Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing in Santa Monica

To qualify for Section 8 housing in Santa Monica, you need to be considered very low income. The government will cover a portion of your rent.
Written by Megan Lebron
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Apr 11, 2022
Families in Santa Monica,
, that are considered “very low income” are given first priority for Section 8 vouchers. The Section 8 federal program helps vulnerable individuals ensure access to safe, decent, and affordable housing in US cities. 
Since the 1970s, low- or fixed-income individuals and families have been able to receive financial assistance with housing costs thanks to the Section 8 program.
Unfortunately, the process of obtaining a Section 8 voucher can be filled with one obstacle after another. Between the mountain of paperwork, long waiting lists, and plenty of red tape, getting your voucher may feel like an uphill battle.
That’s why renters and
car insurance
comparison app
put together this guide on the Section 8 program. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the Section 8 program in Santa Monica, including how to navigate the application process, find a rental, and maintain your Section 8 eligibility. 
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What is Section 8 housing?

The 1974 Housing and Community Development Act established the Section 8 program in an effort to help low-income, elderly, and disabled people afford safe housing. 
The housing voucher program makes it possible for the federal government to pay a portion of rent for qualifying individuals.
Here are the basics of how Section 8 works: 
  • Tenants contact their local housing authority to apply for housing choice vouchers or project-based vouchers.
  • Housing choice vouchers allow tenants to choose their own apartment, as long as it meets the qualifications listed on the voucher.
  • Project-based vouchers are for specific properties that landlords have selected as low-income or fixed-rent units.
  • Depending on your family size, the housing authority will specify how many bedrooms you need in your rental.
  • If you qualify for a voucher, you aren’t obligated to pay any more than 40% of your income in rent. The government will cover the rest of your housing costs.

Section 8 obligations

There are several obligations listed under the Section 8 program that apply to tenants as well as landlords and even the housing authority. Here’s a breakdown of everyone’s responsibilities:
Housing authority
Provide accurate and complete information on application
Screen tenants
Issue vouchers to eligible applicants
Find housing that complies with voucher and submit all paperwork before due date
Abide by housing laws
Approve rentals, rent rates, and lease agreements
Pay rent on time and attend all appointments
Maintain the rental and make repairs
Inspect Section 8 housing each year
Notify the housing authority if income or family changes
Provide documentation of all tenant notices to housing authority
Ensure tenants and landlords comply with Section 8 rules
Key Takeaway If you’re eligible for a Section 8 voucher, the government will pay for a portion of your rent. However, the process of getting a voucher involves long wait times. 

What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in Santa Monica?

Section 8 housing in Santa Monica is run by the Santa Monica Housing Authority (
). To qualify for a housing voucher in Santa Monica, you’ll have to meet federal Section 8 requirements along with some income requirements specific to the Santa Monica area.
Here are the federal Section 8 requirements:
  • 18 years of age or older
  • US citizen or a documented immigrant
  • No prior evictions for a lease violation
  • Evictions for drug use or manufacture
  • Not a convicted sex offender
In addition to these qualifications, your income must be below 50% of the median income in your area. The following items are considered income under Section 8:
  • Wages
  • Business income
  • Interest
  • Welfare assistance
  • Social security benefits
  • Alimony and child support
Other sources of income may be considered as well.
Check out this list
to make sure you calculate your total income correctly. 
In 2020, the median household income in Santa Monica was $98,300. You’ll need to make no more than 50% of this income to qualify.  
However, the income qualifications to be eligible for Section 8 vouchers depend on your family size. Here’s a table that breaks down what income and family size qualifies you as “very low income” in Santa Monica:
Family size
Very low income (50%)
Several factors might affect your place on the waiting list for a voucher in Santa Monica. The SMHA’s first priority is anyone that is currently unhoused for various reasons. Second priority is given to very low income families with a head of household currently working 25 or more hours a week
Those who don’t meet those requirements are (unfortunately) pushed further down on the waiting list. 

How to apply for Section 8 housing in Santa Monica

To apply for Section 8 housing in Santa Monica, start on the Santa Monica Housing Authority
. You’ll need to provide substantial documentation of your income, so make sure you have those documents handy when you fill out your application.
Currently, the Santa Monica Housing Authority is taking applications, but almost all of them are being waitlisted at this time. The SMHA only has a few hundred vouchers they are allowed to give out per year, but they’ve seen record numbers of applicants in recent years. In 2017, they had 19,000 applicants in one day.
You should receive a confirmation letter letting you know you’ve been placed on the waiting list. It may take several months (or years) before you’re certified as eligible for a voucher. During the wait, notify the Santa Monica Housing Authority immediately if your income, family composition, or housing situation changes.
Once you become eligible for a voucher, you’ll receive paperwork and will need to schedule a meeting with the housing authority for a briefing.

How to find Section 8 housing in Santa Monica

Once you receive your voucher from the SMHA, the deadline to find housing is 90 days, or 120 days for elderly or disabled individuals. If you need a place to start your search, try
this map
created by HUD.
When you start viewing properties and meeting with landlords, document everything. Keep records of applications submitted as well. 
If you reach the housing deadline and haven’t found a rental yet, you can take all of your documentation to the SMHA and apply for a 30-day extension. In California, it is illegal for a landlord to refuse a housing voucher and you can report them to the housing authority.
When you find a rental, submit all your “request for tenancy approval” paperwork and your lease agreement to the SMHA. 
The SMHA will inspect your rental every year to make sure that it meets the requirements of “decent housing.” They’ll also make sure that you are following all the tenant requirements listed in Section 8.

How to save money on car and renters insurance in Santa Monica

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