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San Francisco Section 8 Housing Resources

November 4, 2020

Need help finding an affordable apartment in San Francisco? Section 8 housing could be an option, depending on your income threshold and other criteria.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and managed by the state-run Public Housing Authorities (PHA). Also called the housing choice voucher program, low-income renters apply to receive assistance to find an affordable, safe, and sanitary place to live.

If you're interested in applying for Section 8 in San Francisco, here's what to know and how to apply.

San Francisco Section 8 Housing Eligibility

To qualify for Section 8 housing in San Francisco, tenants must earn below 50% of the median income in the San Francisco metro area. How much you need to earn could change depending on where exactly you live. It's essential to contact your local PHA to understand the requirements.

The number of people in your household can also change the criteria, as can criminal history. In some cases, non-US citizens are also allowed to use Section 8 vouchers.

If you're moving to San Francisco and already know you'll fit the Section 8 criteria, you can also apply from your current city. Or, you can apply to multiple areas to try and find a subsidized apartment before you move.

How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in San Francisco

If you want help with your Section 8 application in San Francisco, you can ask your local PHA office for hands-on assistance. They’ll walk you through the process and ask for official documentation like your pay stubs and Social Security numbers.

They’ll also need documentation for family or household members that need assistance.

The fastest way to apply for Section 8 is to apply online. That could potentially speed up the processing time. It should take a few weeks to hear back about your application status. However, long wait times are also standard.

With that said, there’s a downside to applying online and without the assistance of a PHA representative. If you make a mistake and they deny your application, you may not be able to apply again for an entire year. Double check that all of your documentation is correct and uploaded into their system.

Housing Voucher Waitlists

Once you're approved for Section 8, it's common to be placed on a long waitlist to receive your housing vouchers. Unfortunately, it can take months or even years to finally secure your housing vouchers.

The demand is always high for Section 8 assistance. However, the housing inventory is limited around San Francisco.

In some cases, the local PHA waitlist may be closed altogether and not accepting applications. You can see if San Francisco is accepting housing vouchers at the San Francisco Housing Authority.

Preference for Section 8 housing is also given to vulnerable populations like the disabled, elderly, pregnant women, and those experiencing homelessness. If you fit into any of these criteria, your wait time may be less than other applicants. The PHA considers each situation individually to determine who receives Section 8 housing first.

The PHA periodically purges their waitlists, making it essential to stay on top of your application status. Keep your contact information updated with your local PHA. If the office tries to contact you and can't locate you, they could end up purging you from their waitlist.

The public housing office will also periodically ask if you want to remain on their waitlist. If they don't hear back, they might remove you from the list. They do that in an effort to reduce its volume and speed up the process.

Section 8 Housing Vouchers

Once you're approved for Section 8 and off the waitlist, you're ready to receive your Section 8 housing vouchers. However, not all apartments and complexes accept the vouchers.

Once you find a place to live, the participating landlord or property management will receive the government subsidy directly. The vouchers just subsidize your rent. The tenants are responsible for making up the remainder.

Your vouchers could also increase or decrease depending on if your situation changes. A job loss, new family member, or salary increases could all impact how much your housing vouchers are worth.

Keep your local PHA office updated with any changes. That way, you can avoid complications or losing your vouchers altogether.

Where to Find Section 8 Housing in San Francisco

Not all apartments, complexes, and townhouses will accept Section 8 vouchers around San Francisco. Housing is so competitive in the city that it can be challenging to find a property that participates in Section 8 housing.

If you're interested in finding a subsidized location, use HUD's Resource Locator to find affordable housing in the metro area. You'll also find more information for affordable housing for the elderly, special needs renters, and those experiencing homelessness.

Useful Resources

Are you interested in applying for Section 8 housing vouchers to subsidize your rent? Get more information by visiting the HUD Housing Website for California or the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development.

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Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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