How does Section 8 work in Oklahoma? You might have heard from your friends and families about all the good things that Section 8 (or the Housing Choice Voucher program) can bring to your life. Over the years, the federally-funded housing assistance program has helped numerous lower-income households access affordable, decent and safe housing unit.
But how does it work in real life? What are the income eligibility requirements? Who can you contact if you have questions about how the application procedure work? Most important of all, does it work differently across different states?
Our goal is to help you find the answers to these questions and in this blog, we will focus specifically on applicants living in the state of Oklahoma. You will find out what the program's eligibility criteria is and also benefit from a step-by-step introduction to the application process.
Introduction to Oklahoma Section 8 Housing Program
The Section 8 Housing, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, is a federal program that helps pay portion of the rental expenses for low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities so they afford a housing unit.
Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency (OHFA), the body responsible for administering the program in the state, adopts a free choice approach that allows residents eligible for the program to search for a place of their own choice in the private market.
But there are of course restrictions - the maximum amount of rent covered by the program is determined by the Fair Market Rent (FMR) rates applicable to your area. Typically, the amount of Section 8 housing choice voucher you can receive is calculated based on your family's adjusted income and the applicable FMR rate. In addition, if you are a first-time participant or are transferring from one unit to another, you will have to pay up to 40% of your households' monthly-adjusted income for the initial term of the rental contract.
As mentioned, the program's targeted beneficiaries are low income tenants in Oklahoma. So to qualify, you will have to meet some basic requirements:
- Income Limits: The income limit is set at 50% of the median income for the county in which you choose to live.
- Citizenship status: U.S. citizens or registered legal aliens.
- Criminal Record: No drug-related or violent criminal convictions or any record of evictions due to drug-related or violent criminal activities.
There may be other factors that can impact your eligibility and they tend to change from time to time. For more updated and comprehensive information, contact your local housing authorities.
Find a suitable rental unit
The first step is to find an appropriate place that satisfies Housing Quality Standards (HQS). Also, your prospective landlord must agree to participate in the program. For the latest low income housing list, you can get them from public housing authorities. Alternatively, you can also search for available rental units at www.affordablehousing.com.
Submit the application:
Your next step is to complete the application on OHFA's website or submit a paper application to your local housing authority to be placed on OHFA’s waiting list.
OHFA will review applications and select applicants from the waiting list based on the date and time of receipt. A useful tip is to include proof of disabilities or homelessness (if applicable). Both of these can help expedite the processing of your application. Note that he processing time could be as long as several months or even years.
When you are selected, HFA will reach out to you to schedule an interview, during which you will be required to provide proofs of your income and household composition.
After that, OHFA will issue a voucher and you will have 60 days to find a suitable rental property if your application is verified. You may require an extension by submitting a written request to your local public housing authority before the voucher expires if 60 days is not sufficient.
Schedule a HQS inspection
Once the owner/landlord approves your rental request and agrees to participate in the program, you have to submit a completed Scheduling Request Form to OHFA to arrange a HQS inspection.
Sign the contract
If all HQS requirements are satisfied and the rent is considered reasonable, OHFA will enter into a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract with the owner and you can sign the lease agreement with the owner.
Rent is assessed by comparing the rent of unassisted units of similar conditions. If the unit does not meet HQS requirements, the inspector will give you and the owner a list of repairs with the required timeframe. Tenants cannot pay property owners/landlords more than OHFA authorized rent.
Receive rental assistance
After the contract and lease are signed, OHFA will make payments to the owner as long as you and the property both stay eligible. It's important to note that you are responsible for any security deposits for housing and utilities.
You don't have to re-apply for the program if you would like to move to another qualifying housing unit. However, you do need to submit a written moving request to OHFA’s recertification team before searching for and moving to another place.
Once approved, OHFA will send you a voucher authorizing you to locate a new housing unit, a cover letter stating your gross and monthly-adjusted income, bedroom size eligibility and an appointment request form for the HQS inspection. You are allowed to stay at your current place while searching for a new place. The Oklahoma public housing authority will continue to pay rental subsidies directly to the landlord during this period. Don't forget to check your lease and give your landlord written notice as required, otherwise, you may lose the housing voucher and be prohibited from reapplying for 3 years.
Save More with FREE Cellphone and Unlimited Data
If you qualify for Section 8 in Oklahoma, there is a good chance that you are also eligible for other government assistance programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and Lifeline. Through these programs, you can save on your mobile phone bill and, if you are a Oklahoma resident, get a brand new FREE smartphone!
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The ACP is a federal program that enables needy households to access cheaper quality phone and internet services. If your family income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or any members of your household receive Federal Public Housing Assistance, you will be eligible for the benefit.
The Lifeline Program
Similar as ACP, Lifeline provides discounted mobile service to financially disadvantaged residents in Oklahoma. To qualify, your or your family income must be at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Lifeline offers a basic phone service discount of at least $9.25 each month (up to $34.25 if you're living on tribal lands).
Apply for the ACP or Lifeline through directly through EASY Wireless, you will score an Unlimited Plan that includes a FREE smartphone and more:
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- Choose to Keep Your Number or Get a New One
To get started with EASY Wireless, apply online by clicking the below:
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Or you can drop by one of the EASY Wireless's retail stores, where our customer service agent will help you apply for the benefits.
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