Completing the Pre-application Online (English and Spanish)

application checker button applicant portal button

Applying For Housing Assistance

Currently the Section 8 waiting list is closed.  When the list re-opens, this website will be the only site with accurate information about how to apply.  Any other website that claims to accept pre-applications or monies on behalf of the Housing Authority of the City of Austin is a fraudulent website. There is never a charge to apply for any program operated by the Housing Authority of the City of Austin. More information on fradulent websites.

Section 8 Waiting List Opening

At 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2014 the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) closed the Section 8 waiting list. The waiting list had been open for eight days, during which HACA received almost 20,000 pre-applications.  A random lottery was conducted to select 2,500 applicants for the waiting list.

To find out if your pre-application was selected in the lottery, go to our Application Checker.

Stay up to date on HACA’s Waiting List Opening by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.


For every person that will be living in your Section 8 assisted household, you will need their name, date of birth and Social Security number.

You will need your current mailing address.

You will need information about the total annual household income. Income includes wages, unemployment benefits, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), retirement and pension payments, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), etc. Any money or resource that is coming into the household from an outside source is income.

For families that do not have Internet access at home and have difficulty getting to a location with internet access due to accessibility or mobility issues, additional assistance is available by calling 1-888-262-3949.

Starting August 15, 2014, this number will contain a recorded message providing information about how to apply. Beginning October 22, 2014 and for all 8 days of the Waiting List opening, live operators will answer the phone at this number between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm (Central Time). During all other hours a recorded message will play.

This website and the recorded message will have all the information that is available at those times. Asking to speak to a live operator will not provide any additional information. During the 8 days of the Waiting List opening, the live operators will be able to assist with directing families to the nearest location to apply, or in cases of need to complete the application over the phone.

Random Lottery Process

Due to an ever-growing need for affordable housing assistance, HACA received more pre-applications for Housing Choice Vouchers than can be placed on the Waiting List.  Limited federal funding for vouchers restricts how many families can be served. As a result, HACA will use a random lottery process to select the families that will be placed on the Waiting List.

How Will The Lottery Work?

HACA received 19,175 pre-applications submitted online between Oct. 22 – 29. After the Waiting List closed at 11:59 pm on Oct. 29, HACA began the process of reviewing all submitted pre-applications. All duplicate and incomplete pre-applications were removed. Each household only had one pre-application in the lottery.

It did not matter on which open day you applied (the first, the last or any day in between). It did not matter from what location you applied or what device you used to apply. Every complete, unduplicated pre-application that was submitted had an equal chance in the lottery.

Each complete, unduplicated pre-application was randomly assigned a number. The pre-applications that have been randomly assigned numbers one through 2,500 moved forward to the next step in the process.

These 2,500 pre-applications were reviewed to determine if they met the preliminary eligibility requirements. If they did, they were be placed on the Waiting List. If they did not, the family will receive a letter with the reason they are not eligible and explaining their right to appeal that decision.

After placing the eligible pre-applications onto the Waiting List in the order of one through 2,500, HACA applied the preferences claimed by these families. This determined the order of families on the Waiting List.

How Do I Find Out If I Was Chosen In The Lottery?

The random Section 8 lottery has been completed.  You can find out if your application was selected for the Waiting List by going to our Application Checker

You will need the following information to check if you were selected for the Waiting List:
1. Either your Social Security Number or the confirmation number you received after submitting your pre-application 
2. Your date of birth.

You must enter this information exactly as it is on your pre-application.

Some versions of Android cell phones have had difficulty with using the Application Checker.  If you are having difficulty, please try using a desktop computer.  If you are still having difficulty, please contact us and we will assist you.

When you enter this information into the Application Checker, you will receive a message notifying you if you have been selected. If you are not selected, please visit our resources page to learn about other housing options.

If you are selected, you will be directed to the Applicant Portal where you can set up your account. In the Applicant Portal, you can check your number on the Waiting List (after Dec. 13), update your current mailing address and other contact information, as well as report any changes in household members (adding or deleting).

It is important that you keep all your information current through the Applicant Portal.  When your name comes to the top of the list, we will be contacting you by mail to invite you to the eligibility interview.


Eligibility and Program Rules

A full explanation of all the eligibility requirements and program rules can be found in HACA’s HCV Administrative Plan.  A summary of those requirements are listed below.

Do I Need An Email Address To Apply Online?

No. You do not need an email address to complete an application. However, families are strongly encouraged to have an email address and to list it on your application. The benefits to providing an email address include:

1. If you are selected in the lottery and placed on the waiting list, you will need an email address to access the Applicant Portal.
2. If you provide an email address, HACA can send out reminders about what you will need for your eligibility interview, how to keep your application current and services available in the community.

An email address does not have to cost anything. Below are links to 3 different options for free emails. You are not required to use one of these three. Any valid email address is fine. However, these are offered as options that are free to you:

1. Gmail
2. Yahoo
3. Microsoft

Am I Eligible To Apply?

To be eligible to apply, you must be an adult or a legally emancipated minor, and you must not be currently receiving assistance through the Section 8 program. Please note that if you owe a debt to HACA, you can still apply. However, that debt must be paid in full before you can be eligible to receive Section 8 assistance.

If you are unsure, apply. HACA will review all pre-applications to determine if they are eligible.

Remember: You can only apply once! All duplicate pre- applications will be deleted and will not be entered into the lottery!

Am I Eligible For Housing Assistance??

Eligibility will not be determined at the time you apply. Rather, if you are selected in the lottery and are placed onto the Waiting List, eligibility will be determined when your name gets to the top of the list. At that time, HACA will review the following eligibility categories to determine if you qualify.

    1. Does the makeup of the family meet the definition of family used by HACA?
    2. Is the total gross household income below the income limits for the program at that time?
    3. Does the family meet the criteria regarding citizenship or eligible immigration status?
    4. Has the family disclosed all Social Security numbers and signed all required consent forms?
    5. Have all adult household members passed the criminal background check?
    6. Are any adult household members on any registered sex offender list?
    7. Does the family owe a debt to HACA or any other federally assisted housing program?
    8. Has the family been evicted from federally assisted housing within the past 5 years (from the date the family’s eligibility determination is made, not the date of application)?
For an explanationan of each of these eligibility categories, please read the HCV Eligibility Information .

What Are The Income Limits?

Maximum Household Income for each Family Size

1 Person Family

2 Person Family

3 Person Family

4 Person Family

5 Person Family

6 Person Family

7 Person Family

8 Person Family









What Are Preferences?

Once families are placed onto the Waiting List in the order of the random lottery, preferences are applied. A preference moves the family ahead of all other families that do not have a preference. All families with preferences are put in order by their lottery number first. After families with preferences, all families without preferences are listed in order by their lottery number.

For the HCV program, HACA has the following preferences:

    1. Elderly Preference. If the head of household, co-head or spouse are age 62 or older, the family qualifies for this preference.
    2. Disabled Preference. If the head of household, co-head or spouse is disabled, according to the HUD definition of disability, the family qualifies for this preference.
    3. Families With Minor Children. If the family has minor children in the household, the family qualifies for this preference.
    4. Involuntarily Displaced. If the family has been involuntarily displaced by natural disaster or government action within the past 6 months, the family qualifies for this preference.
    5. Homeless. If the family meets the HUD definition of Homeless and has a referral from a homeless service provider, the family qualifies for this preference.
    6. Residency. If the family lives within the five county Central Texas area (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell), the family qualifies for this preference.

On the application, the family will have the option to claim any of these preferences that apply. If a family claims a preference, but is later unable to provide proof of the preference claim, the preference will be removed and the family will be placed back onto the Waiting List. Preferences will be verified at the time the family is invited for an interview.

If the family qualifies for a preference after submitting the pre-application, they can claim the preference at any time by logging in to the Applicant Portal. See “How Do I Update My Information” below.

How Do I Update My Information?

Families that are on the Waiting List are required to keep all their information current. To do this, families must create an account in the online Applicant Portal. In the Applicant Portal, families can do the following:

  • Check what number they are on the Waiting List;
  • Change their mailing address;
  • Update their email address and phone numbers;
  • Provide information about changes in income; and
  • Make changes to family members to be included on the application (adding or deleting).
  • The Applicant Portal is the primary way for families to communicate with HACA regarding their application while on the Waiting List.

    It is extremely important for families to keep their information current. When the family name comes to the top of the Waiting List, HACA will send a letter inviting the family to an eligibility interview. HACA will use the address listed on file. Failure to keep a current mailing address could result in missing the opportunity to receive housing assistance.

    What Will I Need To Bring To My Eligibility Interview?

    When your name comes to the top of the Waiting List, you will be invited to an eligibility interview. You will need to bring the following documents to that appointment:

  • Birth Certificates for all family members.
  • Social Security cards for all family members.
  • Photo ID for all family members age 16 and older.
  • DPS Criminal Background report (dated within 60 days of the appointment date) for all family members age 17 and older.
  • Proof of eligible immigration status or citizenship status for all family members not born in the United States.
  • Proof of all forms of income. Examples include but are not limited to: Employment check stubs, Social Security or SSI Award letters, Pension award letters, TANF award letters, etc.

  • You will not need to provide any of this information until you are invited to the Eligibility Interview.