Finding an affordable place to call home is out of reach for too many Missouri families. With rents rising faster than wages in many areas, over 106,000 low-income households in the state depend on Section 8 vouchers to cover their housing costs.
If you’re struggling to pay rent each month, Section 8 may be the answer.
This guide will walk through eligibility, applying, using your rental voucher, and recertifying each year so you can access affordable housing through this vital program. We’ll also look at additional money-saving Federal assistance programs and resources you can access with your Section 8 benefits.
Section 8 Affordable Housing Choice Vouchers: How Does It Work?
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program provides rental assistance to qualified low-income residents across Missouri. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and managed locally by Public Housing Authorities (PHAs).
Here’s a quick overview of how Section 8 works:
Eligible households receive vouchers to cover a portion of rent and utilities. You pay 30% of your adjusted income towards rent.
You can choose any suitable rental unit that meets your requirements and where the landlord accepts Section 8.
The PHA pays the remainder of the rent amount directly to the landlord each month.
Vouchers must be renewed each year by recertifying your eligibility.
Section 8 helps make safe, decent housing affordable. But you must follow all program rules to avoid losing your voucher.
Do You Qualify for Section 8 in Missouri?
Meeting the eligibility requirements is key to getting Section 8 rental assistance. You must:
Fall under income limits - Your total household income must not exceed 50% of the median income in your area. Limits depend on family size and location.
Prove Missouri residency - You must show legal residency status in Missouri to get state Section 8 benefits.
Pass background checks - Criminal history can affect eligibility, especially violent offenses and sex crimes.
Eligibility does not equal immediate acceptance, unfortunately, as long waiting lists exist in most areas. But applying quickly gives you the best shot.
Navigating the Section 8 Application Process
Getting approved for a Section 8 voucher in Missouri involves:
Finding an Open Waiting List - Check the websites for your local public housing agency (PHA) or the Missouri Housing Development Commission for open waiting lists in your desired area. Lists can be years long.
Completing the Application - Apply online or request a paper application from the PHA. Supply household details, income docs, ID, etc.
Interviewing with the PHA - Attend an in-person or phone interview to verify details and determine eligibility.
Awaiting Voucher Approval - Get added to the waiting list. Once your name reaches the top, receive a voucher.
Searching for a Rental Unit - Find a qualifying home, duplex, apartment, etc that accepts vouchers. It must pass inspection.
Though waitlists are long, persistence is key. Call your PHA with any questions.
Using Your Section 8 Housing Voucher
Once you receive rental assistance, you can begin your housing search:
Locate a unit that meets program criteria and takes Section 8 vouchers. Consider size, location, condition.
Pay 30% of your adjusted monthly income towards rent and utilities. Section 8 sends their portion directly to the landlord.
Follow all Section 8 rules and voucher policies to avoid jeopardizing your rental assistance.
Renew your voucher each year through recertification. You must prove continued eligibility.
Notify your PHA caseworker of any changes in income, employment, or family size, as these could impact your voucher amount.
Using a Section 8 voucher responsibly provides stability and affordability. But you must hold up your end.
Maintaining Section 8 in Missouri Through Annual Recertification
To keep your rental voucher, you must complete the annual recertification process:
Respond to all PHA requests and return forms by the deadlines provided. Forms verify eligibility factors and any changes.
Attend an interview, either remotely or in-person, with the PHA. You will answer questions on your household status.
Allow your unit to be inspected again to ensure it still meets HUD’s Housing Quality Standards. Any failed items must be repaired.
Provide updated details on income, employment, family size, contact information, rental history, etc.
Promptly report any changes that occur throughout the year, not just at renewal time.
Staying organized and communicating changes will help more applicants avoid a lapse in Section 8 benefits.
Unlocking Additional Savings for Section 8 Households
Using your Section 8 housing benefits offers you access to more than just rental assistance. You also qualify for the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program.
The Lifeline program provides discounted phone and internet service to low-income households. Eligible subscribers can receive up to $9.25 off their monthly phone bills by enrolling in Lifeline with participating wireless providers.
Affordable Connectivity Program
The Affordable Connectivity Program offers a $30 monthly discount on internet service for eligible low-income households. It can be combined with Lifeline discounts on phone service to maximize monthly savings on phone and internet bills for qualifying families.
FREE Cell Phone and Data Service When Qualifying for Lifeline and ACP
Qualify for Lifeline and ACP by participating in the following programs in Missouri:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance/ Section 8
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income
- Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Tribal Head Start
You may also qualify for Lifeline if your income is 135% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
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Applying for Section 8 in Missouri With Patience
After reading this guide, you should better understand the Section 8 housing process in Missouri, from meeting eligibility criteria to using vouchers and recertifying each year. If you need help paying rent, make sure to take these steps:
Check for open PHA waiting lists in your desired counties or cities in Missouri. Submit your Section 8 application right away, even if the lists are very long. Then call the PHA regularly to verify your status as you await a voucher.
It can take time and persistence to secure Section 8 housing assistance. But this program makes thousands of Missouri homes affordable for families in need. Don’t wait - take the first step and apply for Section 8 today to get help covering your rent!