• family standing in front of apartments

Apply for Rental Assistance Wait List

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a rent subsidy program that assists eligible low-income persons and their families in obtaining affordable, decent, and safe housing by paying a portion of their rent. Eligible applicants locate a unit in the private rental market. Rent must be within the current allowed Payment Standards.

"The Housing Choice Voucher wait list is currently closed. Please check back on June 15, 2019 for updated wait list application information.

For more information on the wait-list closure, read our Press-Releases about Commission seeks equity in housing.

Please read these special announcement

Letter to Applicants of the Housing Choice Voucher Waitlist

In an effort to improve service, the Sonoma County Housing Authority has proposed several changes to its federal Housing Choice Voucher program. Significant changes include converting to a lottery waitlist, removing specific preferences and canceling the current waitlist.  

A public hearing on the proposed changes will be held Wednesday, May 22, 2019 from 10-11:30 a.m. in the hearing room at the Sonoma County Community Development Commission offices, located at 1440 Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa. The current waitlist will close Friday, May 17, 2019 at 5 p.m. and remain closed until after the hearing.  

The Housing Authority understands these proposals are substantial and wants your input. To ensure your comments are captured, or if you cannot attend the hearing, we encourage you to provide written comment prior to the hearing via email to scha.update@sonoma-county.org or mail to 1440 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95403, Attention: Martha Cheever. Comments can also be provided by calling (707) 565-1848.  

If the proposed changes are approved, the current waitlist will be canceled. A new waitlist application period will open from July 1-31, 2019. Once the application period closes, staff will assign each application a lottery number and use randomized computer software to select 500 applications to place on the new waitlist. 

Households on the waitlist can expect to receive service within one to two years. The waitlist will remain closed until all 500 households receive service, at which time the lottery will repeat. Applicants not selected in the lottery may reapply for the next one.   

While many public housing authorities conduct waitlist lotteries, Sonoma County’s waitlist has remained open for almost 20 years, operating on a first-come, first-served basis. The list currently has more than 26,000 households. With about 300 vouchers becoming available each year, it would take 90 years to serve every household that is currently on the waitlist. Converting to a lottery will create an expectation of service that does not exist under the current structure. 

The lottery system waitlist is one of several changes proposed to improve the current program. Another noteworthy change would remove a local preference that essentially blocks 18,000 waitlist families from receiving service by moving households that live, or work, in the Sonoma County service area ahead of those that do not – regardless of when they applied.

While administered locally, the Housing Choice Voucher program is open to all qualified applicants in the United States, regardless of location. The combination of a continuously open waitlist and the local preference effectively mean that only households already living, or working, in Sonoma County receive service – despite the program’s national reach. Removing this preference will create equity and allow the program to operate as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development intended.  

The Sonoma County Housing Authority acknowledges that there are not enough vouchers for those in need and has proposed these changes to provide equitable and improved service. We realize you may have questions or concerns and want to collect your comments, which will be used to help inform the process.  

The full draft of the proposed Housing Authority Administrative Plan is available for review online or in our office.

For questions or to leave a comment, call (707) 565-1848 or email scha.update@sonoma-county.org.


Martha Cheever
Housing Authority Manager
Sonoma County Community Development Commission 

Income Limits

The following are the maximum annual income limits for Sonoma County Housing Authority's Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program as of April 1, 2018.

Income Limits: Your household's annual gross total income (income before taxes or any other amounts are taken away) must be less than or equal to the amounts shown above. You must include the income of every person who will live with you. (You do not have to include earned income of minor children 17 years or younger.)

Income Limits for Households with No Employed Adult(s)

Household Size Yearly Income
1 $34,400
2 $39,300
3 $44,200
4 $49,100
5 $53,050
6 $57,000
7 $60,900
8 $64,850

Income Limits for Households with Employed Adult(s)

Household Size Yearly Income
1 $41,280
2 $47,160
3 $53,040
4 $58,920
5 $63,660
6 $68,400
7 $73,080
8 $77,820


Families on the Sonoma County Housing Authority’s waiting list are served based on preferences and the date and time of application. The Sonoma County Housing Authority has established the following local preferences for selecting applicants from our waiting list:

Preference is granted to applicants with household members in Any One of the following groups:

  • United States Veterans or surviving spouses of veterans
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Seniors (62+ years of age)
  • Families with minor children (under 18 years of age)

In-Place Preference

  • Applies only to those who have been living in a unit in the jurisdiction of the Sonoma County Housing Authority (within the County of Sonoma, outside the city limits of Santa Rosa) for at least three months and the owner/manager is willing to accept the Housing Choice Voucher Program if the applicant is approved.
  • Documents required at the time your name is reached on waiting list:
  • A letter from the owner/manager certifying that they will accept the voucher.
  • A copy of applicant’s lease in an appropriate size dwelling for the family listed in the housing application.
  • Copies of utility bills for a 3 (three) month period verifying residency in the unit.

Important Note: Should a voucher be issued using this preference and the voucher is unable to be utilized in the “in place” unit at the time of voucher issuance, the voucher will be rescinded and the applicant returned to the waiting list.

You will only be required to provide documentation for any preferences that apply to you at the time your name is reached on the waiting list.

At this time we are unable to estimate the length of time an applicant will wait. 

Contact Information

Martha Cheever
Housing Authority Manager
Community Development Commission
Contact us by Phone

Housing Authority Administrative Plan

The purpose of the administrative plan is to establish policies for carrying out the programs in a manner consistent with HUD requirements and local goals contained in our agency's plan.

Housing Authority Admin Plan
Last updated July 2018