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  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

  • Year Started 1974
  • Administratering Agency Public Housing Agencies(PHA)
  • Total Units Count 3,435,161
  • Total Assisted Units Count 2,683,016
  • # Persons/Houshold Served 2,274,058
  • Funding Agency U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Population Targeted Low Income Families below 50% of area median income
  • Client Group Type 811
  • Housing Type Name Multifamily Housing
  • Last Updated June 1, 2022

If the resource information above is incorrect, please notify your local HUD field office.

Housing Choice Vouchers

It is a program initiated by the federal government for helping out low-income families, seniors, and disabled ones to secure decent housing for them. The participants can find their housing which includes townhouses, single-family houses, and apartments.

The participants should opt for housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not confined to the units in subsidized housing projects. The public housing agencies administer the housing choice vouchers. The PHA receives funds from HUDto make things work.

Once the family has got a housing choice voucher, the family can look for the suitable housing unit of their choice and the owner will fix the rent as per the program. But the rental units families choose must meet the minimum standards of health and safety.

The PHA also pays the housing subsidy to the landlord on behalf of the family. But the difference between actual rent and the subsidy offered by the program has to be paid by the family.

Eligibility Criteria for the Program

Based on the annual gross income, family size, and U.S citizenship status, the PHA will determine your eligibility for the program. The family’s income should not be more than 50% of the median income for the county where the family intends to live.

For all those applicants whose income is not more than 30% of the median income, the PHA provides 75% of the housing choice voucher program. The income levels are not the same in every location and are decided by HUD.

The applicants can get to know the income limits of their area and family from the PHA. What happens during the application process is that PHA collects the information about your family members and the assets owned by them. The PHA then verifies the information given by you from the outside agencies.

Based on the verification, the PHA determines if your family is eligible for the program or not. If yes, then your name will be displayed on the waiting list, and issue you a housing choice voucher.

Local Preferences and a Waiting List

The long waiting periods are a common sight these days because the demand for housing assistance is more than the resources available to make ends meet. There is a possibility of PHA closing its waiting list if it has more families on the list waiting for housing assistance.

Selecting out of so many applicants on the waiting list becomes difficult for the PHA. So, what PHA does is it establishes the local preferences and accordingly selects the applicants from the waiting list.

A family which is homeless and living in substandard housing may be preferred by the PHA. in addition to this if the family’s more than 50% of the income goes into paying the rent and is displayed also enjoys a high chance of getting the assistance from PHA. Each PHA establishes its local preferences keeping in mind the housing needs and priorities of the particular community

How do Housing Choice Vouchers Function?

The program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individuals and families. Most probably, the PHA selects low-income families and encourages them to secure the best housing for their family needs.

An individual or family holding the housing choice voucher is advised of the unit size on the basis of the family size and composition. When choosing the housing unit, the families and individuals must ensure the health and safety standards.

Once you have found the housing unit for yourself, the PHA will inspect the dwelling and figure out if the rent is reasonable or not. The PHA then determines the payment standard to calculate the housing assistance that the family will need.

The family which receives the housing choice voucher is free to choose a unit with less or more rent according to the payment standard. In case the rent exceeds the payment standard, then the family should not pay more than 40% of its monthly income like rent.

Tenant, Landlord, Housing Agency, and HUD Roles

Role of a tenant

Upon selecting the housing unit, the PHA approves the unit and lease. The lease agreement is signed by the family for at least a year. Consequently, the tenant is asked to pay the security deposit to the landlord. The lease has to be renewed post the completion of one year term.

Besides this, the family has to comply with the lease and program requirements, pay the rent on time and maintain the sound condition of the housing unit.

Role of a landlord

The major role of the landlord in the program is to provide safe and decent housing to the tenants at affordable rents. Whatever services have been mentioned in the lease agreements, have to be adhered to by the landlord.

Role of Housing authority’s

Upon finding housing assistance for the family, the PHA enters into the contract with the landlord to make payments on the behalf of the family. The PHA can exercise its right to terminate the assistance payments in case the landlord is not able to meet the obligations as stated in the lease.

Besides this, the PHA examines the family’s income and composition from time to time to figure out if it meets the housing requirements or not.

HUD’s role

The HUD’s role is to provide funds so that the PHA can release the payments and offer housing assistance to the people. In addition to this, HUD invites PHAs to submit applications for funds. Upon reviewing the applications, the funds are awarded to the selected PHAs. whether the program rules are being followed properly or not is also monitored by HUD.

Housing Choice Vouchers Programs

There are numerous kinds of housing choice voucher programs such as emergency housing vouchers, family unification programs, mainstream vouchers, tenant protection vouchers, and many more. Let us know in depth about these housing choice voucher programs

Emergency housing voucher program

The American rescue plan act makes room for the Emergency housing voucher program. With the help of the emergency housing voucher program, the HUD allocates 70,000 housing choice vouchers to public housing authorities for individuals and families who are at risk of domestic violence, homelessness, sexual assault, human trafficking, and many others.

Family unification programs

The program is specifically meant for two different populations: the families with a lack of adequate housing and the ones who are homeless or are at the risk of becoming homeless. The FUP program works in collaboration with the public child welfare agencies.

Mainstream vouchers

Next comes the mainstream vouchers. The mainstream vouchers are for those who have mental or physical disabilities. This program serves the special population and is administered using the same rules as other housing choice vouchers.

Tenant protection vouchers

These vouchers are made available to those families which have received assistance from HUD. Certain tenant protection vouchers have become part of the public housing agency. The families on the PHA’s waiting lists can get a voucher reissued upon turnover.

FYI vouchers

This voucher makes housing choice voucher assistance available to PHAs in collaboration with the public child welfare agencies. The FYI voucher issued to the youth will provide housing assistance for a maximum of 36 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Statutory and Regulatory Authority

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Section 202, Housing Act of 1959

  • 12 U.S.C.A. § 1701q

Section 811, National Affordable Housing Act of 1990

  • 42 U.S.C.A § 8013

Select HUD Regulations

  • 24 C.F.R. Part 247 (evictions)
  • 24 C.F.R. Part 891 (supportive housing for the elderly and persons with disabilities)