Obtaining a Section 8 voucher in Washington state requires waiting your turn, navigating the application process, and providing documentation. Section 8, or the Housing Choice Voucher Program, lets you use vouchers to help pay for privately-owned or government-owned rental housing. The Department of Housing and Urban Development funds Section 8, while housing authorities throughout the state administer it locally. Each public housing authority has its own application protocol and you can apply with more than one PHA to improve your chances of acceptance.
Apply With A Public Housing Authority
Check the HUD website for a list of PHAs that offer Section 8. Once you identify the city and its corresponding PHA, visit the housing authority's official website, find the nearest office or call to obtain an application. Most PHAs have a waiting list even to get on the waiting list for new Section 8 applicants, due to the high demand for the voucher program. The PHA's website or a representative can give you information on upcoming wait-list openings and wait-list instructions. PHAs also announce waitlist openings via local publications.
What to Do While Waitlisted
Update the PHA if your address or phone number changes. The housing authority must be able to contact you at any given time. Outdated contact information may cause the PHA to downgrade your position on a waitlist or remove you altogether, which would require you to apply again when a waiting list re-opens. Some PHAs allow you to check your waiting list status, view and update your personal information via an online portal. For example, the Vancouver Housing Authority offers an applicant portal for which you can register.
Most waiting lists open every two or three years and candidates are selected through a lottery system. However, each PHA has a different method for scheduling and managing waiting lists.
Fill Out the Application
Provide personal information for each household member. This includes the primary applicant, any spouse or partner that will occupy the Section 8 rental, and all dependents. You must specify ages, familial relationship and whether anyone in the household is disabled. Families with children, elderly or disabled household members may receive priority placement into the program.
Provide everyone's Social Security numbers and immigration or legal residency status. You must include income, employment, benefits and asset information for all household earners. This allows the PHA to establish eligibility, which is largely based on income and household size. Check HUD's website for current Washington state income limits.
Delivering the Documentation
The PHA runs your credit and a criminal background check. Certain sex offenders and applicants convicted of violent and drug-related crimes cannot participate in Section 8. Upon passing a preliminary application review, you must attend an interview at the PHA and bring the required documentation, such as:
- Proof of income via pay stubs, tax returns, government benefits award letters, and court-ordered child or family support paperwork
- Bank statements
- Proof of legal residency for non-U.S. citizens
- Birth certificates
The PHA verifies application information, finalizes your acceptance and schedules a Section 8 briefing appointment to give you your voucher.
Karina C. Hernandez is a real estate agent in San Diego. She has covered housing and personal finance topics for multiple internet channels over the past 10 years. Karina has a B.A. in English from UCLA and has written for eHow, sfGate, the nest, Quicken, TurboTax, RE/Max, Zacks and Opposing Views.