The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) began in 1974 as a project-based rental assistance program. The program was authorized under Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937. The section was amended repeatedly to bring in new provisions and benefits.
Overview of the Program
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federal program that provides tenant-based rental assistance to low-income individuals, families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford safe, decent housing in private homes and apartments with proper sanitation and dwelling unit. The program is federally funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The local Public Housing Agency (PHA) receives this funding to administer the program locally.
Since it is a rental assistance program, the housing subsidy is paid directly to the private landlord of the house by the PHA. It may be a portion of the rent or the entire rent which depends on the amount you are qualifying for. The participant will then have to pay the difference in amount to the landlord. If a participant qualifies for the program, it is his/her responsibility to find a house in the choice of his/her neighborhood. If the landlord agrees to rent out on this program, he/she can move in.
The primary goal of the Housing Choice Voucher Program is to improve living conditions for extremely-low and low-income individuals and families while keeping rent payments affordable; to encourage freedom of housing choice and integration of low-income and minority people into mainstream society; to provide decent, safe, and affordable housing for low-income individuals and families; and to provide an incentive to private property owners to rent to low-income people by providing timely subsidy payments.
Eligible Types of Housing
Enquire for landlords who accept HCVP vouchers . The local public health agencies may also have a list of available units on their website. Eligible types of housing include single-family homes, low-rise, and high-rise buildings, semi-detached and townhouses, condos in suburbs, and urban, and rural areas.
Participants who qualify can select any type of housing unit that meets program requirements. Also, the type of household a family qualifies for with a voucher depend on the number of family members. For example, a family of two cannot qualify for a house with three bedrooms.
To help you find a decent safe house, your house must meet the standard set by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Your selected unit must have: adequate living area; adequate light and ventilation; adequate heating, electrical, water, sewer, and structural system; and there should not be any condition that endangers the health and safety of the occupants.
An official representative from State Housing Department Agency will be assigned to inspect that your housing meets all the standards set by HUD.
Who is Eligible to Apply
To be eligible to apply for Housing Choice Voucher Program, you should be in need of a safe, clean house; have a low or very-low-income; and should meet the income requirements of the program. Families who meet the program and income eligibility will be selected for the program. Since it is not a loan, the family will receive a voucher after selection. With it, they need to find a house that meets the housing standard. Once the housing unit is finalized, the subsidy amount will be given directly to the landlord.
However, the participants should pay the security deposit which should not exceed the rent for the first two months. Also, the participants who qualify for the program need to pay a certain amount of the rent which may vary. But you won’t pay more than 30%-40% of your annual income towards paying the rent.
How to Apply
You can apply for a voucher at the local public housing agencies (PHA). The local PHA can give you the correct information about the application process. Many require participants to submit a preliminary application during Open Enrollment. Through a lottery system, participants who have submitted a preliminary application will be selected at random, as funding becomes available. The persons selected will be notified to complete their full application.
Once everything is final and the house is also selected, the tenants and the landlord need to attend a briefing session where the responsibilities of each will be discussed by a PHA agent. There are several guidelines that the HCVP participating tenant needs to abide by or else he/she might risk losing the residence. Similarly, there are set of guidelines for landlords as well for when the landlord can increase the rent or terminate the lease. In case of any violation of any guideline by either of the party, they need to inform the State Housing Development Authority, who will take the final call in any disputes.
How to Contact
The housing program is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development which operates from its headquarters at 451 7th Street S.W., Washington, DC 2041. For queries, feedback or complaints, you can call the helpline on 1-800-955-2232.