Can I Receive Section 8 Assistance With a Prior Eviction or Criminal Record?

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, Section 8 housing assistance can be a lifesaver. However, eligibility requirements can be strict, and factors such as prior evictions and criminal records can impact your chances of receiving assistance. While a history of eviction or criminal activity doesn’t automatically disqualify you from receiving Section 8 assistance, it can make the process more difficult. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how these qualifications could affect your eligibility and what you can do to increase your chances of receiving Section 8 assistance.

Can I Receive Section 8 Assistance With a Prior Eviction or Criminal Record


Importance of Section 8 Assistance for Low-Income Families

Section 8 housing assistance can be a lifesaver for many low-income families, helping them to secure safe, adequate, and affordable housing. This assistance is provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and helps to bridge the gap between rising housing costs and limited incomes by providing monthly subsidies that bring down the cost of rent and utilities.

The assistance also provides additional financial benefits such as coverage for apartment deposits, relocation fees for families relocating due to family size or other common changes, and more. All options help these families build their futures more securely.

Furthermore, Section 8 housing assistance programs are based on individual income – so those in need receive exactly what’s needed – no more, no less. For many low-income families, unsheltered homelessness is a real concern; Section 8 assistance helps give these individuals a much-needed boost toward achieving greater overall financial security.


Common Reasons for Denial of Section 8 Assistance

Living in affordable housing is a challenge for many Americans. While Section 8 Housing Assistance provides financial assistance to eligible low-income families, not everyone who applies qualifies for approval.

  1. Incomplete or inaccurate applications
  2. Insufficient income to qualify for assistance
  3. Disqualifying criminal records or prior evictions
  4. Unsatisfactory rental history, such as late payments or habitually trashing the property
  5. Not meeting requirements such as age, citizenship status, and other criteria
  6. Mistakes or omissions on the application, such as failing to disclose all household members
  7. Prior misuse of Section 8 assistance
  8. Unsatisfactory credit history or a large debt-to-income ratio
  9. Failing to comply with other HUD regulations or local housing authority policies
  10. Not completing required interviews or housing inspections
  11. Not communicating with the local public housing authority (PHA) throughout the process
  12. Exceeding income limits to qualify for Section 8 assistance
  13. Providing false information on application documents
  14. Having an unsatisfactory record with a prior landlord or housing authority
  15. Not attending required meetings or orientation sessions
  16. Having a prior record of drug-related criminal activity or other criminal records
  17. Not providing requested documents or medical certification, when applicable
  18. Unsatisfactory tenant screening reports from previous landlords.

Importance of Section 8 Assistance for Low-Income Families


Section 8 Eligibility Requirements

Income limits

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federally funded, rent subsidy program available to low-income families in the United States. In order to be eligible for and receive assistance from this program, applicants must meet certain income limits that are dependent on the location and size of their family.

Generally, for a household of one or two persons, the maximum income cannot exceed $30,760 annually. For a household of three or more persons, the maximum income cannot surpass $37,620 annually. These amounts can vary depending on what public housing agency governs the applicant’s area and it is advised that an individual look into these requirements again with their local agency.

Regardless of these variable changes in eligibility requirements by location, applicants will still have to fulfill all other protocols before they are granted assistance from this federal program.


Background checks

Background checks are an important part of the Section 8 eligibility requirements. Landlords must ensure that all prospective tenants pass a background check with satisfactory results before they can be approved for Section 8 housing. The guidelines for the background check vary by state, but most states require applicants to show that they have no convictions involving drugs or weapons and have not been evicted or had any rent payments withheld in the last 3 years.

Additionally, many state laws now prohibit landlords from using a person’s criminal record as grounds for refusing to provide housing to that individual if more than 5 years have elapsed since their conviction date, so it is important for landlords to stay up to date on the applicable laws in their state.


Eviction history

In order to qualify for Section 8 eligibility requirements, applicants must provide their eviction history. It’s important, to be honest throughout the application process as inaccurate or incomplete information may lead to disqualification. On the application, you must include times when you were evicted, whether or not the original lease agreement was fulfilled and any balance owed.

Evictions that occurred within the past three years are especially scrutinized, leading to a denied Section 8 qualification. Additionally, if an applicant has multiple evictions on record, applications may be rejected in favor of other applicants depending on the circumstances.

For those with negative marks on their rental history, it’s important to remain forthcoming and honest as successful applications will depend entirely upon the full disclosure of information.


Criminal record

Applying for housing assistance through Section 8 is a tricky process with many different eligibility requirements. One of the most important requirements is the criminal record check. All applicants must have no violent felonies on their records or any past charges related to drug manufacturing or distribution, arson, or crimes against children.

Those with negative marks on their record will not be eligible for Section 8 and should consider other rental help options. It’s also important to note that if an applicant has only been convicted of one minor felony but still has an active arrest warrant, they won’t be considered eligible either.

The best way to ensure eligibility for Section 8 is to make sure all past issues are cleared before applying for rental assistance.

Section 8 Eligibility Requirements


Can You Receive Section 8 Assistance with a Prior Eviction?

Section 8 assistance is a great resource for individuals who struggle to pay their rent. Unfortunately, having a prior eviction can make it harder to receive Section 8 assistance. In general, anyone with eviction within the last three years will be disqualified from receiving Section 8 benefits.

Potential beneficiaries may be able to get around this requirement if they are able to explain why the eviction occurred and prove that the situation has been corrected. This can include things like providing documentation showing that rent and any associated fees have been paid, and more.

Ultimately, applicants for Section 8 should be prepared to explain their eviction story thoroughly and provide proof of resolution if granted the opportunity.

Can You Receive Section 8 Assistance with a Prior Eviction?


Can You Receive Section 8 Assistance with a Criminal Record?

Securing Section 8 assistance for housing can be difficult for anyone, but especially for those who have criminal records. This is because most public housing authorities require applicants to pass a background and credit check before assistance can be granted. However, this doesn’t mean those with criminal records are automatically disqualified from accessing publicly-funded housing assistance in all cases.

While some criminal convictions prevent applicants from meeting the screening criteria of most public housing authorities, others may still qualify – as past convictions are evaluated on an individualized basis depending on factors such as the type of crime committed and when it was committed.

Many public housing authorities also recognize that prior convictions don’t necessarily reflect any current behavior, and so offer a variety of support services that help ex-offenders successfully transition back into society while they look for affordable accommodations.

Can You Receive Section 8 Assistance with a Criminal Record?


Types of Criminal Offenses That May Disqualify an Applicant From Receiving Section 8 Assistance

Section 8 housing subsidies provide an invaluable opportunity for disadvantaged individuals to have access to safe and affordable housing. However, certain criminal offenses can result in a potential applicant being disqualified from receiving this assistance.

Such knowledge serves as an important resource for anyone considering applying for this housing assistance to ensure that they are aware of what criteria could result in their potential application being turned down.

  1. Violent felonies
  2. Drug manufacturing or distribution charges
  3. Arson offenses
  4. Crimes against children
  5. Fraudulent activities or money laundering
  6. Weapons possession charges
  7. Any active arrest warrants
  8. Extortion or blackmail charges
  9. Burglary or theft of property
  10. Sex offenses, including rape and sexual assault
  11. Kidnapping
  12. Indecent exposure or public lewdness offenses
  13. Robbery
  14. Street gang activity-related charges
  15. Terroristic threats or hate crimes
  16. Assault or battery crimes
  17. Aggravated assault or homicide charges
  18. Receiving stolen property
  19. Conspiracy allegations to commit any of the above offenses.

Types of Criminal Offenses That May Disqualify an Applicant From Receiving Section 8 Assistance


Exceptions to the Criminal Record Policy

Section 8 assistance is an important program for people who need help receiving housing, however, applicants may have their application denied due to a criminal record. In some cases, exceptions can be made and applicants may still receive assistance even if they have a criminal record.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development provides exemptions to the general policy depending on the severity and type of offense committed. If an applicant’s offense was nonviolent, was committed before they were 18 years old, or if enough time has passed since the incident, they may qualify for Section 8 assistance regardless of their prior convictions.

Additionally, HUD allows exceptions based on each individual applicant’s unique circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

Exceptions to the Criminal Record Policy


How to Increase Your Chances of Receiving Section 8 Assistance

Securing Section 8 assistance can be a difficult process, but with the right preparation and knowledge, you can increase your chances of being approved for financial help.

How to Increase Your Chances of Receiving Section 8 Assistance
How to Increase Your Chances of Receiving Section 8 Assistance


This section covers steps you can take to gain a better understanding of the Section 8 application process as well as strategies for improving your household’s chances of being accepted.

1. Stay Organized: The Section 8 application process can be confusing and time-consuming, so it is important to stay organized and keep track of all the required documents you will need to apply for assistance.

2. Apply Early: Most housing authorities have limited resources, so it is important to apply as early as possible for the best chance of being accepted.

3. Know Your Rights: It is important to know your rights and responsibilities when applying for Section 8 assistance as they can vary by state.

4. Meet Deadlines: All deadlines must be met or the application could be denied, so make sure to stay on top of all requirements and submit them in a timely manner.

5. Get Professional Help: If necessary, seek assistance from a HUD-approved housing counseling agency to ensure all steps are taken correctly.

6. Provide Accurate Information: All information provided must be accurate, as any false or incomplete information could result in disqualification.

7. Follow Up Regularly: Keep in contact with the housing authority to ensure your application is being processed and all paperwork is received.

8. Review Your Eligibility: Make sure you meet all requirements for Section 8 assistance before submitting your application.

9. Consider Private Housing Assistance Programs: If you are ineligible for public housing, explore other options such as rent-restricted private housing.

10. Look Into Your Local Programs: Check with your local housing authority to see what additional programs are available in your area.

How to Increase Your Chances of Receiving Section 8 Assistance (2)



Section 8 assistance provides an invaluable opportunity for those who struggle to pay their rent. In order to be eligible for assistance, applicants must meet certain requirements, including income limits, passing a background and criminal record check, demonstrating a satisfactory rental history, and more.

While having a prior eviction or criminal record may make it harder to receive assistance from the Section 8 program, it is not impossible. Potential beneficiaries may still be able to get around this requirement if they are able to explain why the eviction occurred and prove that the situation has been corrected.

Table of Contents