Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidelines
What Are Housing Choice Vouchers?
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 rental 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.
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 HHA 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.
Housing Vouchers - How Do They Function?
The housing choice voucher program places the choice of housing in the hands of an eligible individual family. A family is selected by the PHA to participate and is encouraged to consider several housing choices to secure the best housing for the family's needs. A housing voucher holder is advised of the unit size for which they are eligible based on family size and composition.
The housing unit selected by the family must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before HHA can approve the unit. Once the voucher holder finds a unit that they wish to occupy and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the HHA inspector and staff must inspect the dwelling and determine that the rent request is reasonable prior to the tenant moving in, if not already living in the unit.
HHA determines a payment standard that is the amount generally needed to rent a moderately-priced dwelling in the local housing market, and that is used to calculate the amount of housing assistance a family will receive. However, the payment standard does not limit and does not affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge, or the family may pay. A family which receives a housing voucher must select a unit within the payment standard. The housing voucher family must pay approximately 30% of their monthly adjusted gross household income for rent and no more than 40% of their monthly adjusted gross income.