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

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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.
The federal government established the affordable housing program in the mid-70s to make sure everyone has access to clean and safe housing. 
Over the years, the demand for federal rent subsidies has increased dramatically. With this in mind, the Section 8 program has become known for its extremely long wait times, not to mention the endless paperwork and requirements.
That’s why Jerry, your trusted source for car and renters insurance quotes, created this simple guide to walk through everything you need to know about Section 8 housing in New York

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 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 run by New York State Homes and Community Renewal (NYSHCR).
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 Section 8:
  • Gives eligible tenants the option to apply for housing choice vouchers or project-based vouchers
  • With housing choice vouchers, 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, tenants can’t be required to pay more than 40% of their 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, landlord, and local housing authority.
Here’s a look at what each party is responsible for:
TenantLandlordHousing authority
Provide accurate and complete documentationScreen tenantsDetermine applicants’ eligibility and issue vouchers
Find suitable housing and complete all required paperwork before voucher expiresComply with fair housing lawsApprove units, rental amounts, and leases
Pay rent promptly and attend all required appointmentsComplete all necessary repairs and maintenanceInspect subsidized units annually
Notify the housing authority of any changes in income or family compositionProvide housing authority with documentation of any notices to tenant, including eviction noticesEnsure that both tenants and landlords comply with program rules
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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
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 $67,046between 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 New York City:
Family size12345678910
Income limits$41,800$47,750$53,700$59,650$64,450$69,200$74,000$78,750$83,510$84,286
Additionally, you must meet the eligibility requirements provided by the NYSHCR’s Administrative Plan. Some of these requirements 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 housing, 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 what your immigration status or eligibility is? 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.
So, you’ve submitted your application; 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
Eventually, you’ll make your way to the top of the list. When this happens, 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

You’ve received your voucher, so now it is time to find a place to live! It’s best to start looking 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, AffordableHousing.com 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

How to save money on car and renters insurance in New York

Even though the cost of housing has continued to skyrocket, having renters insurance can help protect your wallet in the case of unexpected peril. In New York City, renters pay an average of $174 per year in renters insurance, making it slightly more expensive than the national average.
But why should this important piece of renting a property be so expensive? That’s where Jerry comes in. A licensed broker, Jerry does all the hard work of finding cheap quotes from the top name-brand insurance companies. Jerry will even help you cancel your old policy.
And to ensure you always have the lowest rate, Jerry will send you new quotes every time your policy comes up for renewal, so you’re always getting the coverage you want at the best price. 
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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 Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, or Staten Island, your voucher may range from $2,238 to $3,326
Look up your zip code on this chart from the NYSHCR to find out how much a voucher may cover in your area.
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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