Arizona Section 8: Find Affordable Housing for Your Family

In this article...
  • Discover how the Arizona Section 8 program can help you find housing you and your family can afford. Understand the eligibility requirements for benefits.

Rents are rising all over the country, particularly in Arizona, which has seen explosive growth in the 21st century. These high prices put safe, clean housing out of reach for many Arizona households that earn below the median income. But housing assistance programs are available to help bridge the gap between what your family can afford and what the market rents are in your area. The most popular of these programs is Arizona Section 8 housing.

What Is Arizona Section 8 Housing?

Arizona Section 8 housing is an assistance program administered by the Arizona Department of Housing in conjunction with public housing authorities (PHAs) located throughout the state. Using funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Section 8 program issues vouchers to qualifying low-income Arizona households. These vouchers cover the difference between what the family can afford to pay in rent — usually between 30 and 40 percent of their gross monthly income — and what the rent actually costs in the area.

Compared to other housing assistance programs, Section 8 offers high flexibility. Other affordable housing initiatives, such as government housing and tax-credit communities, provide funding at the housing site level. This limits tenants to a list of specific communities. Section 8 vouchers, in contrast, are paid directly to tenants, who can use them to rent from any eligible landlord or community.

Who Is Eligible for Section 8 Housing in Arizona?

To receive a Section 8 housing voucher in Arizona, you must qualify on an income basis and meet certain other eligibility requirements. If you don't qualify for Section 8, you can pursue other affordable housing options.

Income Limits

HUD breaks low-income households into three tiers. Your eligibility for Arizona Section 8 benefits depends on which tier your household is in.

  • Low income tier: Your household makes less than 80% of the median household income for the area.
  • Very low income tier: Your household makes less than 50% of the median household income for the area.
  • Extremely low income tier: Your household makes less than 30% of the median household income for the area.

You have to be in at least the low income tier to qualify for Section 8, and priority is given to households in the very low and extremely low tiers. HUD guidelines state that at least 75% of vouchers should go to households in the extremely low income tier.

The amount of your voucher depends on your income and on market rents in your area. HUD tries to ensure that no household spends more than 40% of its gross monthly income on rent. So, the higher the area market rents and the lower your income, the larger the voucher needed to cover the shortfall.

Here are the
income maximums for Section 8 consideration in various Phoenix metro areas:

Metro area

One-person household

Two-person household

Four-person household





Lake Havasu City












Sierra Vista












Other Eligibility Requirements

In addition to having a household income below the HUD limit for your location and family size, you must meet a few additional eligibility requirements:

  • Your household members must be U.S. citizens or legal residents.
  • Your household members must undergo criminal background checks. Any of the following offenses may be disqualifying:

    • Felonies
    • Violent crimes
    • Sex crimes
    • Drug crimes
  • You must not owe money to a previous landlord you rented from under the Section 8 program.

Other Affordable Housing Options in Arizona

If you do not qualify for Section 8 benefits in Arizona, or if the waiting list in your area has no openings, you can pursue other affordable housing options. These include:

  • Income-based rental communities. Also known as tax-credit communities, these properties are available at a discount to low-income tenants. The government covers the shortfall between the market rent and the discounted rent in the form of tax credits to the landlord or community.
  • Government housing. Also known as project housing, these are properties owned and maintained by the government for low-income tenants.

What Happens Once I'm Approved for Arizona Section 8?

Once you're approved for Arizona Section 8, three steps still remain before you can move into your new place. You first have to get on the waiting list and wait for your name to come up. When it does, you must claim your voucher. Finally, you have to find a home.

The Waiting List

Unfortunately, getting approved for Section 8 in Arizona doesn't result in a voucher being placed in your hand right away. There is a wait — often a long one. You have to contact the PHA for your county or metro area and sign up for the waiting list.

Not all PHAs keep their waiting lists open at all times. Some cities and counties close theirs when the demand for vouchers far exceeds the supply. If the waiting list in your area is closed, you have two options. One is to keep checking back periodically. Or, if you're willing to move to a different part of the state, you can sign up for a waiting list in a different area that is open.

Once you get on the waiting list, it could be weeks, months, or even a year or longer before your name comes up. This also depends on supply and demand. If you or someone in your household falls into a specific high-need category, such as homeless, pregnant or elderly, you might be able to get off the waiting list faster.

Claiming Your Voucher

The PHA will notify you when your name has reached the top of the waiting list. You can then fill out the final paperwork and receive your voucher, at which point you can start looking for a home. HUD recently changed its rules on how long you have to find housing before you lose your voucher, eliminating the 120-day maximum.

Finding a Home

Finding a home in Arizona where Section 8 is accepted can sometimes be difficult, particularly during periods of high demand. The Arizona Department of Housing website has several tools that may help you in your search.

Do All Landlords in Arizona Accept Section 8?

Landlords are not required to accept Section 8 in Arizona. Therefore, when you find a property you like, save time by asking the landlord (or the real estate agent assisting with your search) up front if your voucher will be accepted. An Arizona landlord cannot turn you down because of a disability.

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