The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the largest rental assistance program funded by the United States Federal Government that provides housing assistance to low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled.
When a family is determined to be eligible to participate in the program, the family will be issued a voucher, which represents subsidy, that provides the opportunity to search and choose housing in the private market that meets the program’s requirements. These vouchers are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered locally by public housing agencies (PHA).
A family that is offered a housing choice voucher is responsible for finding suitable housing where the owner agrees to receive the subsidy and the conditions associated to this subsidy. The family may select a unit within the agency’s jurisdiction or in another agency’s jurisdiction. If the family is interested in a unit in another jurisdiction this is considered portability. There are restrictions that may not allow this move immediately.
This unit may include single-family homes, townhouses, condos, or apartments. In some cases, the family’s current rental unit could be selected (with certain restrictions). All units must be inspected and meet the minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the HUD and the agency, prior to being approved for lease execution.
When the unit has been approved for leasing, the family will be required to enter into a lease agreement with the landlord. The agency will then enter into an agreement with the owner called the Housing Assistance Payments Contract (HAP). This will allow a direct housing assistance payment to the landlord.
The family typically pays the difference between the landlord’s actual rent and the housing assistance payment amount. Under special programs, a family may even use its voucher to purchase a modest home.
Additional information about the program can be found at https://www.hud.gov/topics/housing_choice_voucher_program_section_8