June 5, 2015
If you’re looking for Section 8 housing assistance, here’s something you need to know: scammers have made websites that look like registration sites for Section 8 waiting list lotteries. If you pay a fee or give your personal information, the scammers will take it. And you still won’t be on a real Section 8 waiting list. In fact, there is no fee to register for a Section 8 waiting list.
If you search online for the Section 8 voucher waiting list, the top search results often are bogus sites. The sites look very real: their names may say “Section 8,” and they might show an Equal Housing Opportunity logo. They ask for fees and your personal information, like your Social Security number, but they won’t do anything for you. The scammers will keep your money and disappear. They also may give your personal information to identity thieves.
Here’s the real way things work: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Section 8 program gives funding to local government housing authorities. The local authorities issue housing choice vouchers to help people find housing in privately-owned rental units. To get on the waiting list for a voucher, find your local housing authority and call or email them. Ask how to sign up for the Section 8 waiting list lottery in your area. As I said, there is no fee to register.
In another twist, some fake sites list Section 8 properties that supposedly are available. They promise you can rent one, if you pay the first month’s rent via wire transfer or a prepaid card. The properties might exist, but the ads are fakes placed by scammers. If you pay, you just lose your money.
People have lost money and personal information to scammers – but they’ve also lost the chance to be in the actual lottery. Most people don’t realize they’ve been scammed until after the waiting list is closed.
Keep these tips in mind to avoid a Section 8 lottery scam:
- Contact your local housing authority to find out how to register for the Section 8 waiting list lottery. You’ll find their email and phone number on the HUD site. Follow their instructions to sign up.
- Housing authorities do not charge fees, and they won’t reach out to you by phone or email to suggest that you join a waiting list. A housing authority also will never ask you to wire money or pay with a prepaid card. Those are sure signs of a scam.
- Treat your Social Security number and other personal information (say, credit card numbers), like cash. Don’t give them out on a website you find through a search.
Pierce County Housing Authority General Information
Due to response concerning our recent Section 8 applications, here are a few Questions & Answers (Q & A).
How does the selection process work?
Applications are selected by a random drawing and availability of funding.
When will I know if my application is accepted?
Applications are considered "accepted" once placed on the Wait-list. Call 620-5400 periodically to determine if your application was placed on the Wait-list.
Applications may not yet reach the Wait List because applications are still being processed for the wait list; or your application is missing information (which you will receive notification to supply by a specific date).
When an Application reaches the top of the Wait List, criminal record and income will be reviewed.
Applicants who do not meet the preliminary guidelines, or who do not provide all documentation within the required time frame, will be sent denial notification, reasons for the denial, and review information.
Applicant who meet the preliminary requirements will receive notification to complete and provide a packet of information for a briefing of the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
When do I report an address change, if I am moving or don't have a permanent address?
You must keep your address information current with PCHA and immediately report, in writing, any changes of your mailing address. Failure to keep your mailing address current with PCHA could result in missed deadlines and/or appointments, resulting in withdrawal of your application.
Is there a time limit to reply give information about my application?
Any correspondences from PCHA about your application, will advise you of the appointment date or deadline date to respond. You must cooperate to avoid withdrawal of your application.
Is assistance guaranteed once I receive my voucher?
Assistance is not committed until a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract is signed with PCHA and the Owner (and Dwelling Lease signed by Owner and Tenant is provided to PCHA for the same Lease term). Before a HAP Contract is executed, the following must be done: (These items are discussed in details at the Voucher Briefing).
Tenant submits to PCHA a completed Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) by the Voucher deadline date.
The RFTA and the unit are approved by PCHA Funding is available to support the assistance agreement.
Because funding is made available on a first-come first-served basis, Voucher recipients, are encouraged to submit your completed RFTA as soon as possible.