Section 8 Waitlist

City of Santa Monica

The City of Santa Monica’s Section 8 and Below Market Housing (BMH) waitlists will open online on May 1, 2020 at 8 a.m.

What Is Section 8?

  • Section 8, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, is a rental assistance program for low-income households. Eligible applicants may receive a voucher to pay for part of their rent.
  • The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) distributes Section 8 vouchers to local city housing authorities, like the Santa Monica Housing Authority, to distribute to eligible applicants. The Santa Monica Housing Authority (SMHA) is only issued a limited number of vouchers to give out and must follow HUD’s rules, including strict requirements, about who may be given a voucher.
  • In order to distribute those vouchers, SMHA has opened its waitlist every few years.

Am I Eligible?

According to HUD rules, local housing authorities may prioritize some applicants to reflect local housing needs and priorities. Everyone can apply for a voucher, but certain very low-income applicants will be given priority over others based on specific prioritization rules, listed below.

What does ‘very low-income’ mean? 

  • To be considered “very low-income,” your total annual income, before taxes, must not exceed the following amounts, by household size:
    • 1-person household should make less than $39,450
    • 2-person household: $45,050
    • 3-person household: $50,700
    • 4-person household: $56,300
    • 5-person household: $60,850
    • 6-person household: $65,350
    • 7-person household: $69,850
    • 8-person household: $74,350
  • To determine your household’s income, add up the gross income (your income before taxes) of everyone living under the same roof, plus any amount of money anyone in the household receives on a regular basis, like benefits, or regular financial assistance.

How is the Section 8 waitlist sorted?

We prioritize Section 8 applicants on the waitlist so those with the most need may receive help as soon as possible. In order to do this accurately, we have a system of priorities in place, known as ‘preferences’.

FIRST PRIORITY: Applicants in emergency situations who have lost, or are at risk of losing, their home in Santa Monica because of one of the following are prioritized first on the Section 8 waitlist:

Continuum of Care and supportive housing graduates also receive first priority, as do applicants who were terminated from the Section 8 program due to funding shortfalls.

SECOND PRIORITY: Next on the Santa Monica Section 8 waitlist, we prioritize very low-income residents and employees who meet the following requirements:

  • Rent-control, rent-burdened residents
    Santa Monica residents who live in a rent-controlled apartment and pay more than 40% of their income in rent
  • Santa Monica employees
    Families where the head of household works an average of 25 hours or more per week in Santa Monica (or did but lost employment on or after March 1, 2020, due to COVID-19-related reasons)
  • Employed residents
    Santa Monica residents who work a minimum of 25 hours per week outside of Santa Monica

THIRD PRIORITY: Next on the Santa Monica Section 8 waitlist, we prioritize very low-income residents and employees who meet the following requirements:

  • Are residents of Santa Monica and don’t meet the live or work criteria for the second priority


  • Following the above applicants, all very low-income applicants will be added to the waitlist. (This is why if you really need rental assistance quickly, your best chance of receiving a voucher is to apply to your local housing authority.)

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