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

In New York, you are eligible for Section 8 housing vouchers if your income is less than 50% of the local median income.
Written by Annette Maxon
Section 8 housing vouchers in New York City will cover at least 60% of your monthly rent costs. However, participating in this federal affordable housing program requires enduring long waiting times and many restrictions on the type of unit you can rent.
  • Through New York’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, the federal government can cover more than half of rent costs for qualifying households
  • Wait periods can be extensive due to high demand, and those who qualify for housing assistance will need to satisfy certain requirements
  • Keep a close eye on your email while you’re waiting for updates on your application status
  • Once you receive a housing voucher, you’ll have a limited amount of time to find suitable housing

What is Section 8 housing?

The Section 8 housing program was established as part of the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act. With this program, federal funding is provided to help low-income, elderly, and disabled people cover the cost of their rent. 
The NYC Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is still active today and overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) but operated by local public housing authorities. In New York City, Section 8 is administered by
New York State Homes and Community Renewal
(NYSHCR), the
New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).
No matter where you are in the country, the nuts and bolts of the federal rental subsidies program remain the same. Here’s a look at what to expect with New York’s HCV program:
  • Gives eligible tenants the option to apply for housing choice vouchers or project-based vouchers
  • Through the Section 8 housing choice voucher program, tenants can live in an apartment of their choosing, so long as the residence fits the voucher’s specified qualifications
  • Project-based vouchers are more limited—this type can only be used for specific properties and permits landlords to set certain units aside as low-income dwellings
  • Your voucher will be assigned a certain number of bedrooms based on family size and composition
  • If you are using a housing choice voucher, you can’t be required to pay more than 40% of your income in rent—the government pays the difference 

Section 8 obligations

When it comes to Section 8, three parties are involved in the process:
  • The tenant
  • The landlord
  • The local housing authority
Here’s a look at what each party is responsible for:
Housing agency
Provide accurate and complete documentation
Screen tenants
Determine applicants’ eligibility and issue vouchers
Find suitable housing opportunities 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
Key Takeaway For families that qualify for the Section 8 program, the government will cover more than 50% of your monthly rent—but be prepared for long wait times and numerous eligibility requirements

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

Since the Section 8 program is funded by the federal government, you will need to meet HUD’s basic eligibility requirements:
  • You and your household must be a family
  • Your household’s combined total income must be within the income limits (50% or less than your area’s median income)
  • You must present Social Security Numbers for you and your family members
  • You must hold U.S. citizenship or be an eligible immigrant
HUD takes the following factors into consideration when calculating your income: 
  • Wages
  • Business income
  • Interest
  • Welfare assistance
  • Social security benefits
  • Alimony and child support
Keep in mind: You may have other types of income that aren’t listed above as well—if so, head to HUD’s website for a
closer look at other factors
that can impact your total income amount. 
The median household income in New York was $67,046
between 2016 and 2020
. The exact income limits you and your family must meet in order to qualify for Section 8 varies depending on the number of people in your home. 
The table below provides a look at the qualifying income based on family size in NYC:
Family size
Income limits
Additionally, you must meet the eligibility requirements provided by the NYSHCR’s Administrative Plan. Some of the requirements for rental assistance include:
  • You must be 18 years old or older or an emancipated minor under New York state law
  • If you currently live outside of New York City, you must live in the city limits for the first 12 months after receiving a housing voucher
  • Your maximum income does not exceed the state’s income eligibility requirements

Citizenship requirements for Section 8 housing in New York

In order to receive Section 8 rental help, you must be a U.S. citizen that was born in the country or naturalized. Noncitizens are also able to apply if they meet certain criteria (e.g., you are a green card holder or a parolee). 
As long as one member of your household is a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant, you can apply even if some of your household members are not. If your family includes individuals with eligible and ineligible immigration statuses, you can still apply for Section 8 but will be classified as a mixed household. 
Mixed households can receive Section 8 vouchers, but the vouchers will be prorated based on the number of people in your household who are citizens or legal immigrants.
Not sure of your immigration status or eligibility? Reach out to an immigration expert or seek out legal services by calling the Office for New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

How to apply for Section 8 housing in New York

When it comes to applying for Section 8, be prepared for long wait times. You’ll need to start by applying for the program waitlist. 
Because of the massive demand, applications for this list are currently closed. Keep an eye out for announcements on the NYSHCR’s website.
Be ready to apply for your waiting list spot by going to the
application on NYSHCR’s website
. If you need to request reasonable accommodation or language assistance to submit an application, call 833-990-4001, TTY # 833-990-4002.
This initial application will require some basic information. Be prepared to provide the following information of all members of your household:
  • Name
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number or Residency Registration Number
  • Current household income—this number should combine the individual incomes for each member of your household
  • Number of household members
The NYSHCR relies heavily on email to communicate your application status and spot on the waiting list. It is essential to have an active email address to list on your application—make sure to check this email regularly after applying, including its spam and junk folders.
What happens next: Your application will go through an initial screening to determine your eligibility for the program. If you meet the requirements, you’ll receive an email confirming your spot on the waiting list. In the case where your application is not accepted for the waiting list, you will receive an email notifying you of the decision. 
NYSHCR will prioritize your place on the waiting list if you and your family are:
  • Homeless
  • Elderly and/or disabled
  • Have dependent children
Once you make your way to the top of the list, you will receive an email inviting you to an eligibility screening appointment. On the date and time of the meeting, bring with you any required documentation listed in the email. If your household still meets the eligibility requirements at this screening, you will be issued a housing voucher.

How to find Section 8 housing in New York

Once you receive a voucher, it’s best to start looking for a place to live immediately since HUD’s regulations only allow the voucher to be valid for 60 days after being issued. 
However, NYSHCR will grant your family up to two extensions (up to 180 days after receiving your voucher) if you have actively been seeking out a unit but have not been able to sign a lease. 
When it comes to starting your search,
has a wide selection of available rental units in your area. Expand your search even more by taking a look at HUD’s
interactive map
available online.
Once you submit the unit and its lease to NYSHCR, they will schedule an inspection to view the property. At this time, if the unit does not meet their requirements, the landlord will be asked to make repairs or you will need to seek out another apartment. 
Once you find a place that is approved, you, the NYSHCR, and the landlord will sign the rental agreement. 
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Section 8 will pay 60% or more of your monthly rent. The exact number paid by Section 8 will be determined by your household’s income and composition.
Though it will vary on the size of your income, family size, and city zone, a 2-bedroom Section 8 voucher in New York City will cover $2,217 in the New York Metro area. 
However, there are exceptions to this based on your zip code. If you have a zip code in
, or
Staten Island
, your voucher may range from $2,238 to $3,326.
Yes, New York State law requires all landlords to accept Section 8 tenants. The law prohibits denying an applicant based on their source of payment, whether it is a Section 8 housing voucher, veteran benefits, or another lawful source of income.
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