Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing in Virginia Beach

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To be eligible for Section 8 housing in Virginia Beach, Virginia, individuals and families must make less than 50% of Virginia Beach’s median income. With Section 8, the federal government will pay part of your rent.
Section 8 is designed to support very low-income families, elderly people, and those with disabilities to find safe, decent, and affordable housing. With a Section 8 voucher, you’ll typically pay at least 30% of your income in rent, while your local housing authority covers the remainder. 
While Section 8 is an essential program, it’s extremely difficult to navigate. Most cities have housing shortages, excessive wait times, and an incredibly detailed acceptance process, leaving many confused. 
To help clarify Section 8, Jerry, the super app which helps you save time and money on your car and renters insurance, has created this guide for Virginia Beach. In it, we’ll detail the Section 8 program, Virginia Beach’s specific requirements, and what steps come after applying. 
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What is Section 8 housing? 

The federal government created Section 8 in 1974 through the Housing and Community Development Act. While Section 8 is well-known, it’s a somewhat outdated term. Most communities call it the Housing Choice Voucher program officially, which helps avoid the stigma attached to the program. 
Here’s how Section 8 works:
  • Eligible families or individuals can apply with their local housing authority for either the housing choice voucher or project-based voucher
  • Housing choice vouchers allow recipients to choose where they’d like to live as long as it meets the voucher’s criteria.
  • Project-based vouchers are for set locations and properties. These vouchers allow landlords to maintain certain units as low-income housing, and the voucher stays with the unit, meaning you must live in that location to receive assistance. 
  • Voucher assignment is based on family size and composition. A voucher will detail the number of bedrooms it’s eligible for. 
  • With a voucher, participants normally pay at least 30% of their income. The local housing authority pays the remainder directly to the landlord. 

Section 8 obligations

When reviewing the Section 8 program, tenants, landlords, and housing authorities all have specific duties and responsibilities. Here are what each party’s obligations are:
TenantLandlordHousing authority
Provide accurate and complete documentationScreen tenants as they normally wouldDetermine applicants’ eligibility and issue vouchers
Find suitable housing and complete all required paperwork before the 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 tenants, including eviction noticesEnsure that both tenants and landlords comply with program rules
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Key Takeaway Section 8 is an essential social assistance program allowing the government to pay a large portion of your rent, but you’ll face long wait times and processes. 

What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in Virginia Beach?

The Housing and Neighborhood Preservation (DHNP) Rental Housing division manages the Section 8 program in Virginia Beach. As Section 8 is a federally funded program, applicants must meet eligibility requirements set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 
Eligibility requirements are:
  • Be at least 18 years of age or older
  • A U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or a documented immigrant 
  • Never been evicted for a lease violation, including drug use or manufacturing
  • Not a convicted sex offender 
You’ll also need to meet income requirements, meaning your income cannot exceed 50% of the median income in Virginia Beach. When determining income, HUD looks at the following:
  • Employment wages
  • Income from businesses 
  • Interest from bank accounts and investments
  • Social assistance, including welfare or Social Security benefits
  • Alimony and child support payments
Beyond this list, HUD also includes several other income types. Review this list to determine your income.  As of 2021, Virginia Beach’s median household income is $84,500. Even so, income limits vary depending on the size of your household, and most vouchers go to those whose income is 30% or less than the median income. The table below shows qualifying income for Section 8 in Virginia Beach:
Family size12345678
Very low income (50%)$29,600$33,800$38,050$42,250$45,650$49,050$52,400$55,800
Extremely low income (30%)$17,750$20,300$22,850$26,500$31,040$35,580$40,120$44,660
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Additionally, DHNP looks at several other factors to determine priority on the waitlist, including:
  • Displacement or homelessness
  • Victims of domestic violence
  • Already living in Virginia Beach
  • Elderly applicants
  • Disabled applicants
  • Veterans
  • Those employed 
  • Families with children

How to apply for Section 8 housing in Virginia Beach

Currently, the Virginia Beach Housing Choice Voucher waitlist is closed, meaning DHNP is not accepting any new applications. The last time the waitlist opened was November 2021, and before that, it had been closed for almost 10 years. When the waitlist does reopen, you can apply online through DNHP’s website
As there is a limited number of vouchers available and spaces only open when a current participant leaves the program, it could take several months to years to be selected. During this time, it’s important to notify DNHP of any changes to your address, income, or family. Updates can be processed through the mail or online.
To view the status of your application and update information, you can visit this site
DNHP will contact you when your application is selected, and you’ll have to verify your eligibility for the program, including income and your family composition and size
After confirming your eligibility, you’ll receive a voucher and any additional paperwork you’ll need. 

How to find Section 8 housing in Virginia Beach

After you’ve received your voucher, you’ll have a set amount of time. In most cases, vouchers are eligible for 30 to 90 days. To find housing, you can use AffordableHousing.com, resources on the City of Virginia Beach website, or this map by HUD. 
Throughout your housing search, document everything. If you can’t find suitable housing before your voucher expires, you’ll need to show proof of your search to apply for an extension. You’ll want to show that you’ve submitted applications, met with landlords, and have been conscientiously searching for a home. 
Once you’ve found a suitable apartment, you’ll need to give your new landlord a Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA)form. DHNP will process the form and a housing specialist will set up an inspection time. 
Should the unit pass inspection, you can sign a year-long lease. If you opt to stay in the apartment for longer than a year, DNHP will schedule yearly inspections and confirm your eligibility to ensure you still meet the program’s requirements.
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How to save money on car and renters insurance in Virginia Beach

As a renter, you could face water, smoke, fire damage, and more. While you won’t have to repair any building destruction, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars if your personal property is destroyed. That’s why it’s so important to buy a renters insurance policy. 
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In Virginia Beach, most Section 8 tenants are required to pay at least 30% of their income in rent. Based on federal requirements, a Section 8 recipient can’t pay more than 40% of their income in rent.
Unfortunately, due to the limited number of vouchers and housing options available, it’s unknown when the waitlist will reopen. The last time you could apply was in November 2021. Before that, the waitlist had been closed for nearly a decade, reopening previously in 2012.
The Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation encourages landlords to screen tenants carefully and recommends using credit checks, criminal checks, landlord references, and home visits to screen applicants. As long as you don’t discriminate against applicants based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status, you have the right to deny any tenant.

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