Who is eligible to receive a Section 8 voucher?
Adults 18 years or older in households earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) are eligible for Section 8 assistance. As defined by HUD, a household or family consists of one or more persons. Single persons and households without children are eligible for a Housing Choice Voucher. United States citizens and non-citizens with eligible immigration status may receive assistance through the Section 8 program.
How do I apply for Section 8 rental assistance?
Households may apply to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program through JHA during an open application period. Due to high demand, JHA’s HCV waiting list is often closed until we can provide assistance to new households. When JHA opens the waiting list for new applicants, the date will be announced in the local media, on our website, and on our Facebook page. You can not apply for a Section 8 voucher while the list is closed.
It is against HUD policy to charge for a Section 8 application. For applicants who need assistance completing the application during the open application period, reasonable accommodations may be made through the PHA or landlord.
How do I check my application status?
JHA does not give a position number for your housing application. Please understand that the process is a lengthy one. It may be a year or more before you are contacted for an interview. Once your name approaches the top of the waiting list, a letter will be mailed to the address provided on your application. If you do not respond to the letter by the deadline given, JHA will assume that you are no longer interested in receiving housing assistance, and your name will be removed from the waiting list. Therefore, it is important that you immediately report any changes in your contact information by completing the Change of Information form. Again, you could be denied housing if you fail to make timely changes to your application.
How can I report changes in my family’s size, address or income?
If there are any changes in your family related to income, size, composition or address, you must update your information with the PHA as soon as possible. If you are on the waiting list, you can update your information by completing a Change of Information form. If you are already on the HCV program, please contact your caseworker to schedule an appointment to report any changes.
I owe balance to JHA or another low-income housing development. Am I still eligible for housing?
If you owe a balance to any property receiving HUD Rental Assistance, no matter the location, your application cannot be approved until the balance is paid in full. You may submit your application, but once your name reaches the top of the waiting list, the entire balance must be paid before you can be housed. If you would like to set up a repayment agreement or have questions about your balance, please contact our office.
I have a criminal history. Am I still eligible for housing?
According to Federal Regulations there are two felonies that automatically disqualify you from federally funded low income and subsidized housing programs:
- Lifetime registration on the sex offender registry
- Conviction of the manufacture or production of methamphetamine (meth) in federally assisted housing.
Note, these two rules would apply to any member of your household on your application and would disqualify you all as a family.
There will be a formal background check on all household members over the age of 18. If you have arrests and/or convictions other than those listed above, you may still be eligible to receive a Section 8 voucher. Private landlords may also run their own criminal background check and may have different requirements from JHA’s.
Can Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher assistance be granted immediately?
No, in most situations, a voucher applicant will not receive assistance before households above them on the waiting list. In situations of chronic homelessness or natural disasters, immediate assistance may be available through HUD or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Be wary of fraudulent businesses or services offering expedited assistance. The only way to receive housing choice voucher assistance is through a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) managed by the Public Housing Agency.
What types of housing units can participate in the Section 8 program?
In general, there are no special Section 8 requirements regarding housing type. Tenants are free to choose a home that fits their needs, complies with health and sanitary standards and meets the rent amount limits set by the PHA. Thus, Section 8 tenants can rent duplexes, apartments, family houses and condominiums. For your convenience, there is a Landlord List available, which includes contact information for some of landlords in our area.
Will I be responsible for the household utilities?
JHA does not provide utilities for tenants in Section 8 housing. However, you may receive a utility allowance towards your utility bill. If applicable, you will be informed of your utility allowance when you are informed of your rent amount. Utility allowances are paid directly to the utility provider.
What are my obligations as a tenant?
Tenants who are renting a home under the Housing Choice Voucher Program have responsibilities towards both the landlord and the Section 8 rental unit. Thus, the tenant family must agree to:
- Send regular updates on income and eligibility to the PHA.
- Pay their portion of the rent regularly.
- Allow the PHA to inspect the unit whenever necessary.
- Repair any damages caused by family members.
- Maintain the property and do not destroy it.
What are the obligations of the Public Housing Authority?
The PHA is responsible for determining the eligibility of the applicants, inspecting the rental units before a family moves in and calculating the amount of rental assistance the tenants will receive. The PHA also makes the voucher rental payment directly to the landlord.
What happens if I am denied Section 8 assistance?
If the PHA decides that you are not eligible for a Section 8 housing voucher, you will receive a denial letter stating the reasons behind the decision. However, you have the right to appeal the decision before the deadline stated on the document.
How can I appeal a Section 8 denial?
If you were denied assistance by the PHA, you can file an appeal to contest the decision. You must request an informal hearing, and you must submit all relevant documents to the hearing officer, who will review them as you present your case.
I am having trouble finding rental housing before my voucher expires. Can I request an extension?
Voucher households have at least 60 days to find acceptable rental housing. Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) have the discretion to grant extensions beyond the required 60-day search term based on household circumstances and local housing markets. If you think you may need more time, please contact your caseworker to discuss your options.
How are units approved for Housing Choice Voucher tenancy?
After you have submitted a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA), JHA will contact the owner of the unit to schedule an inspection.
The purpose of the inspection is to:
- Confirm the unit is eligible and not subject to existing HUD rental assistance.
- Determine the unit is safe and standard using the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Determine that the rent being charged for the unit is reasonable in comparison to nearby unassisted homes.
If the unit is not deemed eligible, we will provide the owner and household with an opportunity to correct outstanding issues.
If I find housing before I get my Section 8 voucher, can I get approved sooner?
No, finding a unit before receiving your voucher does not have any influence on when you receive your voucher. Once placed on the waiting list, you must wait until JHA is able to assist you.
Can Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers be transferred to a different area?
Yes, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers may be transferred to another Public Housing Authority’s (PHA) service area once specific conditions are met. This process is referred to as portability.
To transfer voucher assistance to a new location, voucher households must be in good standing with the Initial PHA and eligible to receive HCV assistance in the Receiving PHA’s service area. Also, the household must live in Madison County for one year before transferring the voucher outside of Madison County.
Can a Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers be transferred to another person?
No, Housing Choice Vouchers are not transferrable between people. In some cases, such as the death of the head of household, housing authorities may allow assistance to be transferred to an adult within the household that is legally able to execute the existing lease with the landlord.