Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing in Nashville

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Families with incomes of 40% or less of Nashville's median income can qualify for Section 8 housing vouchers, which allow the federal government to pay for a portion of their rent. 
The Section 8 program, established in the 1970s, provides affordable housing to low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled. With a Section 8 voucher, you can pay 40% or less of your monthly income in rent—the government covers the remainder.
Navigating the Section 8 program, though, is a tremendous pain. Finding Section 8 housing might feel like an insurmountable process due to excessive paperwork, long wait times, and overloaded systems.
To help you understand, car and renters insurance super app Jerry has put together a thorough guide to Section 8 housing in Nashville. We'll go over the fundamentals of the Section 8 program, the requirements in Nashville, and walk you through the voucher application process, finding apartments, and preserving your Section 8 tenancy.
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What is Section 8 housing?

Section 8 is a federal affordable housing program that permits very low-income families and the elderly or disabled to have the government pay a portion of their rent. Section 8 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, which created the housing voucher program, gave rise to the name.
Section 8 functions as follows:
  • To qualify for rental assistance, eligible tenants should apply to their local housing agency for housing choice vouchers or project-based vouchers.
  • Tenants who use housing choice vouchers can live in any unit that meets the conditions indicated on the voucher.
  • Project-based vouchers are tied to individual properties and enable landlords to classify specific units as low-income housing.
  • Depending on family size and composition, the housing authority provides vouchers for a specified number of bedrooms.
  • Tenants that apply for housing with a housing choice voucher cannot be made to pay more than 40% of their income in rent; the balance is paid directly to the government.

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 thorough and accurate documentation.Screen tenantsDetermine the eligibility of applicants and distribute vouchers
Locate a suitable home and submit all necessary documentation before the voucher expiresComply with fair housing regulationsUnits, rental rates, and leases must be approved.
Pay your rent on time and show up for all scheduled appointmentsComplete all required repairs and maintenanceInspect subsidized units on a yearly basis
Inform the housing authority if your income or family composition changesProvide documentation of all notices to tenants, including eviction notices, to the housing authorityAssure that both tenants and landlords follow program guidelines
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Key Takeaway If you qualify for Section 8 housing, the government will pay a big chunk of your rent—but be prepared for long waits and a lot of steps.

What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in Nashville?

The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) manages Section 8 housing in Nashville. In order to qualify for Section 8 vouchers, you’ll need to meet the federal requirements established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Every member of the family has to be a citizen, national or noncitizen with eligible immigration status. You may be denied assistance if family members have a history of drug-related or violent criminal activity.
In order to qualify, your income cannot exceed 40% of the area's median income. HUD takes the following into account when calculating income:
  • Wages
  • Business income
  • Interest
  • Welfare assistance
  • Benefits from social security
  • Child support and alimony
Other sources of income may be included in your overall income. Examine this list carefully to calculate your income.
As of 2020, the median household income in Nashville is $62,087. However, the actual income restrictions vary depending on your household size—and keep in mind that federal law mandates the MDHA to hand out 75% of its vouchers to candidates with incomes that are 30% or less of the median income. This table breaks down qualified income in Nashville according to family size:
Family size12345678
Extremely low income$17750$20250$22800$26500$31040$35580$40120$44660
Very low income$29550$33750$37950$42150$45550$48900$52300$55650
Low income$47250$54000$60750$67450$72850$78250$83650$89050
In addition to family size and income, the MDHA will consider other criteria. Your application might be prioritized if you have kids, disabled family members, or elderly family members. If you're currently unhoused you may be moved up the waitlist as well. 

How to apply for Section 8 housing in Nashville

To apply for Section 8 housing in Nashville, you’ll have to ensure the waitlist is open and accepting applicants—which you can check here.
Families interested in applying for the Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 Program must first fill out an online preliminary application for housing assistance. If you meet all the initial requirements, you’ll be notified and will have to fill out a formal application
The MDHA will provide the voucher once all family information has been validated, their eligibility determined, their subsidy estimated, and they have attended a family briefing to go over how the program works.

How to find Section 8 housing in Nashville

Once you've got your voucher, you'll have 60 days to find a home (or 120 days if the rental market is tight or there aren't enough available units). You can look for a place using AffordableHousing.com, this list of Nashville landlords who take Section 8 vouchers, or browse listings on the TN Housing Search website.
Everything you do in your housing hunt should be documented, including visits with landlords, applications filed, etc. If you can't locate accommodation in time and require an extension, having records of your search will help. If you can demonstrate to the MDHA that you've been looking for housing diligently, they're more likely to extend your search period. If you come across any apartment listings that state "no section 8," you can report them to your housing authority.
When you find an apartment, submit a copy of your lease agreement and the "request for tenancy permission" documentation that came with your voucher to the MDHA. 
After you move in, the housing authority will assign someone to inspect the unit to confirm that it fits the definition of "decent dwelling." MDHA will conduct annual inspections and recertifications to ensure that you and the unit continue to meet program standards.

How to save money on car and renters insurance in Nashville

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FAQs

Section 8 prohibits landlords from requiring you to pay more than 40% of your income in rent. That means Section 8 will cover the remainder, up to 60% of your monthly income! The exact amount will depend on your salary, household size, and fair market rent in your area.
In Nashville, a 2-bedroom Section 8 voucher will normally pay between $935 and $1,370.

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