and long. There are a bunch of hoops to jump through, and you have to take a lot of time out of your stressed schedule to make sure all the forms are filled out correctly.
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What is Section 8 housing?

Section 8 is the well-known name for the affordable housing program created by the Federal Government. A city’s local housing authority runs Section 8 to help people in need. Nowadays, most local housing authorities call Section 8 a Housing Choice Voucher Program.
The goal of Section 8 housing is to assist low-income families, disabled people, and the elderly, giving them access to adequate housing. The name Section 8 comes from the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act, which is where the program comes from.
Here’s how to navigate Section 8: 
  • First, find out if you and your household are eligible. We’ll get to that in a minute.
  • The Housing Choice Voucher Program in California, PA, is tenant-based, which means voucher recipients may rent an apartment that meets the requirements.
  • Section 8 is administered by local housing authorities. In California, PA, that’s the
    Washington County Housing Authority (WCHA)
    .
  • Your family’s size and composition determine the size (by the number of bedrooms) of your Section 8 apartment.
  • Under federal law, people can’t pay more than 40% of their income in rent, so the program and government will cover the remainder.  

Section 8 obligations

Section 8 housing in California, PA, is complicated and subject to many rules and regulations. This red tape applies to tenants, landlords, and local housing authorities. Check out the table below to get an idea of who has to do what.
Tenant
Landlord
Housing authority
Provide accurate and complete documentation
Screen tenants
Determine applicants’ eligibility and issue vouchers
Find suitable housing and complete the 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 necessary repairs and maintenance
Inspect subsidized units annually
Notify the housing authority of any changes in income or household
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 If your household qualifies for a Section 8 voucher program, you’ll get a lot of help with your rent—but there are a lot of steps between here and there.

What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in California?

The requirements for Section 8 housing in California, PA, are set forth by the federal government and the Washington County Housing Authority. To qualify, your household must meet both sets of standards.
Some basic federal guidelines dictate that you must be 18 years of age or older, a US citizen, or documented immigrant. You can’t be a convicted sex offender. Also, if you’ve ever been evicted from subsidized housing, especially for drug-related reasons, you'll have a hard time getting approved.
At the local level, you must meet the WCHA income limit—meaning your household income can’t exceed 50% of the median income. The local housing authority must provide at least 75% of its vouchers to households with incomes at or below 30% of the median income.
HUD also considers the following as income: 
  • Employment wages
  • Business income
  • Interest and dividends 
  • Welfare and other social programs
  • Social security 
  • Alimony and child support
You can also
look at this list
to see what else HUD considers in their income calculations.  The median income currently in California, PA, is $37,369. The income limits for your household will depend on your family’s size, which you can view in the table below.
Family size
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Extremely low income-30%
$17850
$20400
$22950
$26500
$31040
$35580
$40120
$44660
Very low income-50%
$29700
$33950
$38200
$42400
$45800
$49200
$52600
$56000
Low income-80%
$47500
$54300
$61100
$67850
$73300
$78750
$84150
$89600
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WHCA will give preference to applicants who are currently experiencing homelessness, live in substandard housing, pay more than 50% of their income toward rent, and those who were involuntarily displaced from their homes by government action.
As of this writing, the application for the Housing Choice Voucher Program in California, PA, is closed. It was last open from March 14-March 18, 2022. Keep an eye on the
WCHA Housing Choice Voucher Program website
for the next announcement.

How to apply for Section 8 housing in California, PA

Right now, the waitlist for Section 8 housing in California, PA, is closed, so it is not currently possible to apply. But to prepare you for the next opening, we’ll walk you through what the process looks like.
During the previous application period, WCHA accepted waitlist applications for four days between 11:00 am and 3:30 pm at this address: Washington Crown Center, 1500 West Chestnut Street, Washington, PA (near the Main Entrance). 
Applications could be obtained, filled out, and returned between these hours and were not accepted outside of these hours.
Initial applications are only to get onto the waitlist. Once your household is on the waitlist, you must wait for your name to be reached. When it is, there will be a final application and verification process to confirm your eligibility. You’ll have to provide documentation to confirm your income and your identity.
When your verification is complete, you’ll receive a voucher, and you can start looking for Section 8 housing in California, PA.

How to find Section 8 housing in California, PA

The Housing Choice Voucher Program in California, PA a Tenant-Based Voucher Program, meaning you can rent from any landlord in California—and you’re not limited to public housing options. The apartment must meet WCHA program requirements for safety and cleanliness, and the rent must be of comparable value to similar apartments in the area for it to pass.
While the Section 8 housing California waitlist is closed right now, it’s never a bad idea to keep your eye on the rental market. Check out
Affordable Housing
, where you can search by home type and zip code, and you can also indicate that you have a Section 8 voucher to find a Section 8 friendly landlord.
Once you have a voucher and find your apartment, fill out an application as you would for any other apartment. When you’re approved, you and the landlord will enter into a lease agreement, and WCHA will provide the rental assistance directly to the landlord.
Key Takeaway The Section 8 housing waitlist in California is currently closed, but you can still look for affordable housing through other resources.

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FAQs

Under Section 8 federal law, you can’t pay more than 40% of your income in rent, and in California, PA, that number is lower (more like 30%). That means that Section 8 will cover the rest. The exact dollar amount varies depending on your income, family size, and the rent prices in your area.
This varies slightly for different housing authorities, but the current payment standard for a two-bedroom apartment in PA is between $1,038 and $1,268.
While many states have outlawed discrimination against tenants, Pennsylvania has not. It is legal for landlords to refuse a Housing Choice Voucher as valid income and therefore reject a tenant for the inability to afford rent.
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