On the day your intellectually disabled child turns 18, give yourself a birthday present – put him or her on the Section 8 waiting list. The Section 8 housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. In the Boston area, it usually takes eight to ten years to get a voucher, starting from the day you first submit the pre-application.
Once a person obtains a voucher, the federal government will pay part of his or her rent for life. So the sooner your child is on the list, the better.
Submitting the pre-application is so easy and can be done online through the Massachusetts Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program Centralized Waiting List which you can reach by clicking here. (Sign your child’s name, not your name, on the application.) Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies, which receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program, but 98 Massachusetts housing authorities use this one computerized list. All applicant information entered onto this list can be accessed and updated by any and all participating housing authorities.
People who have vouchers pay 30% of their income toward rent, and HUD pays the rest, with some limitations—for a one bedroom in Boston, the rent varies by neighborhood with the maximum set at $2,875 a month in 2020. You can check the maximum for each community or Boston neighborhood here. (It can be hard to find an apartment that fits within these restrictions in many communities.) The voucher owner is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects. In fact, once you get a voucher, you can use it anywhere in the U.S. – not just in the town where you received the voucher. You can move to California if you want, and it still works.
With the centralized system, any town that has a voucher available could theoretically give it to your child. However, in practice, only the towns where the child either lives or works will actually provide the voucher. For this reason, it is important to keep the Section 8 list informed if your child moves towns or changes the town in which he or she works. The initial date of the pre-application will still apply. So apply today!