Michigan Section 8 Housing: What You Need to Know

In this article...
  • Find out what it takes to qualify for Michigan Section 8 housing and the steps that are required to receive a voucher from the state and find a rental.

Michigan's Section 8 housing program helps families with low incomes find an affordable place to live. However, the program has strict eligibility requirements, and the demand for vouchers far outpaces the supply, often leading to long wait times. The better prepared you are going into the application process, the higher your chances of getting approved and getting a voucher quickly.

This guide discusses the eligibility requirements for Section 8 in Michigan and how to apply to the program as a tenant or landlord.

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What Income Is Required to Qualify for Michigan Section 8 Housing?

Michigan uses income limits set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to establish the criteria for Section 8 housing approval. HUD defines low-income households in three tiers:

  • Low income: At or below 80% of the area's median household income
  • Very low income: At or below 50% of the area's median household income
  • Extremely low income: At or below 30% of the area's median household income

Because these thresholds are based on both household size and geographic area, they can vary significantly from one family to the next depending on how many members the household has and what part of the state they're located in. For example, as of 2023, a one-person household must have an income at or below $42,500 to be considered low income in Flint, but an eight-person household in Livingston County can make up to $124,850 and still be considered low income.

Michigan families that fall into all three low-income tiers can qualify for various housing subsidies, but most tenant-based subsidy programs, including Section 8, require a household to have a very low or extremely low income. Households that fall into the low-income tier can often qualify for site-based housing subsidies.

Site-Based Subsidies vs. Tenant-Based Subsidies

Site-based subsidies and tenant-based subsidies are the two main types of housing vouchers in Michigan. Site-based subsidies are provided by the rental community itself. Communities that offer site-based housing subsidies are called "income restricted." They charge below market rent for the area and require prospective residents to prove that their annual earnings qualify as low income for their household size. The government typically provides these communities with tax credits that cover the difference between the market rate and their actual rental rates.

Tenant-based subsidies are paid directly to the tenant by the state and can be used to rent any property where vouchers are accepted. The
Section 8 program is a tenant-based subsidy, which is why it has stricter income requirements to get approved. The advantage of Section 8 over a site-based subsidy is that once approved for the program, you have a much wider range of rental options, as many landlords, apartment complexes and property management companies accept Section 8 vouchers.

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Section 8 Income Thresholds in Michigan's Major Cities

The table below shows the maximum income levels that qualify for Section 8 housing for a single person, couple and family of four in several of Michigan's major cities. This data was current as of 2023.

Metro area

Single person

Two-person household

Four-person household

Ann Arbor




Battle Creek




Bay City












Grand Rapids
























Other Section 8 Requirements

Aside from your income, you must meet these additional requirements to be eligible for Michigan Section 8:

  • S. citizen or legal alien
  • Able to pass a criminal background check
  • Not delinquent on child support payments

In addition, you will receive priority for a Section 8 voucher if you are in one or more of the following categories:

  • Currently homeless
  • Currently pregnant
  • Parent of a young child
  • Elderly
  • Disabled

What Is the Best Way to Apply for Section 8 Housing in Michigan?

The best way to apply for Section 8 housing in Michigan is to do it online via the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) website. Please note that you can only apply for Section 8 in a county that has an active waiting list. The Michigan state government website has a page that keeps an up-to-date list of counties with waiting lists that are currently active. If the county where you live and work is on the list, you can submit an application. However, this application simply gets you on the waiting list if you meet the criteria. It doesn't guarantee you a voucher right away.

The sooner you begin the application process, the sooner you can get on the waiting list for Michigan Section 8 housing and secure your place in line for a voucher. Don't get in too big of a hurry, though. Any errors or discrepancies on your application can result in a rejection, forcing you to start the process again.

To apply for Michigan Section 8 housing online, you'll need the following pieces of information:

  • Your full legal name
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your date of birth
  • Your annual gross income from all sources
  • If anyone is assisting you with the paperwork, their contact information

Is Section 8 Housing Always Available in Michigan?

Section 8 housing is not always available in all parts of Michigan. Counties open and close their waiting lists throughout the year based on the availability of vouchers, and just because a county has an open waiting list doesn't mean a voucher is available right away. Rather, it means they anticipate a certain number of vouchers to be available in the near future, so they're allowing people to sign up to wait for those vouchers. 

If I'm a Landlord in Michigan, How Can I Accept Section 8 Vouchers From Tenants?

To apply to receive Section 8 payments for your rental property, you must submit the following documents to the MSHDA:

  • Proof you're the legal owner of the property
  • Proof you are current on property taxes
  • Proof the property is insured

You must also undergo an annual inspection of your property to ensure it remains in compliance with HUD standards.

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