Housing and Economic Development 
1901 Main Street, Suite C
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Section 8 Frequently Asked Questions

Please Note: The Santa Monica Housing Authority is NOT accepting applications for new Section 8 tenants at this time. Feel free to check this space periodically for further announcements.

The following topics provide additional information about Section 8 Rental Assistance

  1. What is Section 8?
  2. Who can qualify for the program?
  3. How much can a household earn and still be eligible?
  4. Are there preferences given based on urgent need?
  5. How are rent contributions determined?
  6. What determines the subsidy amount?
  7. What is the relationship between the City of Santa Monica Housing Authority and property owner?
  8. What type of housing is eligible?
  9. How can a household apply for the program?
  10. Special Programs  



  1. WHAT IS SECTION 8?Top

    The official name for the Section 8 Housing Program is the Housing Choice Voucher Program and it was established by the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act. It is the principal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program for assisting lower income persons to secure decent, safe, and sanitary housing. Assistance is provided to eligible households to be used towards renting privately owned housing within the City of Santa Monica. Program participants pay approximately 30% of their income towards rent and the Housing Authority pays the remainder.

  2. WHO CAN QUALIFY FOR THE PROGRAM?Top

    The program is designed to assist low income families consisting of two or more people and single individuals who are disabled or over 62.

  3. HOW MUCH CAN A HOUSEHOLD EARN AND STILL BE ELIGIBLE?Top

    Any household with an income less than 50% of the HUD determined median family income for the Los Angeles County area is potentially eligible to have their rent subsidized under the program. The income limits vary according to family size and are as follows:

    Family Size Annual Income
    1 Person $29,550
    2 Persons $33,750
    3 Persons $37,950
    4 Persons $42,150
    5 Persons $45,550
    6 Persons $48,900
    7 Persons $52,300
    8 Persons $55,650
    (These limits are adjusted annually)

  4. ARE THERE PREFERENCES GIVEN BASED ON URGENT NEED?Top

    The Section 8 Program is not an emergency housing program. However, if you have been displaced under the Ellis Act and are otherwise eligible for assistance, you will be placed at the top of our waiting list.

  5. HOW ARE THE RENT CONTRIBUTIONS DETERMINED?Top

    The household's share of the rent will be based on their income. The Housing Authority will subsidize a standard amount based on income and family size, and the household will pay the difference. The income of all participants will be verified annually.

  6. WHAT DETERMINES THE SUBSIDY AMOUNT?Top

    HUD annually sets maximum rents [i.e. Payment Standard] on the Voucher Program for different unit sizes in each housing market area. The rent must meet a rent reasonableness test for the area and unit size. For the Voucher Program, the Payment Standard is determined by the Housing Authority. The tenant negotiates the rent with the owner annually based on local rent standards. The current maximum rents are:

    Unit Size Current Maximum Rent
    0 Bedrooms $1,009
    1 Bedroom $1,352
    2 Bedrooms $1,843
    3 Bedrooms $2,411
    4 Bedrooms $2,411

  7. WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA HOUSING AUTHORITY AND A PROPERTY OWNER?Top

    The City of Santa Monica Housing Authority executes a Housing Assistance Payments Contract with the owner after approval of the lease and determining, by inspection, that the unit complies with housing quality standards. Other terms and conditions of the program are specified in the contract.

    The owner is responsible for tenant selection and rent collection. The Housing Authority administers the program and determines tenant eligibility, issues Certificates of Participation and Vouchers, approves leases, and verifies the units suitability.

  8. WHAT TYPE OF HOUSING IS ELIGIBLE?Top

    Any existing rental housing in the incorporated areas of Santa Monica may be eligible for the program (single family houses, townhouses or apartments) provided that the units conform to housing quality standards. Owner occupied units are not eligible.

  9. HOW CAN A HOUSEHOLD APPLY FOR THE PROGRAM?Top

    Please note that the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Monica – Section 8 program is closed and not accepting applications. Our waiting list was open: August 15 & 16, 2011. Due to proposed, on-going federal budget cuts to discretionary program like Section 8, we do not anticipate opening our waiting list again in the foreseeable future. However existing tenants can and do move from one unit to another so that the program is not static in nature.

    Additionally neither the current Administration nor Congress is anticipated to add vouchers to the Section 8 programs in the foreseeable future. You may contact our office periodically to check the status of this application process.

  10. SPECIAL PROGRAMS

    The Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS) is a HUD mandated, voluntary program designed to assist Section 8 participants in achieving economic independence from government assistance and a living wage within five years. The FSS program offers education, job training and employment, child care, transportation assistance and other services for all members of participating Section 8 families. FSS participants develop an Action Plan with St. Joseph Center staff "service coordinators" to achieve specific goals and objectives leading to self sufficiency. SMHA offers a financial incentive to save money for FSS participants who increase their earned income and successfully complete the program by contributing to an Escrow/Savings Account in the participant's name for any increase in wages earned.

    The Shelter Plus Care Program, a demonstration project funded by HUD (McKinney Homeless Assistance Act) and the City of Santa Monica, began in 1994 as a partnership between the Housing Authority and local homeless service agencies. Shelter Plus Care was developed to link housing with supportive services for homeless persons with disabilities (eg. Mental illness, substance abuse, AIDS). Shelter Plus care provides Section 8 rental assistance and supportive services to 130 program participants. The City contracts with Ocean Park Community Center, Step Up on Second and St. Joseph Center to provide case management, housing assistance and coordination of other necessary community services. There is currently a waiting list for this program.

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1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-8411 · TTY (310) 917-6626