Section 8 Interviews

Section 8 InterviewsIn the United States, the demand for Section 8 assistance is far greater than the amount of funding that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has available.

The HUD manages the Housing Voucher Choice Program in order to provide financial support to low-income families. Long Section 8 waiting lists and lottery-style selections can make the odds of receiving low-income housing incredibly slim. Applying in major cities where thousands of applications are submitted for very limited aid make the prospects of securing affordable housing seem unfavorable.

After you understand how to apply for Section 8 housing and complete your application, your household will likely be placed on a waiting list. In many cities, public housing agencies (PHAs) are no longer accepting applications because their waiting lists are filled with applications. Many of these agencies choose to conduct a lottery instead of adding thousands of households to the waiting list.

When your application gets chosen, whether by lottery or for a priority case, you will need to begin preparing for your Section 8 housing interview.

Section 8 Eligibility Interview

Unfortunately, there is no way to accurately predict how long a household will have to wait before being able to meet with a local housing authority for an eligibility interview.

Each year, the number of families that are reached for interviews depends on the availability of housing vouchers. As more vouchers become available to a PHA, applications will continue to be selected from their Section 8 waiting list.

Some housing authorities may mail you notices that will ask you if you want to opt to remain on the waiting list. Others will keep your application on hand until you receive a notification for an interview.

It is imperative that you keep your contact information up to date so that you can be reached when it is time to schedule your interview. The waiting list procedure may vary slightly from agency to agency.

Before the Interview

As your Section 8 application approaches the top of the waiting list, you want to begin gathering the necessary documents. Typically, you will not be asked to come to an in-person interview until your name reaches the top of the housing waiting list. However, it is essential that you prepare by gathering the necessary documents beforehand. Some documents that may be required for your interview include the following:

  • Your last four consecutive pay check stubs or a notarized statement of your proof of income. Although this may be difficult to organize if you have multiple jobs, arrange the documents in a way that makes sense to you. Be prepared to explain your pay checks and work situation during your interview.
  • Your retirement award letter. If you receive any benefits for from Social Security, you must provide evidence with an official letter.
  • Your most recent bank statements. The HUD requires that the finances of all households applying for low income housing assistance get a detailed inspection. This includes both checking and savings accounts. Online banking can make it easy to acquire these documents.
  • Public assistance award letters. This includes any benefits received for Medicare, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Be prepared to discuss all public assistance benefits your household receives.
  • Photo ID for every member of the household who is 18 years or older. Passports, driver’s licenses and state identification (ID) cards are acceptable forms of photo ID.
  • Social Security cards for all members of your household. Lost Social Security cards can take weeks to replace. Be sure to have everyone’s cards available before the date of the interview.
  • Birth certificates for every household member. These are generally used to prove age and citizenship.

When your application is selected from the Section 8 waiting list, you will receive a letter in the mail with a date for your eligibility interview. If you miss your scheduled appointment, your application may be terminated, and you will need to apply again. However, if an error was made in removing your request (incorrect mailing address or if you could not respond due to a disability), you may be able to have your request reinstated at the original location of the waiting list.

If your situation qualifies as a priority case, you may be able to skip to the top of the waiting list. In order to provide adequate proof of your situation, you may need to present the following documents to the housing authority:

  • Verification of Displacement – To prove a government displacement or a displacement as a result of a presidentially declared disaster.
  • Verification of Military Status – A military identification card or an official letter confirming current military status is acceptable.
  • Documentation of Disability – To confirm the existence but not the nature or extent of a disability.

During the Interview

When you meet up with your local public housing agency (PHA) for your Section 8 eligibility interview, you will be given an overview of how the program works. Housing agencies have different policies on who must attend an eligibility interview. In some cases, all household members must be present, while in others, only the applicant is required to attend.

Make sure that you take note of which PHA requires your entire household to attend the interview. When you apply for Section 8 housing in a location that requires you to travel, you should expect to stop by at least once for your interview.

When you arrive on the day of your Section 8 eligibility interview, make sure that you have all your required documents in hand. Your interviewer will explain program requirements, verification procedures and potential penalties for providing false information. The interviewer will then work to update and confirm all the information that you provided on your application.

Once your application is filled out as completely and accurately as possible, your interviewer will begin by requesting an acceptable form of legal identification. Then, she or he will start asking questions to verify that you meet the eligibility guidelines for Section 8.

During or immediately following a full eligibility review, applicants will go through multiple screening reviews. Some commonly screened histories include rental, housekeeping, drug abuse and other criminal history. Applications can be denied until housing vouchers are issued, so a good eligibility interview does not always guarantee that potential tenants will be accepted into the program.