Help With Your Rent

Federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Rental Assistance

The San Diego Housing Commission’s (SDHC) largest program provides federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance to more than 15,000 households with low incomes in the City of San Diego.

More than half of SDHC’s rental assistance households are seniors or individuals with disabilities.

Rental housing assistance is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Because funding is limited, there is a wait list to receive federal rental assistance through SDHC. The average wait time is approximately 10 years.

Who is eligible?

  • People who live or work in the City of San Diego
  • Individuals and families with annual income less than 80 percent of San Diego’s Area Median Income (AMI)
  • Veterans and active-duty military
  • Low-income seniors age 62 or older
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Homeless families and individuals

How does rental assistance work?

Households pay a predetermined portion of their income toward their rent.

SDHC pays the balance of the rent, up to the applicable payment standard, directly to the landlord.

The payment standard is the maximum subsidy payment that a voucher would pay for a rental housing unit.

If the contract rent is more than the payment standard, the household pays the difference.

SDHC’s Path to Success initiative modified the method SDHC uses to determine how much a household pays toward rent.

Where can a household that receives rental assistance through SDHC live?

A household can rent a housing unit from any landlord in the City of San Diego. In addition, SDHC’s Choice Communities Initiative provides rental assistance families with more flexibility to choose to live in neighborhoods that offer more opportunities for transportation, schools, and employment.

To find affordable rental housing units in the City of San Diego, you may:

City of San Diego Source-of-Income Protection Ordinance

On July 31, 2018, the San Diego City Council amended City law to add Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance as a protected source of income.

Landlords cannot decline a tenant based only on the household receiving rental assistance from any federal, state, local or nonprofit-administered benefit or subsidy program. However, landlords retain the right to screen and select tenants based on valid rental criteria.

This City law became enforceable on August 1, 2019.

SDHC contracted with Legal Aid Society of San Diego (LASSD) to conduct education and outreach about this ordinance.

SDHC Achievement Academy

The SDHC Achievement Academy provides opportunities for rental assistance families to become more financially self-reliant.

The SDHC Achievement Academy is a learning and resource center and computer lab with programs that emphasize career planning, job skills, and personal financial education.

These programs are offered at no cost to rental assistance families or public housing residents.

Apply for the SDHC Rental Assistance Wait List

To apply for the SDHC Rental Assistance Wait List, visit the SDHC Rental Assistance Wait List Portal.

This portal also enables existing applicants to update their information and check their wait list status.

Special Rental Assistance Programs

A portion of SDHC’s federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher resources fund several special programs that provide housing opportunities at specific developments and/or for low-income households with specific needs.

Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH)

SDHC partners with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide rental assistance to veterans who experience chronic homelessness. The VA San Diego Healthcare System provides clinical health and case management services to VASH participants.

Family Unification Program

The Family Unification Program provides rental housing vouchers to help families with children who are at risk of out-of-home placement or who have been separated from their families because of inadequate housing. The program is administered through a collaboration between SDHC and San Diego County child welfare agencies and is based on referrals.

Moderate Rehabilitation Program

Moderate Rehabilitation Program participants receive rental assistance to reside in a housing unit that is already part of the program. Participants do not locate their own housing unit. If the participant moves out of the unit that is part of the program, their Moderate Rehabilitation Program assistance ends.

Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities Program

The Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities (NED) Program provides rental assistance to income-eligible households in which the head of household, spouse or co-head of household is under age 62 and has one or more disabilities that make it difficult to secure accessible rental housing. NED vouchers enable qualified households to lease private housing of their choice.

Homelessness Programs

SDHC has committed more than 4,300 federal rental housing vouchers to address homelessness in the City of San Diego. These include the housing vouchers awarded as part of HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO, SDHC’s homelessness action plan.

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