The existence of housing assistance programs is vital in ensuring individuals and families that need help affording housing will have access to clean and safe options. The availability of these programs can be especially important for the disabled, the elderly, or very low-income families with children.
There are many different programs available, and they can vary from state to state. The housing choice voucher program is a federal government run program that can help those that qualify to afford home rentals within the private market. Below is more information explaining housing choice vouchers and their importance.
How Housing Choice Vouchers Work
Applicants often prefer this particular program due to the freedom of choice it gives. Instead of being limited to only subsidized housing, the beneficiaries can use vouchers to rent any home within the private market that accepts them as payment. The program also helps ensure proper living standards are maintained as the landlords are required to work within guidelines pre-set by the PHA (Public Housing Authority).
The vouchers will cover all or some of the monthly rental fees, and in some circumstances, vouchers can be used towards the purchase of a qualified home. A predetermined amount that the enrollee has been approved for will be paid to the landlord/owner of the home directly by the PHA. If there is a difference between the subsidy paid by the PHA and the rental amount, the enrollee is responsible for paying the difference.
Eligibility is limited to US citizens and non-citizens, dependent on immigration status. The combination of income and family size are the main determinants of eligibility and approval for housing vouchers.
In relation to family size, income typically cannot exceed 50% of the local median income for the applicant. The local PHA will determine a family’s or individuals approval based upon information it collects from the applicant, the employer, and banks on any assets owned or money available.
If you would like to check yours and your family’s eligibility for the housing voucher program, you can visit the website or local office for your PHA or a HUD authority.
If you’d like to apply for approval, you can do so through your local PHA or Hud office. They’ll be able to provide the paperwork needed for completion and request anything required of you to complete the process.
If you are approved for the housing choice vouchers, typically you’ll be added to a waiting list pending availability. Sometimes depending on demand and availability, vouchers can be issued right away.
Demand for any housing assistance programs can be high, especially in larger cities and more highly populated areas. Most PHA offices will run waiting lists for the housing choice vouchers, and they are not maintained on a first come first serve basis. Essentially, families or individuals that are deemed more urgent in their situations can be moved ahead of those already on the list. Conditions that can be considered more urgent are: those paying more than 50% of their incomes in rent currently, homeless applicants, applicants living in run-down housing that is not suitable, those that lost their housing due to unforeseen circumstances.
Responsibilities of Tenant, Landlord, and PHA
When an applicant is approved, and a home is selected, an agreement is entered into by the tenant (applicant), the landlord or owner of the home, and the local PHA. It’s essential that all parties adhere to conditions specified in the agreement as it protects the applicant, the landlord, and the interests of the PHA.
The tenant has the responsibility of paying their share of the rent and making sure it is done on time. Any changes in income or family size must be reported immediately. They also must ensure proper maintenance of the property and prompt reporting of any problems with the property.
The landlord is obligated to maintain safe, clean, and functional housing for their tenants. All standards preset by the PHA must be met while payments are being made to the landlord for the property.
The PHA must ensure prompt payment to the landlord based on the housing voucher agreement and provide yearly inspections of the property to ensure safe and clean conditions are being offered.