Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing in New Orleans

In New Orleans, you can receive Section 8 housing vouchers if you make less than 50% of the municipality’s median income.
Written by Annette Maxon
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
background
A Section 8 housing voucher in
New Orleans
will cover 60% or more of your monthly rent costs. However, be prepared for long wait times and lots of paperwork to start receiving program benefits.
Since the mid-70s, the Section 8 program has provided vulnerable families with clean and affordable housing. The program was established for low-income, disabled, and elderly people. 
Today, the number of people seeking entry into the Section 8 program has grown exponentially, resulting in an overburdened system. With a laundry list of requirements and paperwork, navigating the federally-funded Section 8 program may feel like an uphill battle.
That’s why
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, created this simple guide to walk you through everything you need to know about Section 8 in New Orleans,
Louisiana
. This guide will cover the basics of Section 8, eligibility requirements, the application process, and finding a Section 8 apartment in your area.

What is Section 8 housing?

The Section 8 housing program was established in 1974 to help low-income, elderly, and disabled tenants pay their rent. 
Part of the Housing and Community Development Act, this program distributes federal funds depending on tenants' income and family composition. Here’s a glance at how Section 8 housing works:
  • Section 8 tenants will receive a housing voucher that gives them access to federal rent subsidies—these will be a housing choice voucher or a project based voucher
  • Housing choice vouchers can be redeemed for any unit that meets the requirements stated on the voucher
  • Project based vouchers can only be used at specific properties and give landlords the option to set aside certain building units as low-income housing
  • Vouchers are distributed by the local housing authority, which may have its own set of eligibility requirements in addition to the federal requirements
  • Based on the family’s size and composition, a voucher is assigned for a specific number of bedrooms
  • Federal law prohibits Section 8 participants from spending more than 40% of their income on rent—the remaining 60% or more will be paid for by the government.
In addition to these requirements, your city’s public housing authority may have its own restrictions and rules that need to be followed as well. These rules will differ from city to city.

Section 8 obligations

Depending on whether you’re a Section 8 program tenant, landlord, or housing authority, your responsibilities will vary. Here’s a look at each party’s responsibilities:
Tenant
Landlord
Housing authority
Provide accurate and complete documentation
Screen tenants
Determine applicants’ eligibility and issue vouchers
Find suitable housing and complete all required paperwork before voucher expires
Comply with fair housing laws
Approve units, rental amounts, and leases
Pay rent promptly and attend all required 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 tenant, including eviction notices
Ensure that both tenants and landlords comply with program rules
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Key Takeaway Section 8 participants can expect the government to cover a significant portion of their monthly rent payments. However, this benefit also comes with strict eligibility requirements and rules. 

What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in New Orleans?

The
Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO)
runs the Section 8 program in the city. Before going through the application process, make sure that you meet the requirements set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in addition to any HANO requirements.
To qualify for Section 8 housing in New Orleans, you must meet the following requirements:
  • 18 years old or older
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a documented immigrant
  • No prior record of being a convicted sex offender
  • Must make 50% or less of your area’s median income
Not sure if your income qualifies? HUD considers the following when calculating your income:
  • Wages
  • Business income
  • Interest
  • Welfare assistance
  • Social security benefits
  • Alimony and child support
Of course, you may have income that is not listed above. If this is the case,
HUD provides a detailed list
of the types of income to include in your calculation.
The average annual income in New Orleans was $43,258 from 2016 to 2020. But your Section 8 eligibility will vary depending on the size and composition of your family. Look at the table below to see if you might qualify in New Orleans based on your family’s income and size:
Family size
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Very low income (50%)
$24,550
$28,050
$31,550
$35,050
$37,900
$40,700
$43,500
$46,300
Extremely low income (30%)
$14,750
$17,420
$21,960
$26,500
$31,040
$35,580
$40,120
$44,660
Don’t worry if you have other circumstances that impact your eligibility. The HANO takes children and disabled or elderly family members into consideration when assigning your housing voucher. If you are currently without housing, your application will likely be prioritized on the waiting list.

How to apply for Section 8 housing in New Orleans

When you’re ready to apply for Section 8, be prepared to wait—applications are only accepted when vouchers become available. Head to the HANO’s website and local housing services to find out whether applications are open.
When the HANO opens applications, you can submit your
application materials online
. If you meet the minimum eligibility requirements you’ll be placed on a waiting list
Once you’re on the waitlist, be prepared for another extensive wait time. Since the demand for federal housing subsidies is so high, the overstretched program is struggling to keep up with the demand. 
Oftentimes, it takes up to five years to make it off the waiting list.
Let’s say you or any of your family members move, get a new job, fall ill, or experience a change that impacts your Section 8 eligibility. In these cases, you must notify the HANO about the change in writing. This written notification must include your name, social security number, former address (if applicable), and current/new address. 
Mail your written update to: 
Housing Authority of New Orleans
Section 8 Waiting List
4100 Touro Street
New Orleans, LA 70122.
You can also email the HANO by sending your updates to: ​​
info@hano.org
As vouchers become available and once your name reaches the top of the waiting list, you will be called into HANO for an eligibility screening. Make sure to bring all of the documentation that the HANO requires to the meeting. 
During this eligibility screening process, you will also have to pass a criminal background check. This screening will also check to see whether you have been evicted or are in debt to other public housing authorities.
If your eligibility is approved and you pass the background check, you will be assigned a housing voucher. 

How to find Section 8 housing in New Orleans

When it comes to looking for housing, keep in mind that the unit must meet the HANO’s acceptable level of health and safety in order to apply your voucher towards rent. 
Once you’ve found a unit you like, you will need to submit your lease to HANO for approval before signing a lease.
The HANO will need to inspect the unit and review the lease. If the unit meets the health and safety requirements and the voucher’s specific restrictions, all parties can sign the lease and you can move in.
The
Housing Choice Connect database
allows tenants with a housing choice voucher to search available rental properties. 
If you want to expand your search,
AffordableHousing.com
regularly updates its large list of available units.
Key Takeaway When you make it off the waiting list, you will need to attend an eligibility screening appointment where you will receive your voucher. Once issued a voucher, you will need to find an apartment that meets the voucher’s requirements.
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FAQs

It depends. A general rule of thumb is to anticipate at least 60% of your rent being paid for by the government. Know that with Section 8, you are responsible for paying up to 40% of your monthly rent. 
The exact amount you are responsible for paying will be determined by your family’s income and composition.
In 2022, two-bedroom vouchers range from $1,197 to $1,738. The exact dollar amount depends on your
zip code
and family’s income.
There are currently no federal or state laws that require landlords to accept Section 8 in Louisiana
However, keep in mind that it is illegal to
deny housing based on
race, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, or religion under federal law. If any of these factors influence the decision to deny Section 8 applications, then you may run the risk of getting charged for discriminatory practices.
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