Re: any units in cohousing accept sec 8 vouchers?
From: Jenny Guy (
Date: Sat, 27 Dec 2014 13:48:00 -0800 (PST)
On Sat, Dec 27, 2014 at 7:27 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>

> I don't think every state has the same process. Is Section 8 a federal or
> state administered program?

​It is federal HUD money, but at least where I am, it is administered by
the individual cities.​

​We have 1 unit on Section 8, and the check comes from the Oakland Housing
Authority. So does the inspector, who checks the apartment once a year. I
think it may be administered directly by HUD in some places, and maybe by
the state or the county in some.

The federal money is distributed partly based on the population, but partly
each state and each county gets a certain amount. So it's much easier to
get a voucher in states with low populations like Montana and Wyoming. It's
also quicker here in California if you're not in the main urban areas, tho
it's still quite a wait. Once you have the voucher, if you stay where you
got it for 6 months or a year (different places have different amounts of
time), you can take it with you and go anywhere in the country. So some
people move to less populous areas, just to get vouchers.​

> Once the unit is approved, is it always approved? Can another person who
> qualifies for Section 8 rent that unit under that program?

> I know the person has to qualify, but now does the qualification apply to
> the specific unit or with the Association?

​The person has to qualify *and* to wait until there's room for them in the
program. In most programs where you get assistance ​if you qualify --
like food stamps
​ --​
 when the program isn't sufficiently funded, they lower the amount everyone
gets. With Section 8, they pay market rate (more or less), but since there
isn't nearly enough money in the program for everyone who qualifies, you
have to get on a waiting list. Here in the Bay Area, people have sometimes
waited more than 20 years. And you can't just go down and get on the
waiting list here; every year or 2 they have a sign-up day, and you have to
sit home re-dialing the phone to try to get through. I think they may have
done a lottery last time. That's just to get on the waiting list.

It's a great program, if you can get in.

Anyway, for those who finally get a voucher, they can use it to rent any
dwelling that qualifies. There are restrictions as to what you can have,
like if you're a single person, you can only rent a studio or 1 bdrm. I
know they used to insist that, say, a single mother with a boy and girl had
to have a 3 bdrm place. I don't know if they still do. Each locality
a price list, with the maximum the rent can be for
​a 1 bdrm, a 2 bdrm etc.​
 The landlord has to ​fill out some forms -- it wasn't hard -- and the unit
has to be inspected for habitability, and re-inspected every year.
​The tenant's portion of the rent is based on their income, and gets
adjusted annually.​

Some of the criteria are annoyingly arbitrary. I once rented out a unit
that had a stove with a double oven, and the smaller oven wasn't working.
It didn't pass inspection even tho it had a working cooktop and one
working, standard-size oven.  Things like that can be annoying, and it
depends on which inspector comes out that day, but generally I've found
them reasonable to work with. There are a lot of slumlords who rent thru
Section 8, and I don't know how they get their units to pass.

Kingfisher Cohousing, Oakland CA

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