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How Do I Apply for Section 8 Housing in San Mateo County?

Paula Bennett • Apr 26, 2021

General information on How Do I Apply for Section 8 Housing in San Mateo County?

You must fill out an application. Frequently, you will be required to fill out a pre-application. To obtain an application, please visit:

In person (possibly closed or limited hours due to COVID)

Housing Authority of the County of San Mateo (HACSM)
264 Harbor Boulevard, Building A
BelmontSan Mateo CountyCalifornia 94002


Housing Authority of the County of San Mateo Website:

Housing Authority of the County of San Mateo Phone: (650) 802-3300

Email address:

Please also look for their frequently asked questions or FAQ on the website for more information about federal government programs. The FAQs will answer your questions about low-income housing, public housing, rental housing, and the moving-to-work program and other federal government programs that help.

Or Call: (650) 802-3300 

There will probably be a high volume of calls and modified office hours in most areas, so it may take a long time to get a response.

Applications may be submitted online or possibly in person. You can also pick up a paper version at the San Mateo County (SMC) Department of Housing office in Belmont, address below:

264 Harbor Blvd, Building A · Belmont, CA 94002

Cities included in San Mateo County include the city of Redwood City, Daly City, Palo Alto, Belmont, Burlingame, South San Francisco, and many other cities.

There will be a waiting list. Why are there waiting lists?

San Mateo County does not have enough one-, two- or three-bedroom apartments for low-income families and people with special needs. There are many applicants for a limited number of rental apartments. 

You can expect to be on a waiting list for as long as two years. Often, the waiting lists are “closed” because there are too many people on the list.

How Do I Get into An Emergency Shelter?

As part of the San Mateo County urban development and community development programs, there are emergency shelters in San Mateo County.

Please contact one of the service agencies of San Mateo County that are listed on the Housing Resources Guide available in the Department of Housing office in Belmont, or the Department of Housing website (, under “Community Partners.” 264 Harbor Blvd, Building A · Belmont, CA 94002 · (650) 802-3300


Step 1: Obtain the application.

As discussed above, applications are generally available online, by mail, or at the San Mateo County housing office. It is possible that applications are only being accepted online now, so check the website.

If, however, you are a disabled person, and you cannot complete the application online or on paper, you can have another person, a relative, or a social worker complete the application on your behalf.

Hopefully, if you do not have online access to the Internet, a friend or relative will let you use their computer or go to the local library. It is also possible that the online application may require you to create a free account which requires you to have a valid email address. If you do not have an email address, you can request a free email address through Google.

Step 2: Complete the application.

The first application is usually a preliminary application where you will be required to provide your first and last name, date of birth, Social Security number or alien ID, and everyone’s gross income that lives with you, including your children. You may also be required to provide your address, phone number, gender, disability status, race, housing, and criminal history.

Step 3: Apply.

The application must be submitted as per the San Mateo County Housing Authority instructions, or it will be disqualified.

Once my application has been accepted, how do I check my waiting list status?

You can check your waiting list status online at

You can check your waiting list status by phone by calling (650) 802-3300.

What are the Basic Requirements of Section 8?

Section 8 housing voucher applicants must be at least 18 years old and a United States citizen or a noncitizen who has eligible immigration status. 

Single persons are also eligible as well as households or “families” without children. You are not required to have children to qualify as a household or family, as discussed above. You can apply in any county to live in any other location throughout the US, although check local housing authority rules as applications may be limited to “residents.”

Income Eligibility

Your household must make less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for the area where the voucher will be used (this is known as the income limit). That is determined by looking at your gross income and then subtract taxes and other expenses.

Restrictions and Preferences

More information about restrictions and preferences will be found on the San Mateo County Housing Authority website.


Many waiting lists have preferences. In other words, if you are a person with disabilities or over the age of 55, you may receive a priority and will receive housing assistance before others on the waiting list. You can still apply even if you do not qualify for preference.


The waiting list may be open only to specific individuals, such as the homeless or disabled. You will be notified if this is the situation.

You may be disqualified if:

You may be disqualified from receiving a housing voucher if you have been evicted from HUD housing in the past, had your voucher or assistance terminated, or if you owe money to a housing authority.

If you have a criminal record, you will not be automatically disqualified, but it may be more difficult to obtain housing. If you were never convicted of the crime, you would have a better chance than a person who has a criminal conviction on the record. If you are a convicted felon, especially if the crime of violence or drug-related, it will be more difficult. Similarly, people with a history of drug use, alcohol issues, and other criminal activity may have difficulty qualifying for assistance.

Make sure that you are truthful in the information you provide on the application because providing false information disqualifies your application.

Good luck with your housing search. If you have additional questions, please email us at: or call Claudia Stella at 650.797.6111

Already have a Section 8 Voucher and you want to Move? Click here to learn how to Port your Section 8 Voucher.