Section 8 Housing: Ways to Find the Home That’s Right For You

Section 8 Housing provides financial aid to qualified households and families throughout the country. However, once you’re off the Section 8 waiting list, you’ll need to find HUD approved housing that suits your needs. 

While similar to any apartment search, the property must meet regulations and guidelines set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to be eligible for using housing vouchers. As part of these guidelines, an inspection must be performed by your local public housing authority (PHA) before you’ll be able to move in. These inspections ensure that properties meet sanitation, safety, and pricing standards. 

Where to submit your Section 8 application for a rental property is an important decision, and you’ll want to find a rental property that best accommodates your family’s needs. Therefore, it’s beneficial to develop a list of your family’s priorities before you begin your search. 

It is often recommended to group your list into wants and needs, as you may need to make some compromises to secure comfortable, affordable HUD approved housing. Additionally, it’s important to know red flags you should be on the lookout for when comparing properties. 

How to Find the Right Section 8 Houses for Rent 

Section 8 Housing provides assistance to families in the form of many different types of properties, including apartments, townhomes, studios, and single family homes. As a voucher recipient, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from, but you will be limited to HUD approved housing and the landlord must agree to accept housing vouchers. 

When choosing the right home for your family, there are many factors to consider, and you’ll need to determine your housing priorities at the start of your search to compare your options more easily. 

Some examples you may want to consider in your search include: 

  • The number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need 
  • Yard and storage space 
  • The neighborhood 
  • Distance from work 
  • The local school district, if you have children 
  • Nearby public transportation options 
  • Local traffic
  • Nearby businesses, including stores and restaurants 
  • Amenities 
  • Rental costs 
  • The type of home (apartment, single family home, etc.)

The neighborhood you choose to live in can drastically impact your home life. For example, some residential neighborhoods are quieter and have less traffic. Or, if you prefer to live in a busy downtown area, you’ll likely have greater access to public transportation, but you may need to deal with more traffic or a busier, louder neighborhood. 

Where you choose to live can also impact your rental prices. Generally, living in a downtown area or more popular neighborhood means you’ll pay more for a quality rental unit. 

If you’re looking at single family homes, these properties may provide yard space, extra storage areas, or a larger living space. However, you may also need to commit to maintaining the property, including snow removal and mowing. 

Since there are so many options to choose from, it’s important to establish your housing priorities early on in your search for affordable Section 8 Housing. With that list in mind, it can help to weigh the pros and cons of each property you consider, and can ultimately help you find the right housing option for you and your family. 

Amenities and Red Flags to be on the Lookout For

Once you know the neighborhood and type of home you’d prefer to live in, you can start combing through the finer details of each rental property before submitting your Section 8 application. Each rental property will have additional features and amenities for you to consider before making a final decision. 

At the same time, it’s essential to be on the lookout for red flags that could lead to issues as a tenant. No one enjoys running into problems on moving day, so finding these red flags ahead of time could help save you the stress and hassle of another move down the road. 

Rental property amenities vary widely between properties and home types. For example, most apartment complexes include some sort of shared common areas, such as laundry facilities, gyms, pools, and rec centers. 

If these types of facilities are important to you, make sure you list it in the appropriate wants or needs category of your list. Other rental amenities and features you may want to consider include: 

  • Furnished units 
  • Pet-friendly properties 
  • Balconies and patios 
  • Central or unit air conditioning and heating 
  • Kitchen appliances 
  • Parking lots vs designated parking spaces 
  • Internet or cable access 
  • Security measures
  • In-unit washer and dryer 
  • Smart-home features 
  • Closet space 
  • Package lockers 
  • Community events 

While this is far from a complete list, the above items can give you a place to start. From there, you can come up with more amenities that are important to you and your family to assist you in your search. 

Similarly, be on the lookout for red flags as you search for affordable Section 8 houses for rent. Examples of common red flags include: 

  • Property managers are difficult to contact 
  • The grounds or property isn’t well maintained 
  • There is no screening, application process, or credit checks 
  • Rental amounts seem too good to be true 
  • Unclean properties 
  • Property tours are rushed 
  • There’s almost no parking when you arrive to look at the property 
  • The property is damaged 

Learn About Housing Counseling Services

Government initiatives like Section 8 housing are meant to help low-income families and households secure quality housing at an affordable price. In addition to rental properties, vouchers can commonly be put towards the purchase of a home. If you’re considering becoming a homeowner, try using HUD counseling services, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. 

The housing counseling service program is designed to provide educational services for homeownership. It’s a great resource for any homebuyer that can help you learn more about topics like: 

  • Renters and homeowners insurance
  • Housing and home buyer assistance programs
  • Insurance premiums and mortgage loans 

Participating in these HUD services can get you well on your way toward finding the right home for you and your family and may even help you avoid evictions or foreclosures down the road. Additionally, HUD counseling helps renters find low-income housing options in the area, too.