To get housing for your family member you need to know:
- How to fill out the application;
- How to make sure the application gets to the right place and your family member gets onto the list; and
- How to make sure your family member REMAINS on the list.
How to fill out the application
First things first. Remember who is applying and who is going to be living there.
- Your family member with a disability is the head of household.
- They must be 18 or older to apply.
- Income refers to their income (no one else’s).
- Income includes income from all sources: a job, any benefits (including Social Security, SNAP [food stamps], child support payments, gifts from family, any medical expenses family pays for the person, etc.
- Assets refer to their assets (no one else’s).
- This includes all assets: bank accounts, stocks, bonds (including savings bonds), IRAs, etc.
- A vehicle only counts as theirs if their name is on the title.
- They are a household of one.
- They may need a two bedroom unit if they need a live-in aide, but they are still a household of one. (Note, the aide cannot be a close family member, or it will be a household of two, and the aide’s income and assets will be counted, too.)
- Even if they want to have a roommate, they are still a household of one if they are applying for a portable voucher. If they are applying for site-based housing, make sure they are the head of household and not the roommate. If they decided they don’t want to live together anymore, only the head of household gets to stay [although they’ll need to move to a smaller unit, unless they get another roommate].
There are some situations where your information may need to be substituted. They are:
- Use your phone number and email address if your family member is not able or likely to respond to calls or emails.
- Use your mailing address if your family member does not live with you and is not able or likely to respond to correspondence in a timely manner.
- Make sure the physical address is that of your family member, however, as that determines local preference for waiting lists. The exception to this is if their physical address is a school or hospital, and their legal address is still your address.
If asked, list reasonable accommodations needed. Examples might include:
- The housing authority should communicate with the guardian.
- Meetings with the housing authority and/or landlord need to be 1:1, with an advocate present.
- Explain the lease in simple language.
- The person needs a unit on a higher floor where it is quieter.
- If family pays any medical expenses for the person, include the amount paid under any question about income and again under any question about medical expenses — they will cancel each other out, but need to be listed in both places.
- Make sure the application is complete. On a paper application, either answer every question or write in “N/A” if the question doesn’t apply.
Getting the application to the right place and onto the list
- Always make a copy for your own records before submitting a paper application; print a copy of any online application.
- It is a good idea to ask for a written receipt for any application and supporting documents you submit in person. Also ask the person taking the application to look it over for completeness.
- It is a good idea to mail all correspondence “certified mail” and “return receipt requested”, so you have proof you mailed it, and that it was received.
Remaining on the list
In general, it is a good idea to check on the status of your family member’s application annually (or more often, if the waiting list requires it).
For written applications:
- Write a letter annually to confirm your family member is on the list. Make sure you use the exact name of the list in question. Many housing authorities administer more than one list, and you need to know which one(s) your family member is on.
- Any letter should be signed by the person with a disability if they are able; otherwise, you should include a copy of the guardianship letter.
- All correspondence should be mailed “certified mail” and “return receipt requested”.
For online applications:
- Login at least annually (the Section 8 Centralized Waiting List may require you to login every 3 months; make sure you make a note of when they want you to next login).
- Update information as needed — it is critical that the physical address and mailing address both be kept up to date.
For all applications:
- Keep a spreadsheet of everywhere your family member has applied. Include the exact name of the waiting list, the date of the application, and every date you have contacted the list either by mail or by logging in. A spreadsheet is in the document library on this website. (Translations of the spreadsheet in Arabic, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese are available on the Translations page.)
- When applying for site-based housing through a housing authority, make sure you regularly review where your family member is applying, and remove any locations they are not willing to accept. Otherwise, if they reach the top of a list and turn down a location, they might be removed from all waiting lists maintained by that housing authority.
- When your family member nears the top of a list, you will be contacted to update your family member’s application, to potentially supply additional information, and to provide documentation.
- Never miss a deadline or a meeting. If you can’t make it to a meeting, make sure you contact them ahead of time to reschedule. Remember, there is always someone in line behind your family member willing to take their spot.
(Please note that nothing on this website is intended as legal advice, there is no guarantee the information provided is accurate, and using the information provided does not guarantee one will receive a housing voucher. For a complete legal disclaimer, please click here.)