There are four factors that PHAs must consider when determining eligibility for the HCV program. These include:
In addition to the eligibility factors, there are screenings that the PHA must conduct that may result in denial of assistance including:
Each applicant for assistance under the HCV program must meet HUD’s definition of a family. A family includes, but is not limited to, regardless of marital status, actual or perceived sexual orientation, or gender identity, the following:
HUD establishes income limits by family size for the area in which each PHA is located. These income limits are used to determine the family’s eligibility for the program and are published annually in a HUD Notice.
To be eligible for the program, a family must be either very low income or low-income. Extremely low-income (ELI) refers to families whose incomes meet the very low-income threshold (50% of area median income) and do not exceed the higher of the federal poverty line or 30% of area median income. PHAs do not need to determine the ELI limit for their local area. HUD publishes the ELI limits annually and can be found on
A family’s income must be within the income limits for the PHA’s jurisdiction at the time the family receives a voucher to search for housing. Income limits apply only at the time of admission and are not a factor in ongoing program eligibility.
While income limits are not a factor in ongoing eligibility, the amount of subsidy a participant qualifies for is partially based on income. This means the more income a family brings in, the less subsidy will be paid on their behalf. If a participating family reaches an income level where the calculations determine that they are responsible for 100% of the rent-to-owner, the family will remain on the program for an additional 6 months. At the end of the 6-month period, the family will be transitioned out of the program and receive an “End of Participation” notice.
Students at institutions of higher education who will not reside with their parents must meet additional eligibility criteria. These rules apply regardless of whether the student is considered a full-time or a part-time student.
Assistance shall only be provided to students who are otherwise eligible for the program and meet at least one of the following criteria.
Is an independent student defined as:
Is classified as a Vulnerable Youth defined by HUD as the individual has been verified as either homeless or at risk of homelessness and self-supporting during the school year in which the application is submitted. Verification must be conducted by:
Noncitizen students, even those with eligible immigration status for purposes of HUD’s financial assistance, are not eligible to receive housing assistance. A noncitizen student is a student who:
When a noncitizen student is accompanied by a noncitizen spouse and/or noncitizen minor children, those family members are also ineligible for assistance. If the noncitizen student and noncitizen spouse have citizen children, the whole family is still ineligible for assistance. However, if a non-citizen student has a citizen spouse, the citizen spouse and children if any, would be eligible for assistance. In that case, assistance would be prorated to ensure that assistance goes only to those family members with eligible immigration status.
Eligibility for Federal housing assistance is limited to U.S. citizens and noncitizens who have eligible immigration status. Families in which at least one member is a U.S. citizen or has eligible immigration status may also be eligible for pro-rated assistance.
A family in which some family members have eligible immigration status, and some do not, is called a mixed family. Mixed families receive prorated assistance based on the percentage of family members who qualify for assistance.
An individual who is not a U.S. citizen or national who is a resident of the U.S. and has any of the following immigration statuses is eligible for assistance:
Each eligible household member must sign a declaration of their status and also provide supporting documentation. Family members who do not sign a declaration of their status or provide the required supporting documentation will be considered ineligible noncitizens.
You can find an example of a HUD Declaration of Citizenship Status form here:
Documentation must be submitted by the time of the eligibility determination. Once documents have been submitted and verified for an individual, citizenship documentation for that individual will not need to be collected again. Household members who do not provide the required proof of citizenship or eligible immigration status will be considered ineligible noncitizens.
The PHA must provide an extension of up to 30 days to submit documentation of eligible status as long as the family submits the declaration of eligible immigration status and certifies that they need more time because the required documentation is temporarily unavailable. To obtain an extension, the family must also certify that prompt and diligent efforts will be undertaken to obtain the documentation.
Upon determining if the extension request meets the requirements, the PHA must inform the family, in writing, whether its request for a time extension has been granted or denied. If granted, the notice must state the specific period of the extension. If the extension request is denied, the notice must explain the reasons for the denial.
PHAs are required to conduct criminal background screenings to determine if any household member is subject to a lifetime sex offender registration requirement for all states in which the household members are known to have lived. PHAs are also required to obtain a criminal background check at the request of the unit owner and to utilize the Debts Owed to PHAs & Terminations Report to identify any previous evictions that are listed on HUD or the PHA’s required reasons for denial of admission.
PHAs must ask all household members to provide a list of the states in which they have lived and whether their name appears on any lifetime sex offender registry. Law enforcement agencies may charge a reasonable fee for providing the records to the PHA. Such charges must not be passed along to the applicant family.
PHAs must require that each adult member of the household provide a signed, written authorization for the PHA to obtain criminal conviction records from the National Crime Information Center, police departments, and other law enforcement agencies.
Criminal records must be maintained confidentially, and the contents therein may only be disclosed to persons on a job-related need to know basis. Criminal background results, including sex offender results must not be shared directly with the unit owner, and they must be destroyed promptly once their purpose has been served. However, the PHA must retain a record of the type of screening and the date screening was performed.
PHAs may deny admission based on criminal convictions or if the evidence indicates that a family member has engaged in such activity. PHAs are prohibited from denying admission solely based on arrest records.
If the PHA decides to deny admission based on a criminal conviction record, the PHA must notify the family of the pending denial action and must give the family an opportunity to dispute the accuracy and/or relevance of the record. A copy of the criminal conviction record must be provided to the head of household and to the subject of the record at this time.
PHAs are required to deny admission for the following specific types of criminal activity or alcohol abuse:
PHAs may establish policies that are stricter than the regulatory requirements listed above, so long as those policies do not discriminate in violation of civil rights laws. PHA policies may not be more lenient than those specified above.
PHAs must establish local policies concerning denial of assistance to applicants for the following reasons: