What is Housing Choice Voucher Program?
The 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. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.
The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.
Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs). The PHAs receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program.
A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family's choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. This unit may include the family's present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the PHA.
A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the PHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. Under certain circumstances, if authorized by the PHA, a family may use its voucher to purchase a modest home.
How does the program work?
1. Complete the Online Application
An application must be completed and submitted and sent to our voucher specialists.
2. Application Approval
Once your application is received and approved, your name is placed on the waiting list. Vouchers can only be given as they become available. The list is first come, first served. Some local hardship preferences are given but all applicants must complete the required paperwork.
3. Attend Briefing
Once your name comes to the top of the waiting list you are required to attend a mandatory briefing before receiving rental assistance. At the briefing, you will learn more about the requirements of the Housing Housing Choice Voucher Program (or Section 8) operates.
4. Voucher Offered
After you attend the briefing the voucher will be issued to you and you will have 60-120 days to locate an eligible home. You may choose to stay in your current rental unit or move to a new location. The owner must be willing to participate and sign a contract with the Section 8 Program to receive rental assistance.
5. Complete Request for Tenancy Approval Forms
Once you have found a suitable and eligible home, the landlord will need to complete a “Request for Tenancy Approval” (this form will be in your briefing packet) and submit them to our office for approval.
6. Rental Inspection
The Unit will be inspected to be sure that it passes the program standards. Rental owners are given time to correct items that fail inspection.
7. Rent Payment
After the unit has passed inspection and all involved parties agree, the lease and contract are executed. HUD will pay a portion of your rent directly to your landlord.
Owners are guaranteed a portion of the rent by HUD. The program allows the families to better afford their portion of the rent, resulting in more consistent, timely and full payment to owners.
The inspection of the unit helps to alert owners of required and/or recommended repairs. Ideally, this timely maintenance will reduce costly investments.
Tenants on the rental assistance program are required to sign a lease, giving owners some security. The rental assistance program also offers specific guarantees.