When you are a felon, you face many difficulties and especially finding affordable housing. If you can meet all the requirements and show your need for emergency help, you can apply for the Emergency Section 8 housing voucher.
When a felon is arrested and convicted, they lose their job, and it can be difficult affording housing after they are released back to society. After the release from prison, they mostly end up unemployed and homeless. It becomes quite difficult to survive without a house and an income.
Through Housing and Urban Development, the government has programs of value to felons about their housing needs. A felon with a need for housing can get a grant to satisfy this need. The programs are available countrywide and disbursed by local housing authorities in every state. Felons and other low-income earners get help through a program called Section 8.
What is Section 8 Housing?
It is a section in the United States Housing Act, 1937, although repeatedly amended to accommodate arising housing needs. It approves payment of rent for low-income households to private landlords for rental payment support.
What is Emergency Section 8 Housing?
This is an emergency or priority waiting list where getting help is accelerated for a reason. The emergency section 8 voucher enables an applicant to acquire housing quicker than the regular time.
Most times, the demand for housing supersedes the ability of the government to fund the housing. The process can take as long as two years to be approved. This is such a long time for someone whose need for housing is an emergency. That is where the priority list comes in to help those without the luxury of time.
There are some cases that the Public Housing Agency (PHA) may deem as emergencies, therefore, moving them up the waiting list. Your application may receive an approval within months. The Section 8 housing program is not an emergency, and PHA only grants Emergency Section 8 housing on extremely wanting cases that cannot wait. Most of the time, felons do not qualify for the emergency Section 8 housing.
For a case to be considered an emergency or a priority, the PHA considers the following issues.
- You are a senior citizen.
- A single parent with small children whose 50% of the income goes towards paying rent.
- You are a veteran.
- If you lost your home due to a natural disaster or fire.
- You have a medical emergency.
- When you are homeless or live in a shelter.
- You are a local in the area.
- If you are a person living with a disability.
- You are facing eviction without fault.
- If you are a man or woman facing domestic violence
Felons can also utilize the section 8 voucher program that allows a felon to live in a house of choice, provided it is within the required standards. The landlord must also be part of the program. Rent is paid in grant vouchers that a felon will never have to pay back. A Felon can get assistance from the programs by opting to live in a HUD-owned housing complex. Another option for a felon with low incomes is to live in these complexes that charge low rent.
Eligibility for Section 8 Housing
- For approval, you must be in a relatively low-income range. The household income should not exceed 50% of the average income within your local area.
- Your felony should be at least five years or older. Other states’ limits are as high as ten years.
- A felon will need proof of citizenship.
- You should have little or no assets.
The amount in the section 8 voucher is dependent on where your area. You are not limited to one housing unit. You can move houses according to your needs and liking. Provided that the house you move into is for a section 8 landlord, the PHA will send the new landlord the voucher. As a felon, the section 8 voucher does not get paid to you. It is paid directly to the landlord.
A felon who has gone through a rehabilitation program can accelerate their acceptance in the Section 8 program. They do not have to wait for the lapse of the criminal history period.
Crimes That Make a Felon Ineligible for Section 8 Housing
1 If you have a conviction of the production of methamphetamine in assisted housing.
2 You or a member of your household has a record of drug abuse.
3 Perpetual rent defaulter. The PHA considers effort made towards paying rent even when you could not pay the full rent.
4 You are known to relate poorly with neighbors.
5 When you have a conviction of fraud, drug trafficking, and violent crimes.
6 If you are a registered lifetime sex offender
7 Having a history of not honoring conditions of a lease causing harm to you, people in your household or your neighbors.
8 Failing to provide essential and valuable information to the PHA at the time of your application.
9 If you become aggressive towards the housing authority employees at any point during the application and within three years of the application.
How to Apply for Emergency Section 8 Housing?
There is no limit to the local housing authorities you can apply to. Apply in as many as you can to raise your chances of approval sooner. Section 8 housing lists are sometimes closed for a period. Keep track so that you can apply as soon as they open. The application process for a felon is more complex as you must fill in more details than the rest.
Look out for the PHA with shorter a shorter waiting list. The possibility of the approval of your application is higher. Shorter deadlines mean the waiting list is about to be closed for more applications. It makes your chances of approval higher since the PHA deals exhaustively with the applications at hand.
Acquire all the information you can before applying to ensure that your application is filled correctly before submission. It will reduce the time you may be required to make amendments. Visit the PHA in person to get the correct information from the source.
Keep it honest. Providing false information can be detrimental to your application. The PHA conducts a thorough background check before admitting anyone. You can apply online or through local Housing Authorities.
Documents Required During Application
- Proof of legal status.
- Birth certificate
- Proof of residence
- The SSN
- Background check
- Proof of earnings
- Tax returns
- Bank statement
- Credit score
- Proof of residence and places you have lived within five years.
You will have to present yourself at the local Public Housing Agency for a one on one interview. If you can demonstrate the need for an Emergency Section 8 voucher, the housing officer may expedite your approval process.
Background Checks on Applicants
Every applicant to Section 8 housing or the Emergency Section 8 housing goes through a background check. The decision to approve applications rests with the local PHA. A felon does not have to be the primary applicant to undergo a background check.
The extent of your criminal background can affect your eligibility. Members residing within the same household with the applicant also go through the background check.
The PHA has the authority to check the criminal history of:
- Primary applicant
- Your children aged 16 years and older living with you.
- The biological parents of the children that will live with you in the housing program. This is whether or not they will live with you in the Section 8 house.
- Everyone who is currently residing with you at the time of application.
The background check is mandatory and does not depend on anyone’s criminal history. It is a requirement under the program. You can run your background check beforehand.
Finding a House Under Section 8 with a Felony
It can be quite daunting to find a rental house when you have as a felon. A landlord might have difficulty renting to a person whom they aren’t sure can meet their rental obligation. Sometimes they may label you a threat to other tenants, depending on your felon charge.
You can try looking for a house online. The HUD website contains all the houses under the programs to ease the search for Section 8 landlords. You can also search through online listings for suitable houses.
When you find a house, you still have to make an application with a lease. First, you need to apply to the landlord. Fill the application form completely and correctly. Ensure every detail is correct and take it to your local PHA. The PHA will issue a request for tenancy approval with your section 8 voucher.
After The Approval
Be keen on the terms prescribed on the lease. If anything is not understandable, seek translation, preferably from a PHA employee or a lawyer. The PHA will inspect before you move in to ensure the unit is tenable. There will be regular inspection; you better attend and make sure your unit is in impeccable condition each time.
After approval, you have limited time to find a house, mostly between 60-120 days. It depends on the PHA. If you can’t find a house within the timeframe, request an extension in time before the timeframe’s lapse.
The PHA grants the extension, but as long as you can prove your effort to search for a house. That is why you should record all the places you have been searching, and the responses received. Take pictures if possible.
As a felon, you might face discrimination apart from being discriminated against for being a voucher tenant. It may be quite challenging to find a house in an area of your preference due to your status. Some laws protect a tenant from discrimination because they are section 8 voucher tenants. Report such cases to your local PHA for assistance.
Why Your Section 8 Housing Voucher Can Be Taken Away?
You have now found a suitable place to call home under the Section 8 program. You may have followed the due process or the emergency application. Either way, you must keenly follow the conditions of the lease.
The decision to house you under Section 8 is reversible under some circumstances. If the PHA takes away your Section 8 housing voucher, you pay the full rent independently. Ensure to make timely payment of rent and regularly update the PHA of any changes in your income. Ensure also to keep the unit in tenable conditions at all times.
Reasons the PHA can take away your voucher.
- Activities to do with drugs.
- If the PHA discovers you lied in your application
- Failure to keep utilities in the unit.
- Being a rent defaulter and late payment of rent.
- Involvement in criminal activity that threatens the safety of other tenants.
- If you are evicted or not living in the unit
- Hosting unauthorized people.
- Not attending inspections and re-certification appointments.
You should know that even emergency applications take time to be approved. There are many applicants, and the process needs to be verified to avoid undeserving housing approval cases. There is no guarantee for approval for emergency section 8 housing. If you are in dire need, you can seek help from other programs that deal with housing. This website is a good place to start.
You can also try and expedite the process by keeping constant contact with the Public Housing Agency. A show of your determination can persuade the agency to give your application priority.
As stated in this article, you can apply to as many housing agencies as possible to keep your chances of approval high. The other option is enlisting help from a social worker. Social workers tend to know how the system works better and might help you move up the waiting list. Social workers do not charge any fee. Finally, you should always note the application deadline. You do not want to miss a deadline and have to wait for months to apply.
We hope this article will make your research on Emergency Section 8 housing easier and help you get the help you need.