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October 22, 2018
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Home > Regional Housing & Planning Programs > Housing Programs > Housing Choice Voucher Program

What Tenants Need to Know

How to Apply for Housing Choice Voucher Assistance

You can apply for Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance by contacting your local housing agency.

Housing Agency Waiting Lists

Housing agencies have waiting lists for families because the demand for rental assistance exceeds its supply. The wait for assistance may be from a few months to a few years. Applicants need to contact the local housing agencies in writing to keep their applications up-to-date. Contact you local housing agency for further information on program waiting lists.

Occupancy Standards

The housing agency determines how many bedrooms each family needs. See the page on Occupancy Standards for further details.

Adding People to Your Household

You must contact your local housing agency to determine if a person is eligible to be added to the household and how that addition affects your assistance (the rent you pay and the number of bedrooms assigned). Criminal background checks may be required for adults moving into the unit.

Rent Calculations

Your portion of the rent is calculated by adding all income (see Income Limits) you receive and subtracting a portion for expenses such as medical and childcare and dependent children. What remains is your adjusted income, which is divided by 12 then multiplied by 30% to get approximately what you will pay each month for rent.

Where can I Live?

You can use your Housing Choice Voucher to find a home anywhere in the United States. However, some local housing agencies require that you live in their jurisdiction during the first year of your assistance if you were not a resident at initial application. You must work with your local housing agency to transfer to another area.

Repairs to the Unit

The lease should state who is responsible for making repairs while you are in the unit. Beyond the normal and tear, tenants may be held responsible for fixing problems that are tenant-caused. Landlords may be responsible for all other repairs.

Termination of Assistance

The housing agency can deny assistance for an applicant, or terminate their assistance, for any of the following reasons:

  • If the family violates any family obligation.
  • Any member of the family has ever been evicted from public housing.
  • If a housing agency has ever terminated the assistance for any member of the family.
  • If any member of the family commits drug-related criminal activity or violent criminal activity.
  • If any member of the family commits fraud, bribery or any other corrupt or criminal act in connection with any federal housing program.
  • If the family currently owes rent or other amounts to the housing agency or to another housing agency in connection with the Housing Choice Voucher program or public housing.
  • If the family has not reimbursed any housing agency for any amounts paid to an owner under HAP contract for rent, damages to the unit, or other amounts owed under the lease.
  • If the family breaches an agreement with housing agency to pay amount owed to a housing agency or amount paid to an owner by a housing agency.

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