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Working with the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program

Posted by taylor on July 26th, 2017

The UAA will be hosting a meeting on “Working with Ten ants on Section 8 Housing” tomorrow, July 27th at 7:00 at the UAA Office (448 E Winchester, #460, Murray). Please join us if you are interested in learning more!

Section 8 housing (or 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 housing choice voucher program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. A very low-income family is selected by the local housing authority to participate, and is encouraged to consider several housing choices to secure the best housing for the family needs. 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 aka Housing Authorities). 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.

During the application process, the PHA will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. The PHA will verify this information with other local agencies, the tenant's employer, and bank, and will use the information to determine program eligibility and the amount of the housing assistance payment

If the PHA determines that a family is eligible, the PHA will put their name on a waiting list, unless it is able to assist them immediately. Once their name is reached on the waiting list, the PHA will contact them and issue to them a housing voucher.

Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the PHA based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status.

Once the potential tenant receives their housing voucher they are then free to choose a place to rent. This is where you the landlord comes into play.

The tenant will apply as normal, however, they will inform you that they are on section 8 housing. You are to consider the voucher as part of their income when making a decision to rent to the tenant. Once you have approved the tenant contact their case worker at your local housing authority. This worker will be able to assist you in scheduling an inspection of the property.

The timeliness of the inspection depends upon each individual housing authority, so be sure to ask how long it will take. They will come and inspect to make sure the property is safe and habitable. If you don’t pass the inspection you may deny the tenants application and move on to the next in line.

Once the inspection is complete you will sign 2 different agreements: 1) The lease with the tenant, to be enforced as normal, and 2) the contract with the housing authority, promising you uphold your obligations and conditions.

If during the tenancy you have any problems or question, contact the tenant’s case worker to help resolve the issue.

Once a Housing Authority approves an eligible family's housing unit, the family and the landlord sign a lease and, at the same time, the landlord and the PHA sign a housing assistance payments contract that runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone, tenant, landlord, and PHA, has obligations and responsibilities under the voucher program.

Tenant's Obligations: 

When a family selects a housing unit, and the PHA approves the unit and lease, the family signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. After the first year the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease.

When the family is settled in a new home, the family is expected to comply with the lease rules and the program requirements, pay its share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition and notify the PHA of any changes in income or family composition.

Landlord's Obligations: 

The role of the landlord in the voucher program is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program's housing quality standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with the PHA.

Housing Authority's Obligations: 

The PHA administers the voucher program locally. The PHA provides a family with the housing assistance that enables the family to seek out suitable housing and the PHA enters into a contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet the owner's obligations under the lease, the PHA has the right to terminate assistance payments. The PHA must reexamine the family's income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least annually to ensure that it meets minimum housing quality standards.

For more information about the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program email info@uaahq.org or call 801-487-5619

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