Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing in Columbus

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The Section 8 housing program can provide much-needed rental assistance to low-income households in Columbus. For those who qualify, the federal government will cover a portion of their rent expenses.
Established in the 1970s, Section 8 helps make decent housing more affordable for families, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Those who qualify for assistance through Section 8 typically pay 30-40% of their monthly rent cost.
While the program can help lift a major burden for those who qualify, the application process can be complicated with long wait times. To help orient you with the process, car and renters insurance comparison app Jerry is here to give you the rundown on Section 8 housing in Columbus. 
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What is Section 8 housing?

The Section 8 housing program is geared toward making housing more affordable for low-income families and people who are elderly or have disabilities. The federal government pays a portion of rent for those who are eligible.
Section 8 was established when Congress passed the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, which amended the U.S. Housing Act of 1937. 
As of March 2022, 753,762 households in the United States and 32,836 households in Ohio were participants in public housing programs.
Here’s how Section 8 works: 
  • Prospective tenants can apply to a location’s public housing agency (PHA) for housing choice vouchers or project-based vouchers
  • Housing choice vouchers allow tenants to choose a rental that matches the qualifications specified on their vouchers 
  • Project-based vouchers are tied to a specific property that’s designated as low-income housing
  • Approved tenants will be given vouchers from the local PHA which specifies a specific number of bedrooms the rental can have based on family size and composition 
  • Tenants who receive a housing voucher must pay 30% of their monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities. If a household moves into a rental where rent is more than their payment standard, they can’t pay more than 40% of their income for rent

Section 8 obligations

Under the Section 8 program, tenants, landlords, and local housing authorities all carry certain obligations. Here’s what each party is responsible for:
TenantLandlordHousing authority
Provide accurate and complete documentationProvide safe and sanitary housing at a reasonable priceDetermine applicants’ eligibility and issue vouchers
Find suitable housing based on requirements and complete all required paperwork before the voucher expiresScreen tenants, comply with fair housing lawsApprove units, rental amounts, and leases
Pay rent on time and attend all necessary appointmentsPerform necessary repairs and maintenanceInspect subsidized units annually
Inform housing authority of changes in income/family compositionProvide housing authority with documentation of any notices to tenants, including eviction noticesEnsure tenants and landlords comply with program requirements
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What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in Columbus?

In Columbus, Ohio, Section 8 housing is managed by the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA). To qualify for Section 8 housing, you’ll have to meet federal requirements for assistance, which are determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
To qualify for Section 8 assistance, you need to be age 18 or older and either a U.S. citizen or a documented immigrant. If you’ve been evicted for a serious lease violation in the past, like drug-related criminal activity, your application could be rejected. Applications from convicted sex offenders will be denied.
Generally, a family’s income must not be more than 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area where they’ll be living, but household size will also affect income limits to qualify for the program. The following are included when calculating income:
  • Wages
  • Business income
  • Welfare assistance
  • Alimony and child support
  • Social security benefits
  • Interest
For a more in-depth look at what’s included when calculating your income, review the list found here.
As of 2020, the median household income in Columbus was $54,902. The table below provides a look at how income limits fluctuate based on family size: INCOME LIMITS BY FAMILY SIZE
Family size12345678
LOW-INCOME (80%)$46,950$53,650$60,350$67,050$72,450$77,800$83,150$88,550
VERY LOW-INCOME (50%)$29,350$33,550$37,750$41,900$45,300$48,650$52,000$55,350
PRIORITY INCOME (30%)$17,650$20,150$22,650$25,150$27,200$29,200$31,200$33,200
Vouchers are limited based on the resources available, and the CMHA states that preference will be given to families and individuals with disabilities

How to apply for Section 8 housing in Columbus

You can apply for Section 8 housing in Columbus via the CMHA website. Be prepared to provide accurate income information, so make sure you’ve calculated that properly and have the proper documentation before submitting an application.
If anything changes after you submit your application or while you’re on the waiting list, you can visit the CMHA office to fill out a change of information form
As of March 2022, it takes up to 120 days for the CMHA to process an application. If you meet the requirements, you’ll get a confirmation letter that you’ve been placed on a waiting list. Wait times vary from location to location, but it’s not unusual to be on the waiting list for a year to two years. You can check with the CMHA to see current wait times.
While you’re waiting, don’t forget to inform the CMHA promptly of any income, household, or address changes!
Once your name gets to the top of that waiting list, you’ll be contacted by the CMHA to set up an in-person eligibility interview. If you’ve been approved, you’ll receive a voucher specifying what kind of rental unit you qualify for.
Key Takeaway Section 8 housing can provide much-needed rental assistance for low-income households, but it can take a long time to get off the waiting list.

How to find Section 8 housing in Columbus

Once you’ve received a voucher, make note of the expiration date—that’s how long you’ll have to find appropriate housing. 
To get started on your housing search, you can use AffordableHousing.com or this HUD resource map
Here are a few things to expect as you embark on your Section 8 housing search: 
  • Document everything: That includes housing applications submitted and communications or meetings with landlords. This will help your case if you end up needing to apply for an extension
  • Give the CMHA a copy of your rental agreement, along with the other applicable documents you received with your voucher
  • Once you’ve found a place, the CMHA will send an inspector to evaluate the unit and make sure it meets the requirements
Applying for Section 8 housing is a lengthy and complicated process. If you have questions that come up along the way, reach out to the CMHA for clarification. You can also review these general tips for a smoother ride as you navigate the Section 8 process.

How to save money on car and renters insurance in Columbus

To say that finding secure, affordable housing is difficult—not to mention time-consuming—would be an understatement. Fortunately, with Jerry, saving on insurance payments doesn’t have to be. 
With the Jerry app, all you have to do is answer a few quick questions, which takes under a minute, and then, you can start reviewing personalized quotes from top insurance providers to find the right amount of coverage for you at the right rate.
Columbus, Ohio, drivers pay an average of $2,441 per year for single-car insurance. Meanwhile, the average Jerry user saves $887 per year on car insurance, and you could find additional savings when bundling with a renters insurance policy, which can go a long way when finances are tight.
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The maximum amount of Section 8 housing rental assistance you can receive will depend on your income, family size, and rent costs in your area. 
Tenants who receive a housing voucher must pay 30% of their monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities. If a household moves into a rental where rent is more than their payment standard, they can’t pay more than 40% of their income for rent.
For the 2022 fiscal year, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom rental unit is about $1,032.
As a landlord in Columbus, denying a tenant’s application solely based on their Section 8 status would be considered illegal discrimination.

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