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How to get Section 8 even when the wait lists are closed

  • The list of applicants who meet the basic program eligibility requirements, and have been selected as a potential tenant is called a waiting list.
  • The open waiting list means the list that is currently open until the set close date in the future. The housing authority will accept applications for the waiting list until it closes.
  • You may not apply to a closed waiting list, under any circumstances. Section 8 is not an emergency housing program, so even an emergency housing issue would not allow you to apply.

You must wait until the waiting list you are interested in reopens, or apply to a nearby open waiting list

Section 8 Housing is a housing program is a key to financial survival for those who are low-income and disabled. At the same time, it is hard to get on the waiting list.  Generally, many people look for Section 8, when they call a few agencies and being told the waiting lists are closed, they give up. If you are willing to be persistent, it is possible.

Basic Information

  1. Active lists of Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance are those waiting lists that are currently open or opening soon for application submissions.
  2. Households may apply to open affordable housing rental assistance waiting lists nationwide.

III.    Submit an application through a HUD Public Housing Authority with an open waiting list.

  1. Applications may only be submitted while the waiting list is open. There is no standard length of how long a waiting list may be open. If the waiting list is closed, it may not reopen for months or years.

How to approach

As a first step, you should call your local Housing Authority and ask about the status of a waiting list and whether they are accepting applications for Section 8 housing vouchers. Also, check their website.

One must call everywhere listed as a “senior” or “elderly” and ask if they accept younger people as well,   with disabilities. There are a lot of nicer places with shorter waiting lists. In case, you are not approved for Social Security disability, you can still apply with a doctor’s letter.

In regular practice, the housing office confirms waiting list placement by sending letters to applicants or allowing them to log in to the online portal. Some housing offices only notify those who have been included in the waiting list, while the others, not receiving a letter were not placed on the waiting list.


Applicants will be placed on the waiting list either by date or by random lottery method.

There could be a range of reasons as to why an application is not placed on the waiting list. There is a high ratio of rejection due to the fact that there is a high demand for housing assistance, with a limited number of vouchers. For example, if a housing office is placing 1,000 applicants on the waiting list by date and time, and 2,500 people apply, the late-submitted application may be denied because all spots were filled before the office got to their application. Or, in a lottery system, an applicant may be denied for not being chosen in the balloting. If you were denied a place placed on the waiting list, the housing authority is required to provide the reason along with information about requesting an informal review.

Once on a waiting list, your wait time varies greatly depending on the office you applied through, but still, it is not unusual to be on a waiting list for several years. Factually, large metropolitan areas have long waiting lists, while shorter waiting lists for lower populated areas.

It is advised to keep in contact with the housing office you applied through to know if a representative can calculate the length of the waiting list or ask them how you can access its Annual Plan. The annual plan is updated yearly, could contain details regarding the current number of families on the waiting list, and the annual turnover rate. Not all housing authorities offer all this information on their annual plans.

Find out how to periodically check your waiting list status with an office. Usually, this will either be done online, by phone or at the office. Some offices are unable to provide your specific position on the waiting list but will confirm if you are still on the waiting list.


If there occurs any change in your application information i.e. contact information, income, and household member, it needs to be updated, otherwise, your application may be terminated from the waiting list (failing to reply a notice when contact no. or address is changed). In this situation contact the office asking how to officially update application information.

Housing offices send notices to all persons on the waiting list, asking their consent to remain on the waiting list. Applicants failing to respond within the given time frame will be deleted from the waiting list. This is known as purging and adapted to process applicants as efficiently as possible for updating a waiting list on merit.

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