Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing in Pittsburgh

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The Section 8 housing program in Pittsburgh allows qualifying individuals to receive rental assistance from the government. To qualify, you’ll typically need an annual income that is less than 50% of the median income in Pittsburgh. 
Since the 1970s, the federal Section 8 program has been helping low-income families, disabled persons, and the elderly find affordable housing.
As helpful as it is, many people find that the Section 8 program is difficult to navigate. Securing a voucher requires mountains of paperwork, long wait times, and searching for a program-approved place to live. 
To make this lengthy task just a little bit easier, Jerry, your friendly neighborhood car, home, and renters insurance super app, has done the research for you and put together this useful guide on Section 8 housing in Pittsburgh, PA.

What is Section 8 housing?

Section 8 refers to the eighth section of the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act, which established a federal program for affordable housing assistance
While it is a federal program, Section 8 is managed at the local level. In Pittsburg, Section 8 is run by the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP). The HACP’s local enactment of Section 8 is called the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV)
Here’s how Section 8 works: 
  • Low-income individuals can apply for HCV vouchers if they believe that they may qualify for rental assistance
  • The HACP will review the application and approve or deny it based on whether the applicant meets the eligibility qualifications 
  • If approved for an HCV voucher, the tenant can use it for any apartment that meets the criteria listed on the voucher
  • If you have an HCV voucher, you cannot be required to pay more than 40% of your income in rent 

Section 8 obligations

If you accept Section 8 assistance, there are certain obligations that you will be required to abide by. Participating landlords and housing authorities will also have certain obligations of their own. 
Glance over the table below to familiarize yourself with the various Section 8 obligations for tenants, landlords, and housing authorities.
TenantLandlordHousing authority
Provide accurate and complete documentationScreen tenantsDetermine applicants’ eligibility and issue vouchers
Find suitable housing and complete all required paperwork before the voucher expiresComply with fair housing lawsApprove units, rental amounts, and leases
Pay rent promptly and attend all required appointmentsComplete all necessary repairs and maintenanceInspect subsidized units annually
Notify the housing authority of any changes in income or family compositionProvide housing authority with documentation of any notices to the tenant, such as eviction noticesEnsure that both tenants and landlords comply with program rules
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Key Takeaway Securing Section 8 assistance is tedious and time-consuming. It will require a lot of patience and paperwork, but once approved it can be a huge financial relief. 

What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in Pittsburg?

As mentioned above, Section 8 housing in Pittsburgh is managed by the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP). However, before the HACP can consider offering you Section 8 assistance, you need to meet the program requirements as described by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These requirements are as follows:
  • At least 18 years old
  • A documented immigrant or a citizen of the United States
  • Not be a convicted sex offender
  • Have a clean renting record with no previous evictions. Previous evictions will not necessarily get an application rejected, but it will make approval far less likely, especially if the evictions are related to drug use/sales or the manufacturing of methamphetamines
  • Income cannot exceed 50% of the median household income in Pittsburgh 
Keep in mind that these requirements are the minimum qualifying factors; meeting them does not guarantee approval.
The following sources will be included in your calculated income: 
  • Wages
  • Business holdings/other investments
  • Earned interest
  • Welfare assistance
  • Social security benefits
  • Alimony and child support
Most other types of income can also be considered if they apply to you. 
According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income in Pittsburgh as of 2020 was $50,536 per year, though this has likely gone up recently due to inflation.  
If your income is below 80% of the median income but above 50%, you will not be able to receive Section 8, but you might qualify for another program called Low-Income Public Housing
Furthermore, HUD will adjust the maximum income requirements for Section 8 based on the number of people in your household:
Family size1234
Low income (<80%) (not eligible for Section 8)$47,500$54,300$61,100$67,850
Very low income (<50%)$29,700$33,950$38,200$42,400
Extremely low income (<30%)$17,850$18,900$21,960$26,500
Even if you meet all the HUD requirements, remember that the HACP still has the final say as to whether you’ll be approved. 
Priority consideration will be given to those with extremely low income as well as those with children, disabled family members, or elderly family members. Applicants who are currently homeless will also be given higher priority. 

How to apply for Section 8 housing in Pittsburg

To apply for Section 8 housing in Pittsburgh, you’ll need to fill out a pre-application form using the online portal. Alternatively, you can download the LIPH Pre-Application Form, fill it out, and then submit it either by email (occupancy@hacp.org) or mail it in to:
HACP
100 Ross Street, 4th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219   
Before you begin the application process, you’ll need to have the following items/information handy:
  • Names and dates of birth for all family members who will be living with you
  • Social security cards for all family members
  • Income of all family members
  • Paper and pen to write down your confirmation number
When you complete the application, you’ll be given a confirmation number. This number does not mean you’ve been approved—only that your application has successfully been submitted. 
The HACP will contact you by mail to inform you that you’ve been approved for the waitlist, declined assistance, or that you’ve been invited to an eligibility interview to explore your case further. 
Even if you get approved for the waitlist, it will probably still be quite a while before you hear back from the HACP. Most applicants stay on the waitlist for 12-18 months
Being approved for the waitlist also does not necessarily mean you’ll be granted Section 8. You’ll need to maintain your place on the waiting list or you might lose it. 
Here’s what you’re responsible for doing to keep your place on the list:
  • Respond to any correspondence from the HACP in a timely manner
  • Notify the HACP of any changes in address, phone number, income, or family size within 10 business days
  • Submit all changes to your information in writing online, through the mail, or in person 
  • Include your social security number in any correspondence with the HACP 
Failure to follow any of these practices will result in you being removed from the waitlist
Once your spot is next in line, you can be certified as eligible to receive a voucher. They’ll also walk you through the final steps of finding a Section 8 qualified apartment and making the necessary arrangements. 

How to find Section 8 housing in Pittsburgh

If you’ve been invited to participate in the Section 8 program, you’ll be issued your housing voucher. The voucher will specify the size of the unit that your household qualifies for and the maximum price you can be charged for rent each month. 
Next, you’ll need to find an affordable rental unit that matches the criteria listed on the voucher. Before you start your housing search, familiarize yourself with The Housing Choice Voucher Online Briefing—it will fill you in on everything you need to know about using your voucher. 
Starting when you receive your voucher, you’ll have 90 days to find housing.  Elderly and disabled applicants will have 120 days. The easiest way to find a rental unit is by going to AffordableHousing.com
When you find a place you like, it will still need to be approved by the HACP. Send them a copy of the request for tenancy approval form which was given to you along with your voucher. Also, send them the lease agreement for the unit you want to rent. 
A program representative will be sent to inspect the housing unit and ensure that it meets the HUD standards of “decent housing.” If the property passes inspection, you can proceed with the rental process. 
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How to save money on car and renters insurance in Pittsburgh

Rising housing prices are no joke—every year it gets harder to find an affordable place to live. 
In metropolitan areas like Pittsburg, it’s even more difficult. Fortunately, there are other areas of your budget where you can easily save some money, like your insurance rates!
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FAQs

The rules of the Section 8 program specify that you cannot be required to pay more than 40% of your monthly income in rent. Section 8 will pay whatever the difference is after that point. 
Generally speaking, the program won’t usually pay for rent that exceeds 30% of the adjusted income of a family whose annual income is equal to 65% of the median income for the area.
You can estimate approximately how much Section 8 will pay for your specific case using the rental limit guidelines listed here.
A 2-bedroom Section 8 voucher in Pittsburgh will typically pay a maximum amount between $646 and $979.
No. Unlike other states, Pennsylvania state law does not require landlords to accept housing vouchers and other public financial assistance as valid income. 
However, this is likely to change soon. There is a strong push to classify the refusal of Section 8 as illegal discrimination in Pennsylvania.

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