If you were counting on Section 8 housing assistance for your next rental, a long waiting list or strict eligibility criteria may have made it hard for you.

However, there are alternatives to the federal assistance program that can be helpful when attempting to rent a home on a low income.

While you may have thought you would be browsing Section 8 rentals for your next move, keep in mind, there may be other low-income apartments or options that can make your new rental more affordable.

It is important to review these potential choices, and understand how a new rental home can affect your budget – before you make a move.

To find out more about why your Section 8 application may have been rejected, and alternatives to this rental assistance program, review the following sections.

Section 8 Housing Waiting Lists

If you filled out a Section 8 housing application online application, and you were approved for the program, you may still have a long road ahead. Oftentimes, your local Public Housing Authority (PHA) will have an extensive list of eligible Section 8 tenants who are waiting for benefits.

This waiting list can form when the program has utilized all its funds on eligible applicants, but more eligible enrollees continue to apply for benefits.

When a Section 8 housing list begins to form with eligible candidates, you are placed at the bottom of the list, upon the approval of your application. In some cases, it can take months or years for you to reach the top of the list and obtain assistance with your next rental property.

While you are on the Section 8 waiting list, it is important to continue notifying the PHA if you have had family composition or income changes. These changes may affect your eligibility, which is confirmed, again, when your name reaches the top of the list.

Informing a PHA representative about household and income changes can ensure you are not waiting on the list for benefits that you will not qualify to receive.

You can also continue to look for a low income apartment for rent while you are on the list. If you feel confident in your ability to pay rent on a new property without assistance, you can advise the PHA to take you off the list.

You PHA will set local preferences for potential Section 8 housing candidates on the waiting list. These local preferences will vary, depending on your location, but may include a:

  • Homeless individual or family.
  • Family living in substandard and unsanitary conditions.
  • Household spending more than 50 percent of its monthly income on rent.
  • Family that has been displaced involuntarily.

If you meet one of these local preferences, you will move to the top of the list. However, keep in mind, you may still have a short wait before you obtain your first voucher.

Restrictions on Section 8 Rentals

You must meet specific eligibility requirements before you can look for Section 8 rentals, or be placed on the PHA’s waiting list.

These eligibility guidelines are based on your family’s size and the combined income earned. There are strict restrictions on which household members are counted in your family size.

Additionally, all household members that will live in the home must meet other eligibility requirements set by the PHA. For example, to be eligible for rental assistance benefits, your household cannot include a member who has been placed on the lifetime sex offender list.

When you complete a Section 8 housing application, a PHA representative will review your family composition, income and assets to determine your eligibility. You are required to submit proof of any information you provided on the application.

You may be asked to turn in:

  • Paycheck stubs.
  • Tax returns.
  • Social Security cards.
  • Additional financial information.

If your family composition or income changes at any time while living in a Section 8 rental, you must notify the PHA immediately. These changes can affect your eligibility.

If you are no longer found to be eligible for the program, you will not continue receiving vouchers.

Alternatives to the Section 8 Housing List

You can generally find low income apartments no waiting list options if you cannot afford to wait for Section 8 benefits. There are also other alternatives to the Section 8 program if you are ineligible for benefits.

It is important to learn about other rental assistance programs for which you may qualify, or low-cost rentals in your area, in order to ensure you continue to live within your means.

Find Low Income Apartments for Rent

You can usually find a low income apartment for rent in your area. These apartment complexes receive funding from government programs though the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

With this funding, they are able to offer lower monthly rents to tenants who earn low incomes.

By searching for “cheap apartments for rent near me” online, you may be able to find local properties that offer subsidized rent. Keep in mind, your household must earn within a specific income limit to live in a low-income apartment.

When you apply for an apartment, the property manager will review your income and household composition to determine if you qualify as a tenant.

Rent a Room

If you do not qualify for Section 8 housing, but are on a tight monthly budget, renting a room from a neighbor, friend or family member may work for you. While you may want your own place, renting a room is usually half the cost of an entire rental home.

By staying in a rented room for a few months, you can save your income, so you can afford a rental deposit on your own home quickly.

Lower Your Cost of Living

If your Section 8 application was rejected, but you feel you need assistance with your monthly rental payments, you may simply need to re-analyze your budget.

Cutting down on monthly expenses can make it easier for you to afford your rent.

You should consider:

  • Getting rid of cable.
  • Shopping around your internet or mobile phone plans.
  • Limiting the number of times you go out to eat each month.
  • Using coupons and other tactics to save money on groceries.

You can also look into a low income apartment for rent in your area, in order to see if you qualify. However, if you work hard to reduce your monthly expenses in other areas, you will find it easier to pay your rent each month.