Skip to main content

Housing Choice Voucher Eligibility

Tenant eligibility

You need to meet several criteria to be eligible for assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV), formerly known as Section 8. If you apply to the program and receive a voucher, the landlord you rent from and the unit you live in must also meet eligibility standards.

Seattle Housing Authority uses a lottery to place potential applicants on a waitlist for the HCV program. At the time an applicant is called off the waitlist the total household income must be 50 percent or less of area median income (AMI). Preference will be given to households that are at 30 percent or less of AMI.

Area median income is the midpoint income for the Seattle area. It is determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and means that half of the people earn more than the median, and half of the people earn less.

The limits listed below are current as of March 29, 2016, but may change without notice:

Family size 30 percent income limit 50 percent income limit
1 $19,000 $31,650
2 $21,700 $36,150
3 $24,400 $40,650
4 $27,100 $45,150
5 $29,300 $48,800
6 $32,580 $52,400
7 $36,730 $56,000
8 $40,890 $59,600
9 $45,050 63,250
10 $49,210 $66,850

A household's assets—money, property, and other goods having value—are taken into account when calculating your income. The actual value of your assets is not included, but income created from your assets is. If you have money in a savings account, for example, that money will not be added to your income. However, if you earn interest from the money in your account, the interest will be considered part of your annual income.

Criminal history

Seattle Housing Authority screens all applicants' criminal history. If it shows that they may not be a suitable resident, their application may be denied. Applicants are automatically denied for certain crimes, including:

  • Current use of illegal drugs
  • Methamphetamine production in public housing or elsewhere
  • Sex offenses requiring sex offender registration
  • A record indicating a pattern of alcohol abuse
  • Any crimes that indicate habitual criminal behavior

There will be a 12 month period of ineligibility for the program for any applicant or family member that has been convicted and incarcerated for a Class A felony. The 12 month period of ineligibility will begin upon the applicant's release from incarceration. Class A felonies include:

  • Arson
  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Explosives
  • Extortion
  • Homicide
  • Kidnapping
  • Leading organized crime
  • Machine gun use in felony
  • Malicious explosion of substance
  • Malicious placement of an explosive
  • Manslaughter
  • Possession of explosive device
  • Possession, manufacturing or disposal of incendiary devices
  • Robbery
  • Setting a spring gun
  • Trafficking
  • Treason

The list above is not a list of every offense that will result in a denial; others may also result in a denial.

While a criminal record will not automatically exclude an applicant from consideration, it is an important criteria. In determining eligibility, Seattle Housing Authority will consider an applicant's arrest record, but place greater emphasis on actual convictions.

Immigration status

You don't need to be a United States citizen to apply for housing, but you do need to be a citizen or have eligible immigration status to receive housing. Learn more about how immigration status affects assistance.

Debt owed to Seattle Housing Authority or another housing authority

Seattle Housing Authority will deny the applications of households who owe money to the agency or another housing authority until the debt is repaid in full.

Previous termination from the program

Seattle Housing Authority will deny applications if any member of the household has been terminated from the Housing Choice Voucher Program in the past five years.

Unit and landlord eligibility

A rental unit is eligible for the Housing Choice Voucher Program if it meets three criteria: it is properly zoned, it is rent-reasonable, and it passes an inspection based on the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development's Housing Quality Standards.

Any landlord willing to work within the guidelines of the Housing Choice Voucher Program is eligible to participate, as long as they are in good standing with Seattle Housing Authority.

Landlords may be barred from participating because they have breached leases with tenants or violated laws or program rules. Landlords are not allowed to rent units to relatives who are voucher holders.