How to apply for a Housing Choice Voucher

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The Seattle Housing Authority Housing Choice Voucher program (formerly known as Section 8) provides rental assistance for people with low incomes to rent from landlords throughout the Seattle rental market.

How it works 

The opportunity to apply for a chance to receive a voucher is ongoing. Families and individuals may apply at any time. Applicants will be randomly selected from the voucher list whenever vouchers are available. The number of applicants selected in each drawing will vary, depending on the number of vouchers available. The chance of being drawn is the same no matter when households apply. Random selection ensures that all applicants have an equal chance of being drawn at any time. SHA will review eligibility and verify income at the time applicants are selected from the list. Applicants who meet the voucher program eligibility requirements and the program preferences will be served.

Steps to apply 

step 1  Read about Housing Choice Vouchers 

Participants in the program receive a housing subsidy in the form of a voucher that they can use to rent a unit from landlords throughout the Seattle rental market. Households pay the portion of rent and utilities not covered by the voucher—typically 30 to 40 percent of monthly income. Learn more about renting with a voucher

step 2  Understand eligibility 

Application is open to adults 18 years or older or emancipated minors, no matter where they currently live, however applicants selected for a voucher will be required to use the voucher within the city of Seattle for a minimum of one year.  

Income level requirements and program preferences 

  • Applicants with a total household income of 30 percent or less of Area Median Income at the time of selection or for the 12 months prior to selection and applicants who are homeless at the time of selection or have been in the prior 12 months will receive preference. AMI 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.
  • Applicants with a total household income of 31 through 50 percent of Area Median Income and have not been homeless in the past 12 months will be returned to the list until all eligible applicants who meet the preferences have been served.
  • Applicants with a total household income above 50 percent of Area Median Income are not eligible for a voucher and will be removed from the list.   

In addition to income requirements, applicants must meet other eligibility criteria. Read more about eligibility

step 3  Submit your application 

Applicants must register for an SHA Portal user account on SHA’s website to log in and apply. If you have all the required information ready, registering  for the SHA Portal and completing your application to the voucher list should take no more than 30 minutes. Before you begin, make sure you have: 

  • An active email address to establish your SHA Portal user account
  • A valid phone number  
  • The Social Security numbers and date of birth for each member of the household  
  • Total annual income of the household
  • A mailing address where you can receive mail so that we can contact you 

Applicants who are missing this information or have questions, should call SHA’s Housing Choice Voucher program at 206.239.1674. 

Go to the SHA Portal and follow the instructions to register a user account and log in as an applicant. After you complete registration for the SHA Portal you will be able to complete your application.

Please note: If you have already registered for the SHA Portal and wish to apply for a voucher, log in and follow the prompts to complete and submit your application.

We’re here to help 

Applicants who need assistance applying online, want a paper application, want to apply in person, need accommodation for a disability, or need translation or an interpreter can contact SHA’s Housing Choice Voucher staff at 206.239.1674 or by email at 

SHA Housing Counselors will be hosting information sessions about the Housing Choice Voucher program at various locations in the Seattle area:

Burien Library

Resources Day

  • 2nd Tuesday of the month- 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. No July, No August – will resume in September.

Renton Library

Resource Day

  • 3rd Friday of the month- 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Resource Connection Day at Recovery Café SODO  

  • 3rd Friday of the month, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Skyway Resource Center 

  • Friday,  May 17, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Friday, June 14, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Friday, July 19, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

More dates to be added


What’s next?   

Once you have applied for a chance to receive a voucher, it is very important to keep your information current.  

Use the SHA Portal to

  • Update your contact information 
  • Report changes to contact information, income or household size 
  • Inform us if anyone in your household becomes disabled 

These changes may impact the type of assistance you qualify for.  

To remain on the list, you must also check in once every month using Save My Spot, which lets SHA know that you still need a voucher. If you do not do this or we are unable to contact you, we will remove you from the list. 

Other resources for housing 

Since the wait for a voucher is uncertain, it is  advisable to seek other option for housing assistance if you are in need. Visit our Housing page to learn about other SHA housing opportunities and how to apply, or non-SHA housing to learn about other resources. Go to the 2-1-1 Washington Information Network website for help with shelter, housing and other services.