Frequent Pitfalls

Not responding to waiting list update letters

Housing authorities will usually place you on a waiting list when you first apply for a Section 8 voucher or public housing. While you are on the waiting list it is very important that you respond to all letters from the housing authority. They may write to you to ask for more information or to ask if you are still interested in housing.

Because people can apply to many different housing authorities and be on many waiting lists at once, most housing authorities update their list often to make sure that everyone on it still wants a voucher. If you fail to respond to an update letter from a housing authority, they will probably think you are no longer interested in a voucher and take you off the waiting list.

Not updating contact information while you are on a waiting list

While you are on a waiting list it is very important to tell the housing authority about any changes in your contact information. If the housing authority is unable to reach you to confirm that you are still interested in housing, or if they cannot contact you when your turn on the list comes, you may be taken off the list completely.

Only applying to one waiting list

In most areas there are not enough Section 8 vouchers or public housing units to help everyone that needs housing. When you apply to one of these programs, the housing authority will probably put you on a waiting list.

Some areas have very long waiting lists. In order to speed up the process of getting housing, you should apply to as many housing authorities as possible.

Not asking for help if you are having difficulty applying for, or participating in, a housing program

If your disability makes any part of the application process difficult for you, you are entitled to ask for a reasonable accommodation that will help you have a chance to participate in the program. Depending on your circumstances, reasonable accommodations may include help filling out applications, extra time to fill out applications or find rental housing, and assistance finding housing that will meet your specific needs.

You should tell the housing authority about any difficulty you are having with applying to or using Section 8 or Public Housing programs, and ask them to provide assistance.

Not returning to work because you fear losing your Section 8 subsidy

In order to help people start working, many public and subsidized housing programs have rules that allow tenants who start working to pay the same amount of rent for awhile after they start work.

If you are thinking about getting a job, you may be able to get an Earned Income Disregard (EID) to help you start working without paying more rent. An Earned Income Disregard means that if you start working after being unemployed, the amount you pay in rent will stay the same for a certain amount of time, even though you earn more money.

If you have an EID, for the first 12 months after you start working, income from your job is not counted towards your rent, so your portion of the rent stays the same. In the second 12 months, your housing authority will count only half of your total work earnings towards rent.

For example, if you earn $1000 each month, in the first 12 months, the housing authority can’t count any of this income when calculating your rent. In the second 12 months, the housing authority can only count $500 of your earnings per month when calculating your rent.

After the period of the EID, if you are earning enough money that your subsidy ends, you still have a safety net: the voucher remains in effect for one year, so that if your income goes down, the subsidy can start again.

Not asking for help when faced with a housing emergency

If you are having trouble paying your rent and you are participating in the Minnesota Supplemental Aid (MSA) or Housing Support (formerly Group Residential Housing) programs, additional funds may be available to help you. To find out more, contact your county or tribal human services office or Chat with a Hub expert.

The Crisis Housing Assistance Program can help you pay for housing costs, if you are hospitalized for mental illness or substance abuse treatment, and you are living in your own home or a rental unit that is not part of a government subsidy program. Your hospital or treatment facility can help you apply for the program. If you are approved, the payments are sent directly to person or agency you owe them to, like your landlord, mortgage company, or utility company.

If you are living in Section 8 or public housing and you are having trouble paying your rent, contact your local Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) or Public Housing Authority (PHA) for rental assistance.

Not seeking expert help when threatened with foreclosure

If you are having trouble paying your mortgage, or you are already facing foreclosure, it can be very hard to figure out what you should do. There are several programs that can help you. The first step to getting help is to call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).

1-888-995-HOPE is a hotline that is available to any homeowner in America having trouble paying their mortgage. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When you call 1-888-995-HOPE you will receive absolutely free foreclosure prevention counseling by expert counselors at HUD-approved agencies. When you call you will get help immediately - the counselors themselves answer the phone.

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