The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the largest rental assistance program funded by the United States Federal Government and provides housing assistance to low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled.
When a household is determined to be eligible to participate in the program, they will be issued a voucher. This voucher provides the opportunity for participants to search for and choose housing in the private market, as long as that rental unit meets program requirements.
These vouchers are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered by local and regional public housing agencies (PHA). The housing authorities are responsible for adhering to the regulations set by HUD in the issuing and management of the vouchers and the program.
A participant that is offered a housing choice voucher is responsible for finding suitable housing where the owner agrees to receive the subsidy (voucher) and abide by all program policies and procedures.
The participant may select a unit within the housing agency’s jurisdiction. Or if they like they can choose a rental unit in another agency’s jurisdiction as well. When the participant selects a unit in another jurisdiction, this is referred to as portability. There are restrictions to portability that may not allow for an immediate move, however we will go into more detail on this later in the training.
The rental unit chosen as part of the program may include single-family homes, townhouses, condos, or apartments. In some cases, the participant’s current rental unit could be approved, but there are some restrictions with this.
Prior to being approved for lease execution, all units must be inspected by a certified housing specialist and must meet the minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by HUD and the Housing Agency..
Once the unit has been approved, the renter will be required to enter into a lease agreement with the landlord prior to occupying the unit. The lease will need to be turned into the housing authority to ensure that it includes all legally required information and is then kept on file.
The Housing Agency then enters into an agreement with the landlord. This is the Housing Assistance Payments Contract (HAP). This contract allows for direct payments to be made to the landlord for the contracted amount.
The participant is responsible for paying the difference between the total rent amount and the housing assistance payment amount directly to the landlord as determined by the terms of the lease agreement.
The housing assistance payment is made to the landlord on a monthly basis for as long as the participant remains in the unit and both the tenant and the landlord are in compliance with the program requirements