Tenant-Based Assistance

Tenant-Based Assistance

  • Year Started 1974
  • Administratering Agency Public Housing Authority- HUD
  • 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 60% of area median income and small population that are between 60% and 80% of AMI
  • Client Group Type TBRA
  • Housing Type Name Public Housing Authority
  • Last Updated March 2, 2022

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

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program ( TBRA )

The tenant-based rental assistance refers to the rental subsidy that the participating jurisdictions can use to assist the individual families to afford housing costs such as rent and security deposits. Besides this, the participating jurisdictions can also help tenants with utility deposits but in special cases only.

Some common kinds of tenant-based rental assistance programs are as follows:

One program is which provides payments to make up the difference between what families can afford and the market rent standards. An example of a typical TBRA program is the section 8 voucher program.

Other TBRA programs assist the tenants to pay other housing costs such as security and utility deposits. But this assistance is only provided in conjunction with the rental assistance programs.

Benefits of the TBRA Program

There are a wide variety of reasons serving numerous functions which have led to the development of the TBRA programs. Here’s a glimpse of some of the benefits of the TBRA program.

Flexibility for households

The TBRA programs offer flexibility to the households to choose their neighborhood and the type of housing they are looking for such as apartments, single-family houses, garden-style units, or others. If at some point, the family wants to move to another housing unit, then also the family can receive TBRA assistance.

Flexibility for Private jurisdiction

The TBRA programs give a way out to the jurisdictions to meet the fluctuating demand for housing. With this, it can provide TBRA assistance to many or few households whom it considers eligible according to the HOME budget and consolidated plan.

The private jurisdictions can also design special TBRA programs according to the housing needs of the community.


The next benefit of TBRA programs is their cost-effectiveness. The TBRA programs are not that expensive as compared to the other public subsidies. The communities which have high vacancy rates, or where the private jurisdictions want to make it affordable are the most effective for TBRA.

Risk avoidance

The risk factor in the construction or rehabilitation of a house is huge. The owners and developers can put the whole private jurisdiction’s investment at risk. But if the tenant fails to meet the requirements, the private jurisdictions can terminate the assistance. There is no long-term financial obligation on the PJs posed by the TBRA.

Relocation and displacement assistance

The private jurisdiction also uses TBRA programs to assist the families which got displaced by HOME projects.

Kinds of TBRA Programs

There are numerous kinds of TBRA programs developed by the private jurisdiction. Let us learn about those programs in greater depth.

Self-sufficiency programs- The participants of HOME TBRA programs require to participate in the self-sufficiency program as it is a crucial part of the rental assistance.

Homebuyer programs- A tenant whose income is less and who cannot afford housing can receive housing assistance from HOME TBRA programs. The payment received can be used for the utility expenses or for paying the monthly rentals.

Targeted populations programs- It refers to the program where private jurisdiction establishes local preferences for the groups with special needs. By special needs, we mean persons suffering from AIDS, disabled and homeless people.

Security deposit programs- The PJ can also establish a program meant for helping the tenants with their security deposits. The amount for the security deposit is equal to two months’ rent for the housing unit. The PJ can pay this amount to the tenant or the landlord.

Ineligible Program Activities

No doubt that the HOME program is quite flexible but there are a great number of program activities that are not eligible for the HOME TBRA assistance. When the resident is being recognized as a homeowner, one cannot avail of the assistance of TBRA

Income Eligibility Requirements

The HOME TBRA program has established two key rules determining the income eligibility for the households.

Low income

The HOME TBRA program is for those tenants who are below the lower income limit fixed by the HUD. An income below 80 percent is deemed as lower income by the HUD. The income limit is decided by the HUD based on the family size and composition.

Funding Allocation

The PJ will allocate the funds to a limited number of households only whose income is between 60-80% of the median income. The income eligibility is decided before the signing of the contract takes place.

How to Select the Tenant?

A written tenant selection policy is a must for the PJ as it clearly states how families will be selected for the programs. The tenants are selected based on their income and preferences.

Eligible TBRA units

The households are at freedom to choose the housing unit which they consider the best for them. The TBRA program consists of both public and private housing units. The rent of the housing units should also be reasonable otherwise the lease might be disapproved. The much better option for the households is to select the housing units with HOME assistance.

Parameters of assistance

There are some basic parameters fixed by the HOME program for the households and PJ payment. The rules also concern the length of time for a single TBRA contract. Let us understand the parameters of assistance in depth in the sections below.

Minimum and Maximum payment

The minimum and maximum payments are decided by the PJ. The minimum payment may be 10 percent of the income. Whereas the maximum payment is the difference between 30 percent of the income and rent decided by the PJ.

Length of TBRA assistance

The length of rental assistance contracts does not exceed more than two years. But according to the availability of the funds, the contracts can also be renewed. In some cases, these contracts may be less than two years.

Program models

Section 8 certificate program model- Under this program, the tenant has to pay 30% of their income as rent. The assistance from TBRA, later on, covers up the gap between the tenant’s payment and the actual rent.

Section 8 voucher program model- The PJ calculates the difference between 30% of the household income and the rent standard. This difference amount will be the TBRA assistance.

Individualized program models- There are some PJs who prefer to design their program to administer a security deposit program or a specialized program addressing the special needs of the group.

Payment standard

All those PJs establishing the TBRA programs should also formulate a rent standard representing the utility cost of moderately priced units that meet the HUD’s requirements. It is established based on the bedroom size. The PJ should compare the FMR to the actual cost of housing in the area to decide the rent standard.

Calculating the Rental Subsidy

Calculating the rental subsidy is one of the crucial decisions of PJs. The three crucial factors impacting the household and PJ are the family income, payment standard, and costs of housing and utilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

How PHAs apply for tenant-based voucher funding?

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There are notices published in the federal register regarding the available funds. PHA should go through these notices and respond to them.

How to decide if the family’s income is eligible or not?

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The PHA compares the family’s gross income to the income established by the HUD and determines if the family is eligible for housing assistance.

How much rent is covered by the vouchers?

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PHAs responsibility is to pay the difference between 30% of family income and PHA-determined payment.

What kind of applicants is eligible for tenant-based vouchers?

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Families with very low incomes are eligible for tenant-based vouchers. In addition to this, the families which are displaced by public housing demolition are also eligible for this.

Upon having the voucher, how does the family obtain the apartment?

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The family is free to find a housing unit that meets their needs. If the family finds such a unit with reasonable rent, the PHA enters into the HAP contract with the property owner. Consequently, the PHA can make the subsidy payments on behalf of the family.

Which Organizations can Apply for Tenant-Based Voucher Funding from HUD?

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The housing assistance programs are authorized by the PHAs and can apply for funding from HUD.

If you want to know more about the tenant based rental assistance, then visit these links given below.