Many Public Housing Agencies give certain groups of applicants priority assistance. These applicants generally meet additional requirements that put them at higher risk if they would be required to wait a long time before being assisted. 

Families and households that meet these preferences can often move up the Section 8 waiting list faster and receive rental assistance more quickly. Remember, each PHA operates independently under federal guidelines, so list preferences can vary between PHAs. 

Tips for Moving Up the Section 8 Waiting List and Getting Housing

Additionally, some public housing agencies may not have preferences for their waiting list, in which applicants are only assisted in chronological order. Usually, preferences are based on the area and the needs seen within a community. For example, cities with high poverty rates may have preferences for extremely low-income families. 

You may meet one of these preferences without even knowing it! That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with any waiting list you apply to. The faster you move up a list, the sooner your family may be able to get the housing help you need. 

Are you worried you won’t receive Section 8 rental assistance in time to get your family the help you need? There are certain scenarios in which you might be able to “cut” the line and get assistance immediately or faster. 

You may receive Section 8 priority assistance if you apply to a PHA that has any of the following preferences that your household meets: 

  • You are currently homeless 
  • Your income is extremely low 
  • A member of your household is at least 62 years old 
  • You or a member of your household is disabled 
  • You or a member of your household is a U.S. veteran 
  • You lost your housing and were displaced due to a natural disaster 
  • You or a member of your household is a victim of domestic violence 
  • There are young children in your household 

If your local Public Housing Agency has one of these preferences, and you meet it, you may not have to wait long to receive rental assistance. However, keep in mind that you will need to show proof of meeting the program requirements to qualify for Section 8 or a waiting list preference. If you’re not sure whether a PHA has an open Section 8 waiting list, a preference you qualify for, or if you meet the requirements for assistance, it may still help to submit an application to as many PHAs as possible. Even if you do not qualify for Section 8 in one area, you may qualify in another.