Housing and rental prices dropped dramatically during the recession that began in 2008. During this time, millions of Americans, including single mothers, found themselves without jobs and, in many cases, without a place to live. While the economic decline of the country drastically lowered housing costs, consumers still had difficulty qualifying for a place to live. Luckily there are alternative and affordable housing programs for single mothers.
The Section 8 Program provides monthly rental subsidies to those who otherwise cannot afford a decent place to live.
The Housing Act and Section 8 Housing for Single Mothers
The Section 8 Program is named after the program’s respective section in the Housing Act of 1937. The Act was passed during the Great Depression as a way for the government to provide affordable housing options for Americans who had been affected by the decline in the economy during the time.
Through the Housing Act, housing authorities were set up in every locality across the country. These housing authorities, funded by the federal government, were instructed to implement Section 8 on the local level. Initially, Section 8 allowed local housing authorities to admit families into apartment complexes owned by the government. Then, based on a family’s financial status, the authority would determine how much money the family would pay each month in rent. Because these apartments were owned by the government, payments were made to local housing authorities instead of private landlords.
Since the Act’s inception in 1937, countless single moms and struggling families across the country have taken advantage of the program.
Section 8 in its Current Form
In 1965, an amendment was added to the original Housing Act that changed Section 8. Instead of admitting tenants into complexes that the government owned, Section 8 would now subsidize rent payments to private landlords. The tenants would be responsible for the remainder of the monthly rent payment, an amount that is determined by each respective housing authority during a certification period.
Section 8 housing for single mothers and other applicants is now comprised of two systems: Project based vouchers and tenant based vouchers. Project based vouchers are issued to tenants who have been admitted to a property owned by the housing authority itself. Tenant based vouchers are issued to individuals who have been approved to live in a property owned by a private landlord. Single moms who hold tenant based vouchers will have a much easier time moving from one apartment to the next because project based vouchers are issued on a basis of where the tenant lives.
How to Receive Section 8 for Single Mothers
Single mothers who wish to take advantage of Section 8 must follow a specific set of guidelines in order to be placed on a list for consideration.
Some of the basic requirements for Section 8 include:
- S. citizenship or legal permanent residence
- Clear criminal background
- For single mothers, valid proof of guardianship over the children
- Proof of state residency
- Be able to qualify under the basic Section 8 guidelines
The first step in the process for receiving Section 8 housing benefits for single mothers is to apply at the housing authority that oversees their area of residence. Once the initial application is processed, the family must wait until they are called to apply in person. This portion of the process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the location of the housing authority and the number of applicants they must process.
If the family is chosen as part of the lottery system, they will be called upon by the authority to make an appearance and meet with a housing specialist. The family will be required to bring in a significant amount of documents, including income verification documents, bank statements, proof of residence, proof of current national status forms that list any additional government benefits and more.
The specialist will then have a brief meeting with the family and finally make a determination as to whether or not they qualify for Section 8 and if the family will be placed on the project based voucher system or if they will receive a tenant based voucher. If the application is approved, the family is put onto the waitlist for Section 8 housing.
How long is the Waitlist for Section 8?
The timeframe for being accepted into the program itself from the waitlist will depend on the agency itself. Many smaller housing agencies deal with smaller populations, therefore decreasing the amount of time a family spends on the waitlist.
Single mothers who live in metro areas with large populations often have to wait years before acceptance. Housing authorities issue vouchers based on the amount of funding they have, the number of units available and the processing time for each applicant.
For single mothers, going through the Section 8 Program approval process can be a daunting task. The easiest way to complete the process is to visit the housing authority in your local community and find out if there are any openings. To increase your chances of being accepted into a program, single mothers can also apply to housing authorities that surround their community and wait to see if any spots open up.
One of the biggest factors that cause families to be denied Section 8 housing is paperwork. Single mothers should always have their paperwork in order and ready for processing should they be called in for an appointment.