About the Program
Program Waiting Lists
Special Programs
Applying for a Section 8 Voucher
Waiting List Information
Waiting List Preferences
Waiting List Status: Placement Date Being Reviewed
Waiting List Pre-Application Form
Reaching the Top of the Waiting List
Initial Application Process
Receiving The Voucher
Voucher Briefing
Briefing Packet
Using the Voucher
Special Needs
Program Fraud

About the Program

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, also known as “Section 8”, provides rental assistance to low income individuals or families.

There are two main Section 8 Voucher programs: one for Santa Cruz County and one for City of Hollister (which also includes the City of San Juan Bautista).

Once a family receives a voucher, the family finds its own rentals from homes and apartments on the private market. The family pays about a third of its income in rent to the landlord, and the Housing Authority pays the rest, up to a certain limit, directly to the landlord.

The family and landlord sign a rental agreement or lease provided by the landlord. The family pays the security deposit required by the landlord.

Housing Authority Program Waiting Lists
The following Waiting Lists are currently open:

Sunrise Senior Apartments

The site-based waiting list for Project Based Voucher rental assistance units at Sunrise Senior Apartments located at 580 Westside Blvd., in Hollister is currently open and accepting applications. Sunrise Senior Apartments owned and managed by Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association, Inc. (CHISPA) for occupancy by low income seniors with a head of household or spouse who is at least 62 years of age or older.

For more information about the Project Based Voucher Program, click here.

Pre-applications for the Sunrise Senior Apartments waiting list will be available beginning October 10, 2022. If you as the head of household or your spouse is age 62 or older, and you are interested in residing Sunrise Senior Apartments, complete a Sunrise Senior Apartments pre-application. Pre-applications for the waiting list will be available:

  • The CHISPA website: www.chispahousing.org
  • Housing Authority website: www.hacosantacruz.org
  • Sunrise Senior Apartments: 580 Westside Blvd. Hollister, CA 95023
  • Hollister Senior Center: 300 West St, Hollister, CA
  • CHISPA’s Main Office: 295 Main Street, Suite 100, Salinas, CA 93901
  • The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz: 2160 41st Ave., Capitola 95010 Phone: (831) 454-5950 Fax: {831) 469-3712 www.hacosantacruz.org email: [email protected]
  • For more information on the application process, call (831) 757-6254 or go to www.chispahousing.org

To be added to the Sunrise Senior Apartments waiting list, return a complete pre-application to the Housing Authority.  You can return the pre-application:

  • by mail to 2160 41st Ave., Capitola 95010
  • by FAX to (831) 469-3712
  • drop off in the Housing Authority lobby at 2160 41st Ave., Capitola 95010 during office hours, Monday – Thursday 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
  • drop off after hours using our exterior Drop Box located to the left of the Housing Authority entrance.
  • E-mail [email protected]

To find out more information about this property, you are encouraged to call:

  • CHISPA at (831) 757-6254 TDD: (831) 758-9481 for information on availability of units and eligibility criteria
  • The Housing Authority at 831-454-5950 for information on completing or submitting a pre-application for this waiting list

The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz provides equal opportunity to all applicants for participation in the Housing Authority’s Programs, and is an equal opportunity employer.  The Housing Authority does not discriminate based on race, ancestry, color, religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, age, citizenship, handicap or familial status. If you have any questions, please contact our Waiting List Information Line at 831-454-5950.

Resetar Project Based Voucher Waiting List

The Resetar Residential Hotel is an 89 unit supportive and affordable housing project in the heart of downtown Watsonville. There are a total of 52 Project Based units at Resetar, of which 5 units are set aside for formerly homeless veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program. There are 3 one-bedroom units and 49 studio apartment in the Project Based Voucher Program. Residents of Resetar Residential Hotel establish a service plan and receive case-management provided by Abode Services or other service providers.

In the Project Based Voucher program, assistance is associated with a unit, not the tenant. Therefore, applicants reaching the top of the Resetar waiting list will only be eligible to reside at Resetar Residential Hotel at 15 West Lake Avenue in downtown Watsonville.

El Centro Project Based Voucher Waiting List

In the Project Based Voucher program, assistance is associated with a unit, not the tenant. Therefore, applicants reaching the top of the El Centro waiting list will only be eligible to reside at El Centro Residential Apartments (1110 Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz). Only single person households age 60 or above are eligible for these units. El Centro has 45 single room occupancy (SRO) units with a bathroom, small refrigerator, microwave and sink. Each unit has access to a shared kitchen, separate men and women’s showers, and other amenities.

Click here for a flyer with more information about El Centro Residential Apartments.

The following Waiting Lists are currently closed:

Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program

The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz has closed the Waiting List for the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program for both the County of Santa Cruz and the Cities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista.

In the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program, participants are issued a voucher and rent with a landlord who agrees to participate in the Section 8 program. The Housing Authority pays a portion of the rent directly to the landlord. The participant pays the difference between the negotiated rent and the amount paid by the Housing Authority to the landlord. This amount can (and in many cases does) exceed 30% of the household’s adjusted income.

Pippin Orchards Apartments

Pippen Orchard Apartments has both project based voucher (PBV) units and non-project based units. In the PBV program, assistance is tied to the unit, not the household. Households must reside in Pippin Orchards Apartments for at least one year before being potentially eligible to transfer assistance. As not all the apartments will be project based, there will be separate waiting list for those units. Households may apply for both waiting lists.

Please contact MidPen with questions you have about Pippin Orchards Apartments: 831-707-2150.

The Pippin Orchard Apartments Wait List closed Tuesday, August 7th at 5 pm.

Servicios de interpretación estan disponibles. Por favor solicite ayuda en la oficina de Midpen.

Merrill Road Apartments

Merrill Road is an affordable housing development consisting of 15 units for very-low income households.

USDA Farmworker Housing

This program is designed to provide affordable housing to households who earn a substantial portion of their income as farm laborers and who either are citizens of the United States or reside in the United States after being legally admitted for permanent residence. The waiting list for this program closed on Friday, October 7, 2022. Applications received after 5:00 pm on October 7, 2022 will not be placed on the waitlist.

St. Stephens Project Based Voucher (PBV) Waiting List

The complex is developed and operated by MidPen Housing. Occupancy is designated for low income seniors at least 62 years of age. The complex has studio, one and two bedroom apartments. There are a total of 39 project based units at St. Stephens. Five units are designated for formerly homeless veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program, as referred by the Veterans Administration. Five units are designated for Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) eligible persons referred by Health Projects Center. This new site based waiting list is for the remaining 29 units.

Special Voucher Programs

Over time, HUD has awarded the Housing Authority with funding for specific voucher types to serve specific populations. In some instances, these special programs offer vouchers to eligible persons from the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) waiting list. In other instances, vouchers are issued based on referrals from services providers. All special voucher programs that are based on referrals from other agencies are listed and described below, along with information regarding how you can find out more information about accessing these programs.


Tenant-Based Rental Assistance for 4 households

The Housing Authority administers a Permanent Supportive Housing type program which combines rental assistance with supportive services for homeless young adults ages 18-24 who have disabilities.

Referrals for the YHDP program, called New Roots, come from the Encompass Community Service (see https://smartpathscc.org/homeless/ for more information about how to get an assessment) and are supported by Encompass Community Services case management and housing navigation.

For more information, contact Jace Freyman (831) 226-3523

Shelter Plus Care

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance for 40 households

The Housing Authority administers a shelter Plus Care program which combines rental assistance and supportive services for chronically homeless persons.

Referrals for Shelter Plus Care come from the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency/ Homeless Persons’ Health Project (HPHP).

For more information, contact HPHP at 454-2080

Nuevo Sol SROs

11 Units

The Housing Authority administers a Moderate Rehabilitation single room occupancy project for homeless individuals.

Referrals for Nuevo Sol come from the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency/ Homeless Persons’ Health Project (HPHP).

For more information, contact HPHP at 454-2080

Welfare to Work vouchers

24 Vouchers

The Welfare to Work vouchers are for persons participating in the CalWorks Welfare to Work Program. The vouchers are reserved for CalWorks participants. They are intended to be a key part of the strategy to support the efforts of Santa Cruz County families who are working towards self-sufficiency.

Referrals for Welfare to Work vouchers come from the Human Services Department.

For more information, contact Victoria Regan at (831) 454-4913

Family Unification Program – Youth (FUP-Y)

8 Vouchers

The Family Unification Youth vouchers are reserved for youth and young adults who are at least eighteen years of age but not yet twenty-five years of age, who left foster care, or will leave foster care within the next ninety days, and who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless at age sixteen or older. FUP Youth vouchers used are limited to 36 months of housing assistance.

Referrals for FUP-Y vouchers come from Encompass Community Services.

For more information, contact Meg Clark at (831) 226-3537

Family Unification Program (FUP)

115 Vouchers

The Family Unification Program vouchers are reserved for families for which lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in the imminent placement of their child or children in out-of-home care or in the delaying of discharge of a child or children to the
family from out-of-home care.
Referrals for FUP vouchers come from the Human Services Department.

For more information, contact Jessica Scheiner at (831) 454-4088

Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH)

347 Vouchers

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have partnered to create a program for homeless veterans that combines HUD Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs at its medical centers and in the community.

Referrals for vouchers VASH come from the VA.

For more Information, contact Shannon Healer, LCSW at (650) 269-5945

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The Section 8 program serves families with total household incomes up to 80% Area Medium Income (current Income Limits). For eligibility purposes, all persons in the household are considered part of the family regardless of relationship.

Specific eligibility requirements are established by the U.S. Congress and implemented by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Eligibility rules can change at any time, therefore a family’s eligibility is not established until close to the time a Section 8 voucher will be issued.

Once on the Section 8 program, program participants can have income above the income limits until a level of income is reached at which the Housing Authority is no longer paying subsidy on behalf of the family.

Who cannot receive rental assistance?

Federal housing programs do not assist undocumented aliens. Families with both undocumented members and members who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants can receive pro-rated rental assistance which is reduced proportionately by the number of undocumented members.

Registered sex offenders are also barred from receiving rental assistance. Other criminal background can also limit assistance.

Applying for a Section 8 Voucher

When the waiting list is open, families may put their names on the Waiting List by completing a pre-application (see below). As vouchers are given up by families leaving the program, the families on the waiting list are contacted to submit a full application.

Even if a family has a landlord who wants to participate in the voucher program, the family must wait its turn for a voucher by going on the waiting list like all other pre-applicants.

Waiting List Information

The Waiting List is a list of families that have completed a “pre-application” indicating that they are interested in participating in the program.

Applicants who were already on the waiting list prior to the October 2018 waiting list opening will continue to be contacted based on preferences and date of placement. New applicants who apply by 5pm on December 6, 2018 will be given a random “lottery” number. These applicants will be contacted based on preferences and lottery number.

Because there is more demand for assistance than there are vouchers available, there is usually a long wait for assistance, typically several  years. The Housing Authority cannot predict when names will reach the top of the waiting list. The speed at which the waiting list moves depends on how many families leave the program, and the level of funding the Housing Authority receives from HUD. It is impossible to predict when a voucher will be available.

If the family breaks up, the person designated as Head of Household on the pre-application will keep the place on the waiting list. Anyone not living with the Head of Household would need to apply on his or her own by submitting a new pre-application.

Waiting List Preferences

Unless otherwise stated, waiting list preferences apply to the Santa Cruz County Housing Choice Voucher Waiting List. All preferences adopted by the Housing Authority are based on local housing needs and priorities as determined by the Housing Authority.

    1. Live/Work Residency Preference
      The Housing Authority has established a partial live/work residency preference, such that at least 75% of the families selected from the waiting list will either currently live or work in the jurisdiction of the waiting list.
    2. Disabled and Medically Vulnerable Homeless Person (DMV)
      The Housing Authority has adopted a limited waiting list preference of up to 120 vouchers for disabled and medically vulnerable homeless persons. The Housing Matters provides referrals for person who are 1) disabled, 2) medically vulnerable, 3) homeless, and 4) have a case management plan with a provider of housing supportive services.
    3. Disabled Transitioning from Institutions (DTI)
      The Housing Authority has adopted a limited waiting list preference of up to 12 vouchers for disabled person transitioning from institutions into community-based settings, and persons at serious risks of institutionalization. Referrals for this preference are provided by the following agencies: Central Coast Center of Independent Living (CCCIL), Coastline Supportive Living, County Mental Health, Housing Choice Coalition, and San Andreas Regional Center (SARC).
    4. Temporary Measures during Periods of Low Utilization Rate
      During times of low voucher or funding utilization (under 97%), the Housing Authority may utilize the following measures:

      • A.) Lease In-Place Option. This preference will only be applicable to applicants already on the waiting list who currently live in the Housing Authority jurisdiction, reside in a unit that meets HQS standards, with a landlord who is willing to accept a voucher.
      • B.) Eviction Prevention. The Housing Authority may accept direct referrals from the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County (CAB) of families at imminent risk of homelessness due to eviction for economic reasons. The Eviction Prevention preference will be limited to applicants on the HCV waiting list, and the preference will be limited to 24 vouchers.
    5. Mainstream Vouchers for Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities
      The Housing Authority has received 50 Mainstream Non-Elderly Disabled (NED) vouchers. These Mainstream NED Vouchers are for the Housing Authority service area, both Santa Cruz County and the Cities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista. The Mainstream NED Vouchers differ from the original Mainstreams Vouchers in these ways:

        • The person with disabilities doesn’t have to be the head of household or spouse.
        • The person with disabilities does have to be between the ages of 18 and 62.

 Applicants on either the Santa Cruz County or Hollister/San Juan Bautista Section 8 waiting lists may benefit from this waiting list preference. Assistance will be offered to applicants eligible for the preference based on date of preference or lottery number. If the waiting lists do not contain a sufficient number of eligible households, the Housing Authority may open the lists for persons eligible for this preference. Eligible persons include those who are transitioning from institutions, at serious risk of institutionalization, homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Waiting List Status: Placement Date Being Reviewed

Note to developers: this section may be printed for use in funding applications requiring a statement from the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz regarding the number of families on the Waiting Lists.

Below is the status of the Section 8 Waiting Lists.

Santa Cruz County Waiting List
The waiting list currently is: Closed
There are 10,851 applicants on the waiting list.
The waiting list has a partial live/work residency preference for households in which the head of household, spouse or registered domestic partner lives or works, in the County of Santa Cruz.
Full applications are being taken for families on the 2018 waiting list with the following lottery numbers:
Resident applicants: Up to lottery number 2856
Nonresident applicants: Up to lottery number 667
(Updated on: November 18, 2022)

Hollister/ San Juan Bautista Waiting List
The waiting list currently is: Closed
There are 8,516 applicants on the waiting list.
The waiting list has a partial live/work residency preference for households in which the head of household, spouse or registered domestic partner lives or works, in the San Benito County.
Full applications are being taken for families on the 2018 waiting list with the following lottery numbers:
Resident applicants: Up to lottery number 2054
Nonresident applicants: Up to lottery number 83

(Updated on: July 28, 2022)

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Waiting List Status Form

All Waiting List applicants must notify the Housing Authority within 30 days of any change of address (see below); however, there is no need to inform the Housing Authority about changes in family composition while on the Waiting List. Please use the Waiting List Status form to notify the Housing Authority of any changes to your address while you are on the Waiting List.

IMPORTANT: If a family does not respond when the Housing Authority attempts to make contact at the last known address, the family’s name will be removed from the Waiting List. If the family moves while on the Waiting List, a Waiting List Status form must be submitted within 30 days of the move.

Waiting List Placement Date and Confirmation

Once a Pre-application is received and entered in the Waiting List, the family will receive a Waiting List Confirmation letter notifying the family of its lottery number and confirming that the family has been successfully added to the waiting list. Depending on the volume of applications, it can take up to several months for this confirmation to be sent. Note: if you are not sure if you are on the list and would like to know your status, please complete a Waiting List Status Form. You will be sent a computer-generated copy of the original letter providing confirmation that your Pre-Application was received and you have been added to the waiting list. The confirmation letter will not tell you how long you have to wait.

Reaching the Top of the Waiting List

When the family’s name reaches the top of the Waiting List, a letter is sent asking if the family wants an Initial Application packet. The family must respond to this letter by the due date or its name will be removed from the Waiting List.

Initial Applications are processed when the family submits all requested information and documents. The family can ensure its application is processed sooner by keeping all documents updated and in a safe place ready to be submitted when notified.

Initial Application process

The Initial Application is lengthy and asks for a lot of information. Applicants are encouraged to be as specific and detailed as possible. Program eligibility will be based on the information given by the applicant who will be asked to certify to its truthfulness (see Program Violations and Fraud). The sooner the family provides the Housing Authority with all requested information the sooner the application will be processed.

The Housing Authority will independently verify all information submitted and may be informed of information an applicant has not submitted. If later it is found that the family did not fully inform or comply with the application, the voucher could be terminated and the family could be required to pay the Housing Authority back for any assistance received that it was not entitled to. It is better to over-declare than under-declare information. Housing Authority staff will advise if information does not apply.

The initial application is used to:

  1. Gather information about the family and its income
  2. Determine whether or not the family is eligible for assistance
  3. Calculate approximately how much rent the family will pay
  4. Determine how many bedrooms the family is eligible for

Even after the Initial Application is processed, there can still be long wait before a voucher is available. In most cases, it takes an average of six months from the time you submit an Initial Application to the time you are issued a voucher. However, wait times may vary greatly depending on the rate at which current voucher holders leave the program. Please see the Initial Application Flowchart for a visual overview of the steps in the Initial Application Process with information about average length of time for each step in the process. Please note: federal regulations require that eligibility verifications be no older than 60 days at the time the Voucher is issued. If there are delays in obtaining verifications or in issuing the voucher, information may have to be resubmitted.

Important Reminder about the Initial Application

Note: Make sure the Housing Authority always has a current address for you. If you move, please submit a Waiting List Status form to the Housing Authority immediately. If we you cannot be reached you by mail, your application will be cancelled.

Respond to all Housing Authority deadlines promptly.

The Housing Authority will ask to see original Social Security cards, birth certificates, and photo IDs. Be sure to have these on hand to speed the Initial Application process

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Receiving the Voucher

Once reaching the top of the Waiting List and being declared eligible, there may still be a long wait. The family is responsible keeping the Housing Authority informed of any changes to its income or household composition even after income eligibility has already been established. Additionally, the family is responsible for any security deposit required by a future landlord and should be setting aside funds to pay the security deposit which usually is equal to at least one month’s total rent.

The family should not take steps to rent a unit anticipating receipt of the voucher; this could result in the family being responsible for the entire rent.

When a voucher becomes available, the family will be invited to a “briefing,” where the program rules are explained, and the voucher is issued. The family must agree to the rules and regulations regarding the voucher and receive more information about how the program works including specifics regarding the family’s subsidy amount and the maximum rent that can be paid. There are certain limitations regarding rentals that are covered at the briefing.

Voucher Briefing

A “Voucher Briefing” is required by the federal government before a family can receive its voucher. A briefing lasts about one and a half hours and children are not permitted. Briefings are held in groups of 20 to 40 people.

Families arriving late to the briefing will not be allowed to attend the briefing. The briefing is a pre-set presentation including information the Housing Authority is required by federal regulations to cover or a voucher cannot be issued. If the family is late through no fault of its own, the family will be notified of a future briefing date. If the family misses two briefings, the voucher will be canceled and the family’s name removed from the list.

After Housing Authority staff explains the program requirements and how the program works, time will be spent with families individually to discuss their particular Voucher size and rent subsidy.

Briefing Packet

At the briefing, a briefing packet containing required information and forms will be given to each family.

Using the Voucher

There is a limited amount of time to use a Voucher before it expires, commonly 60 days.

The federal government requires the Housing Authority to ensure that all vouchers are used quickly to assist the maximum number of families. If a family does not move expeditiously to use its voucher, there are thousands of other families on the Waiting List who will. The Housing Authority cannot allow vouchers to go unused; it is important that the family give full attention and effort to looking for a rental that will accept the voucher so that it does not expire.

Leasing in Place

The quickest way to ensure that a voucher is not lost is to “lease in place,” that is, renting from the current landlord if that landlord will accept the Section 8 voucher. Once on the program by using the voucher at its current rental, the family can then take its time to look for another rental without having the voucher expire.’

Finding a Rental

If the family cannot rent its current unit or must find somewhere to live, there are many ways to find a rental unit. These are covered in the voucher briefing.

Once a suitable rental and a willing landlord is found, the family gives the landlord a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) to complete. The RTA is given to the voucher holder at the briefing. Only one RTA is issued at a time. If the rental submitted on the current RTA is not approved, another RTA will be issued. The RTA asks the landlord for information the Housing Authority will need in order to review the rental to see if it meets the program requirements.

The Housing Authority staff will talk with the landlord and, once all is agreed to, an inspection will be scheduled. The rental must meet federal Housing Quality Standards (HQS). For more information, please see HQS Checklist.

The family cannot have a personal financial interest in the property or be a beneficiary; neither can the landlord cannot be a relative of the family except under certain limited conditions for persons with disabilities. The landlord cannot live in the rental unit with the family.

If a rental is not found within the time stated on the voucher, the family must request an extension in writing. It should not be assumed that an extension will be granted.

Special Needs

If you are a person with disabilities and you have special needs related to a Housing Authority program, please see the Special Needs Q&A and the Special Needs section of the Forms page.

Program Fraud

The federal government and the Housing Authority take action against those committing program frauds, whether they are Section 8 participants or landlords. The Housing Authority has established a Program Integrity unit specifically to investigate and take action against those who commit program violations. Please go to this web site’s section on Program Fraud for more information or report fraud.


For answers to more of your questions about searching for a place to rent, please see our Questions & Answers page.

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