Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing in Seattle

To qualify for Section 8 housing vouchers in Seattle, you’ll need to make less than 50% of the median income.
Written by Patrick Price
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
, residents whose income is less than 50% of the city’s median income may be eligible for financial housing assistance through Section 8 housing vouchers. If you are approved for a voucher, the government will pay a portion of your monthly rent. 
The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, also called “Section 8,” is a nationwide program that helps individuals or families that are low-income, disabled, or elderly find safe, clean, and affordable housing
Before they can get these benefits, potential Section 8 recipients have to navigate bureaucratic inefficiency, extensive paperwork, and an ever-growing waitlist. 
To make matters worse, information on Section 8 is notoriously scarce and hard to understand. But don’t worry—
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What is Section 8 housing?

The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV) is a government program that helps provide decent and affordable housing to low-income, disabled, and elderly people. 
The program is sometimes called Section 8 because it was created by Section 8 of the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act. 
Here’s how Section 8 works: 
  • If someone believes that they may qualify for the Section 8 program, they can apply to their local housing authority for an HCV voucher 
  • If they are approved, the recipient can use their voucher to pay a portion of their rent in any apartment that meets the housing requirements listed on their particular voucher 
  • These requirements (apartment size, number of bedrooms, etc.) will be determined by the size of the recipient's family and a few other factors  
  • Section 8 recipients cannot be required to pay more than 40% of their monthly income in rent. The rest of the rent will be paid directly to the landlord by the government 

Section 8 obligations

Everyone involved in a Section 8 housing arrangement (tenants, landlords, and housing authorities) must abide by certain obligations associated with the program. Here’s what each of them will have to do:
Housing authority
Provide accurate and complete documentation
Screen tenants
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 on time and attend all program 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 Qualifying for Section 8 housing assistance can be a huge financial relief—just be prepared to deal with a lot of paperwork and sit on a long waitlist. 

What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in Seattle?

HCV housing assistance is a federal program managed at the local level. In Seattle, the program is run by the
Seattle Housing Authority (SHA)
The SHA is the organization that will ultimately approve or deny your Section 8 application. Before you can even be considered, though, you’ll have to meet the program’s basic requirements on the federal level. 
These requirements are set by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and they apply to Section 8 programs in every state. 
In order to qualify for HCV on the federal level, you must be at least 18 years old. You must also be either a US citizen or a documented immigrant.
The safety and peace of mind of the other tenants must also be respected. For this reason, convicted sex offenders are not eligible for Section 8.
Ideally, you should never have been evicted or had a serious lease violation—though this isn’t always guaranteed to get your application denied. If the eviction was due to drug use/sales or for manufacturing methamphetamine, you will be denied. 
Lastly, you’ll need to have a sufficiently low income to warrant financial assistance. Most types of money that you acquire will be counted toward your income. This includes things like: 
  • Wages from employment
  • Business and/or investment income
  • Earned interest
  • Welfare assistance
  • Social security benefits
  • Alimony and child support received
For a complete catalog of everything counted toward your income, use
this list
Once the HUD has calculated your total annual income, the sum must be below 50% of the median household income in your area. Higher priority will be given to applicants with an income below 30% of the median household income (“extremely low-income”). 
According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income in Seattle was $97,185 in 2020. Keep in mind that your exact income threshold will be adjusted based on the number of people in your household
Here are the income limits enforced for Section 8 based on your family size:
Family size
Very low income (50%)
Extremely low income (30%)
When determining your eligibility and place on the waitlist, the SHA will consider a number of factors beyond your income and family size. If you’re currently homeless, have children, or take care of a disabled or elderly person, you’ll be placed higher.

How to apply for Section 8 housing in Seattle

Unfortunately, as of Spring 2022, application for the Seattle Section 8 waitlist is closed
For the time being, no new applications are being accepted. The Seattle HCV program is heavily overburdened and unable to keep up with demand. 
As an alternative, you can try
applying to the SHA Housing
program—this is a separate housing assistance program that is also operated by the SHA. Applicants that are approved may receive housing accommodations in one of the buildings that the SHA owns. 
Unlike HCV, SHA Housing is not a federal program so it is not subject to the HUD requirements. The
eligibility requirements
for the SHA Housing program differ from those of the HCV program in a few ways.

How to find Section 8 housing in Seattle

Hopefully, when the HCV registration reopens, you’ll be able to get approved for and receive an HCV voucher. If you do, the first thing you’ll want to do is complete the Seattle HCV
online orientation
After that, you’ll be able to use your voucher to pay a portion of your rent—assuming that you’re living in a qualified unit that meets all HCV program housing requirements
If your current housing situation does not meet these requirements, you may need to move to one that does before you can use your voucher. 
If you do need to relocate, you’ll have up to 120 days to find housing. After that, your voucher will expire. Use
to find a housing unit that meets all the requirements.  
When you find a property, you’ll complete the landlord’s standard application procedure. Once your rental application has been approved, you’ll need to give your landlord the Leasing Kit that you will have received along with your voucher. 
The landlord will then have to follow the procedures specified in the kit. You and the landlord will fill out the paperwork included and send it to the SHA. 
You can mail completed Leasing Kit documents to this address:
Housing Choice Voucher Program
Attn: New Move-In Team
Seattle Housing Authority
190 Queen Anne Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109-1028
The SHA will review and (hopefully) approve the rental price. They will then send someone to do an inspection of the property. As long as the unit passes inspection, the SHA will mail the contract and Tenancy Addendum documents to the landlord. 
After that, you’ll be able to sign the lease and move in. 
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In general, Section 8 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.
A 2-bedroom Section 8 voucher in Seattle will typically pay for around $2,134 worth of rent per month.
Yes. According to the new
state law that went into effect in September 2018, it is illegal to discriminate against potential tenants based on their Section 8 status. Landlords are required to accept all valid forms of payment, including government subsidies.
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