How to Apply for Section 8 in Tennessee
- If you're struggling to pay your rent, you may qualify for Tennessee Section 8 vouchers. Learn how to apply for Tennessee Section 8 and who is eligible.
Tennessee Section 8 vouchers, also called Housing Choice Vouchers, subsidize the cost of renting a home for people on very low incomes. Local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) manage the program using funding provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD.)
It's essential to apply for Section 8 support as soon as possible because most PHAs have long waiting lists. This guide explains who's eligible for Tennessee Section 8 vouchers and how to apply.
Who Is Eligible for Tennessee Section 8 Support?
PHAs apply income and residency eligibility criteria to determine who qualifies for Tennessee Section 8 vouchers. They'll only approve your application if your household income is low compared to the median income in your area. Since thresholds vary from place to place, you may only qualify in certain areas of Tennessee.
Generally, PHAs use the following thresholds to assess your income for a Section 8 application:
- Low income: Household income equal to or less than 80% of the area median
- Very low income: Household income equal to or less than 50% of the area median
- Extremely low income: Household income equal to or less than 30% of the area median
There is no precise income cut-off for Section 8 housing support. However, the lower your income, the more likely it is that the PHA will approve your application. Most successful Tennessee Section 8 applicants are in the extremely low income bracket.
You can only receive Section 8 vouchers if you're a U.S. citizen or qualified alien. A poor housing support record, such as previous evictions, could disqualify you from receiving support, even if you meet the other eligibility criteria.
Is There a Waiting List for Tennessee Section 8 Vouchers?
You'll generally join a waiting list when you apply for Tennessee Section 8 vouchers because the funding provided by the HUD isn't enough to provide immediate support to everyone who needs it. Each PHA operates its own waiting list, and how the lists work varies significantly by area. Many close their waiting lists to new applicants when they become full, so you'll need to check your local PHA's website to find out when the waiting lists open.
For example, the Memphis PHA's waiting list is currently closed, with no scheduled dates for it to reopen. It processes applications on a first come, first served basis. Some PHAs may use different systems to allocate your waiting list position, such as assigning random numbers in lotteries.
Many PHAs have local preferences for Section 8 support, which means they prioritize certain demographics. Common local preferences include people who are homeless or living in very low-quality accommodations. Your PHA may also prioritize you if you were displaced by a natural disaster or you spend more than half your monthly gross adjusted income on rent.
How Much Rent Do Tennessee Section 8 Vouchers Pay?
Generally, households must spend 30% of their monthly gross adjusted income on rent and utilities while receiving Tennessee Section 8 support. Section 8 vouchers then pay the remainder of the rent, up to a limit known as the payment standard. PHAs base the payment standard on average rents for moderately-priced local rental properties. Therefore, the payment standard depends on where you live and the dwelling size.
You can choose a property that charges more rent than the payment standard. However, you can't rent a property that requires you to spend more than 40% of your monthly gross adjusted income on rent and utilities.
How Do You Apply for Tennessee Section 8 Support?
You can apply for Tennessee Section 8 vouchers by contacting your local PHA. A Section 8 specialist can explain how to complete the application and whether you're likely to be eligible based on your household's demographics. Some PHAs accept online applications, while others require you to complete a paper application. It's usually worth applying through several PHAs, as it may be more expedient to join more than one waiting list.
What Happens When I Reach the Top of the Section 8 Waiting List?
Your PHA will send you an approval letter when you reach the top of the waiting list. You may need to attend a meeting to demonstrate that you still meet the eligibility criteria, so it's a good idea to gather documents that prove your income and residency.
Once approved, you can begin looking for suitable income-based housing. Waiting lists for properties accepting Section 8 vouchers can be long, so you may prefer to apply for several. You can search for suitable accommodation on the HUD website. Alternatively, you can browse properties at TNHousingSearch.
Your PHA will only approve your lease agreement if the property is safe and well-maintained. Therefore, it will carry out a health and safety inspection before approving your support and repeat the check yearly. You must also undergo an annual review of your eligibility to continue receiving Section 8 vouchers.