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By Emily Maracle
Updated on Sep 27, 2022
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff, Staff Editor.
If you or your family’s income is less than 50% of the median income in West Palm Beach, Florida, you could qualify for Section 8 housing vouchers, and the federal government will cover a percentage of your rent.
The Section 8 program was created in 1974 to assist low-income families, the elderly, and those with disabilities find safe, affordable, and decent housing. With a Section 8 voucher, you can expect to pay 40% or less of your income in rent while the federal government pays the rest.
Although Section 8 helps millions across the country, it is a complicated program. Most wait times last years due to funding and housing shortages, and once you’re approved, there are mountains of paperwork to scale.
It seems impossible to find Section 8 housing, but Jerry, the super app designed to help you save on car and renters insurance, has created this handy guide to make it a bit easier. Here, we’ll detail what Section 8 is, what the requirements are in West Palm Beach, and what’s next after applying.
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What is Section 8 housing?
In 1974, Congress passed the 1974 Housing and Community Development act, establishing the Section 8 program. Section 8 is a federally funded program designed to help very low-income individuals and families, the elderly, or those with disabilities find affordable, safe, and decent housing.
Most programs have separated themselves from the Section 8 name, and you’ll typically find programs referred to as the Housing Choice Voucher program.
Here’s how it works:
- Any eligible individual or family can apply to their housing authority for housing choice vouchers or project-based vouchers.
- Housing choice vouchers give applicants more flexibility as they can be used in any apartment that fits the voucher’s qualifications.
- Project-based vouchers are less flexible and attached to a specific property or unit. You typically aren’t able to transfer project-based vouchers should you choose to move.
- Based on your family, your voucher will specify a set number of bedrooms.
- Tenants aren’t required to pay more than 40% of their income in rent, and the remaining is the government’s responsibility.
Section 8 obligations
Tenants, landlords, and housing authorities each have certain responsibilities and obligations within the Section 8 program. This table details what each is responsible for:
|Provide accurate and complete applications||Screen tenants fairly||Determine applicants’ eligibility and issue vouchers|
|Find suitable housing and complete all required paperwork before the 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, upkeep, and maintenance||Inspect and recertify subsidized units annually|
|Notify the housing authority of any changes in income or family composition||Provide housing authority with documentation of any notices to tenants, including eviction notices||Ensure that both tenants and landlords comply with program rules|
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Key Takeaway The assistance you can receive from Section 8 provides you access to affordable and safe housing, but it’s a multiple-step process that can take years.
What are the requirements for Section 8 housing in West Palm Beach
The West Palm Beach Housing Authority (WPBHA) manages the Housing Choice Voucher program or Section 8 in West Palm Beach. If you’re interested in applying for Section 8, you’ll need to meet the requirements set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
These requirements include that applicants are:
- At least 18 years of age or older
- A U.S. citizen or documented immigrant
- Not a convicted sex offender
- Free from serious lease violations, such as drug use or manufacturing
- The ability for all adult family members to pass a criminal background check
Your income also can’t exceed 50% of the median income in West Palm Beach. When determining your income, HUD will look at:
- Employment income
- Business income
- Interest from accounts or investments
- Welfare or other social assistance programs
- Alimony and child support
There are income types HUD includes, so take a look at this list to determine your income.
The median household income in West Palm Beach for 2021 is $80,200. Most housing vouchers go to those whose income is extremely low or 30% or less of the median income. Income limits vary depending on family size, but the table below details income limits in West Palm Beach:
|Very low income (50%)||$30,000||$34,250||$38,550||$42,800||$46,250||$49,650||$53,100||$56,500|
|Extremely low income (30%)||$18,000||$20,600||$23,150||$26,500||$31,040||$35,580||$40,120||$44,660|
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When determining priority, WPBHA also considers whether your family has children, disabled members, or elderly members. If you’re a domestic abuse victim or currently homeless, your application may also be prioritized.
How to apply for Section 8 housing in West Palm Beach
If you’d like to apply for Section 8 in West Palm Beach, you can apply online through their pre-application portal. If you can’t apply online, you’ll need to contact the WPBHA Office in writing for assistance.
Currently, the only waitlist open in West Palm Beach is for veterans that are 62 years or older. All other waiting lists are currently closed, meaning you can’t apply until they reopen.
Once you apply and reach the top of a waiting list, the Housing Authority of West Palm Beach will contact you by mail. Should you not respond or the letter is returned as undeliverable, your name will be removed from the list.
For this reason, you must notify WPBHA of any changes in writing within 10 business days. Changes include family size, income, phone number, or address.
That said, expect to be on the waiting list for several months to years.
After you are selected and deemed eligible, which includes a review of your income, you’ll receive the voucher and any necessary paperwork.
How to find Section 8 housing in West Palm Beach
For a housing choice voucher, you’ll need to start your search as soon as possible. Most vouchers have an expiration date of 30 to 90 days, meaning you’ll have to find a suitable apartment within that time frame. To find suitable housing, you can use AffordableHousing.com or use HUD’s map.
When you’re looking for an apartment, document the search. If you’re having difficulty finding suitable housing, you must have a record of your search, including appointments, paperwork, or any meetings with landlords.
After you find a residence, you’ll need to contact WBPHA so they can set you up with a housing coordinator. The coordinator will file your Request for Tenancy Approval and schedule an initial inspection of the unit with your landlord.
When the unit passes inspection, the housing authority will begin paying a portion of your rent.
If you intend to extend your lease after the initial one-year period, annual inspections and recertifications occur, and your lease becomes month-to-month.
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How to save money on car and renters insurance in West Palm Beach
While there’s a shortage of affordable housing in West Palm Beach, it doesn’t mean you can’t save elsewhere! On average, drivers in West Palm Beach pay $3,288 a year on their car insurance. By using the Jerry app to shop and compare insurance rates, drivers save an average of $800 a year!
The Section 8 waitlist might be closed in West Palm Beach, but with Jerry, you have 24/7 access to savings. Jerry is a personal insurance broker that lives in your pocket. Once you download Jerry, just answer a handful of questions that will take you roughly 45 seconds to complete, and you’ll immediately get car insurance quotes for coverage similar to your current plan.
Even better—you can bundle your car and renters insurance to ensure you and your belongings are protected, all while saving money.
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What is the most Section 8 will pay?
Most tenants pay 30% of their income in rent, but depending on your family size and composition, you could pay up to 40%. The most Section 8 will pay is between 60% to 70% of your rent.
How much is a 2-bedroom Section 8 voucher in West Palm Beach?
The West Palm Beach Housing Authority bases its vouchers on HUD’s fair market rent determined by zip code. Currently, the lowest cost for a 2-bedroom is $820, and the highest is $2,370. WPBHA updates its payment standards as waitlists open and will give you an exact amount when you receive your voucher.
Can a landlord reject Section 8 in Florida?
West Palm Beach Housing Authority encourages landlords to screen tenants using standard methods, including credit checks, background checks, home visits, landlord references, and employment verification. However, landlords cannot discriminate against applicants based on their age, race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disabilities in Florida.