Section 8 in
Milwaukeeis a program that allows you to pay no more than 30% of your income in rent if you receive a voucher from the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee. To apply, you must not make more than 50% of the area’s median income.
The federal government created the Section 8 program to help vulnerable people access safe and decent housing who otherwise would have difficulty in doing so. However, the Section 8 application process is often challenging to navigate.
Extensive paperwork, a huge wait list, and overloaded systems can make accessing a voucher difficult, to say the least.
What is Section 8 housing?
Section 8 housing is a federal affordable housing program that pays for a portion of the rent for low-income families, elderly adults, and the disabled. The voucher program got its name from Section 8 of the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act.
Here’s how Section 8 works:
- Eligible tenants can qualify for housing choice vouchers or project-based vouchers through an application with their local housing authority.
- Project-based vouchers only qualify you to live in certain complexes designated as low-income dwellings. They also qualify landlords to designate their units as such.
- Housing choice vouchers allow qualifying families to live in any rental unit that fits the criteria outlined on the voucher.
- Your voucher will qualify you for a certain number of bedrooms depending on how many people are in your family and if they have any special conditions.
- Renters who get a housing choice voucher are guaranteed to pay no more than 30% of their income to the landlord. The rest is covered by the housing authority.
Section 8 obligations
Under the Section 8 program, landlords, tenants, and the local housing authorities carry certain obligations. Here’s what each group is responsible for:
Provide full and correct documentation
Determine applicants’ eligibility and issue vouchers
Locate appropriate housing and complete all necessary paperwork before the voucher expires
Comply with fair housing laws
Approve units, rental amounts, and leases
Pay rent on time and attend all required appointments
Complete all needed repairs and maintenance
Inspect subsidized units at least once a year
Notify the housing authority of any changes to income level or number of family members
Provide housing authority with documentation of any notices to tenants, including eviction notices
Ensure that tenants and landlords comply with the requirements of the program
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Key Takeaway The government will pay the majority of your rent if you qualify for Section 8 housing. However, you’ll have to trudge through a lot of red tape and face considerable wait times to get these benefits.
What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in Milwaukee?
Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM)manages Section 8 housing in Milwaukee. There are both local and federal requirements established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to meet in order to qualify for Section 8 vouchers in Milwaukee.
To apply, you must be at least 18 years old and either a US citizen or a documented immigrant to qualify. Your application will be denied if you’re a convicted sex offender. Your application can be rejected if you’ve ever been evicted because of a severe lease violation like drug use or making methamphetamine.
Your income cannot be more than 50% of the median income in your area. HUD counts the following for your income calculations:
- Business income
- Welfare assistance
- Social security benefits
- Alimony and child support
Review this listto help determine your income because other types of payments can also be counted towards your total.
The median household income in Milwaukee was $43,125 in 2021. Please note that the exact income limit requirements depend on your family size.
However, federal law requires the HACM to reserve 75% of vouchers for extremely low income applicants (i.e., salaries 30% or less of the median income).
The table below breaks down your income limits based on the number of people in your household:
Very low income (50%)
Extremely low income (30%)
The HACM will take into account additional factors beyond family size and income. If you have children or elderly or disabled people in your household, you may move up higher on the waitlist.
You may also climb up the waitlist if you have extenuating circumstances such as being homeless.
How to apply for Section 8 housing in Milwaukee
If you meet program requirements, you’ll be sent a letter of confirmation to notify you that you’re on the waiting list. After this notice, you likely won’t receive word from the HACM until you’re off the waiting list, which could be as long as 12-18 months or more.
While you wait, notify HACM immediately if there are any changes to your income, number or condition of household members, or contact address.
When your application finally reaches the top of the list, HACM will ask you to meet them to certify you as eligible. You’ll receive your paperwork and voucher to request approval for whatever apartment you apply for.
How to find Section 8 housing in Milwaukee
Be sure to keep extensive records in your search for housing. You’ll want to include meetings with landlords, applications submitted, and any other steps you take. You can also report any listings that say “no section 8” to the housing authority.
Having records of your search can help you if you cannot find housing in time and need to apply for a 30-day extension. HACM will be more willing to extend your search time if you prove that you’ve been tenacious in your hunt for a place to stay.
After finding an apartment, send a copy of your lease agreement to HACM and include the “request for tenancy approval” documents with your voucher.
An inspector from the housing authority will be sent to ensure that your new place meets the definition of “decent housing” after moving into your unit.
The HACM will also carry out annual inspections and recertifications to ensure that you and the landlord remain compliant with the rules of the program.
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