Learn About Section 8 Requirements in California

The Section 8 requirements in California specify the family composition and maximum income you can earn. Furthermore, the Section 8 qualifications outline the residency and legal presence requirements you must meet.

The eligibility criteria for this program can be complex, but learning how the Section 8 program works will help you understand how to qualify. At the federal level, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) distributes funds to public housing agencies (PHAs).

Once funds reach the local level, PHAs determine who is eligible for help, and distributes assistance in the form of housing vouchers. These vouchers allow you to choose a single-family home, apartment or townhome in which to live, provided the unit is owned by a landlord or rental agency that works with the HUD.

When learning how to apply for housing benefits, keep in mind that your Section 8 eligibility is determined based on where you live in California. For that reason, the income limits and other criteria may differ from one community to the next.

Below, learn everything you need to know about Section 8 income limits in California, and discover how to meet the other eligibility criteria.

Learn About California Section 8 Requirements for Family Status

To qualify for Section 8 in California, you will need to make sure you meet HUD’s definition of a “family.” There is a variety of family compositions that may qualify you for the program. For example, a family can be a single person who is elderly, disabled or displaced by a natural disaster.

A family can also include two or more people who meet the income and residency requirements. Families composed of two or more people may or may not be elderly, disabled or displaced. At any rate, families do not need to have children to be eligible for Section 8, but they must be composed of individuals who are related by blood, marriage or adoption.

When determining if you meet the Section 8 housing eligibility criteria, it is important to understand who counts as a family member, and who does not. In general, keep in mind that the people in your household do not necessarily count as family members.

Therefore, live-in aides, foster children and houseguests cannot be included when determining your family size or income. When considering family members who are related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, be sure to count:

  • Unborn children.
  • Children who are:
    • Away at school but return home for school breaks.
    • In the process of being adopted.
    • Placed in foster care outside your home.
    • In a joint custody agreement.
  • Family members who are temporarily or permanently out of the home due to:
    • Work or other assignments.
    • Treatment in a rehabilitation clinic.
    • In-patient care in a hospital.
    • Residency in a nursing home.

What are the Section 8 income limits in California?

One of the most important HUD housing requirements in CA is that your family’s income must fall below a certain amount. In general, you will meet the qualifications for Section 8 if your family’s income is at or below 50 percent of the median family income for your area.

However, many PHAs prioritize applicants to make sure families with 30 percent or less of the median family income receive housing vouchers first. Therefore, you can qualify for vouchers if you make less than 50 percent of the median income, but you may end up waiting longer than a family who makes less than 30 percent of the median.

The Section 8 income requirements vary somewhat from one region to the next. For example, you can qualify with a higher income if you live in a metropolitan area that has a higher median income than surrounding areas. At any rate, it is also important to understand how your family size affects your income eligibility.

In general, a smaller family must have a lower income than a larger family in order to qualify. For exact income requirements based on your family size, it is necessary to contact your local PHA. However, you can refer to the average income requirements in California in the table below:

Family Size 50 Percent of Median Family Income 30 Percent of Median Family Income
1 $27,150 $16,300
2 $31,000 $18,600
3 $34,900 $20,950
4 $38,750 $23,250
5 $41,850 $25,100
6 $44,950 $26,950
7 $48,050 $28,850
8 $51,150 $30,700

While the income limits for Section 8 can vary by area and family size, it is also important to keep in mind that the limits can change from one year to the next. Always ask your local PHA for the current requirements in your area.

Learn About California Section 8 Qualifications for Legal Presence and Residency

When asking, “Do I qualify for low income housing?” you also need to consider your citizenship or legal presence. In general, federally funded programs are only available if you are a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or a legally-present noncitizen. Each family member’s legal presence will be evaluated during the application process.

Your request for assistance will not necessarily be disqualified if some members of your family are not citizens or otherwise not legally present. In such cases, you have what is known as a “mixed” family.

If your mixed family is deemed eligible for Section 8, the amount of your assistance will be prorated, meaning that you may receive a portion of the amount that would have been awarded if every member of your family was legally present.

Learn About Additional Section 8 Requirements in California

When you are wondering how to qualify for Section 8 housing, there are a few additional points to consider. Even if you meet the CA Section 8 requirements for income, family status and legal presence, your application can be turned down for other reasons.

In general, you can be denied Section 8 if the PHA determines that you are unable to comply with the rules of the Section 8 program, or if activities from your past will present an issue in the community in which you choose to reside. Specifically, you may not meet the Section 8 qualifications if any of the following applies:

  • You owe debts to any PHA, such as late rent or payments for items you damaged in the unit
  • You or your household members are listed on a permanent sex offender registry
  • You have been evicted from any public housing unit because of drug-related activity or violent crimes in the past five years