Housing Choice Vouchers
The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program is a federally funded and income-based program designed to provide decent and safe housing in the private market to qualified low to moderate-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is the largest program the Authority administers.
Since the assistance is provided on behalf of the family, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. A qualified participant is issued a voucher and is responsible for finding housing. Upon finding a unit, documentation for the prospective unit and landlord must be submitted for preliminary eligibility. A HUD Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection is scheduled upon receipt of unit information and the participant may only move in once the unit passes inspection.
How the Program Works
The family is responsible for:
- Selecting a suitable housing unit for rent. The family has 60 days after receiving a HCV to find a unit. They can also request an extension in writing if they feel more time is necessary. A 'Unit Search' will be given to you to fill out, as a means of tracking your efforts. Extensions are given in 30-day increments.
- Select a unit in which the landlord would agree to participate as part of the HCV program.
- A list of some of the available units is provided in the form of a Landlord Listing by MHA.
- Landlords screen families as tenants.
While searching for a unit, keep in mind the housing payment standards and Utilities Allowance (depending of what type of housing) have a bearing on what you can afford for rent.
Once the desired unit is found, rent is agreed upon and after the tenant and landlord agree to enter a lease the family is required to submit a fully completed Leasing Packet (provided by MHA), which includes the Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA).
- This preliminary/proposed lease agreement must include the names of all occupants, the proposed rent amount, and the completed utility section.
- This preliminary/proposed lease agreement must not include signatures or effective dates.
- The lease between the tenant and owner is the same lease used for unassisted tenants and the terms and conditions must be consistent with State and local laws
- The lease must specify utilities and appliances.
- The lease must include the HUD required Tenancy Addendum (MHA will provide). Terms of the tenancy addendum prevail over any other provision of the lease.
- When the Leasing Packet is received by MHA, an inspection will be requested is the unit if found to be affordable for the tenant
- The unit must pass a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection. This inspection will be conducted approximately three (3) to fifteen (15) days after receiving the completed Leasing Packet.
- A rent reasonableness study will be conducted to determine if the request is reasonable as compared to similar unassisted units, considering location, quality, size, type, age, amenities, housing services, maintenance, and utilities to be provided.
- When the unit passes the HQS inspection, a notice will be sent informing you that the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) has been approved and the contract is ready to be signed.
- The notice will also provide the approved contract rent and rent portions to be paid.
- The lease must be for at least one year. After the first year, the landlord may request a rent increase on the existing unit.
- HAP payments will begin when the HAP contract is signed and the signed lease is received by MHA.
- The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord.
Once the family is in their unit, they are expected to:
- Comply with the lease and the program requirements
- Pay its share of rent on time
- Maintain the unit in good condition
- Report changes to MHA of income/family composition
Landlord Obligations: The role of the landlord in the HCV program is to provide "decent, safe, and sanitary housing" to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling must pass the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments (HAP). To read more about the role of the landlord, or if you are interested in becoming a landlord under the HCV program, please read Landlord Information.
MHA Obligations: Through the HCV program, MHA provides families with housing assistance that enables them to seek suitable housing in the Marion jurisdiction. MHA will enter into a contract with the landlord and provide payments on behalf of the family. After a family has applied for the HCV program MHA will:
- Review all applicants to determine program eligibility
- Explains and enforces the rules of the program to families and property owners/landlords
- Issues HCV to families
- Inspects the properties for compliance with HQS
- Approves the property, the owner, and the lease
- Sends housing assistance payments to the owner
- Conducts annual re-exams of the family's income and composition and adjusts rent portions if necessary.
- If the participant or landlord fails to comply with the program requirements, MHA has the right to terminate assistance payments and/or terminate families from the program.