Apply for Tenant-Based Housing Voucher

Housing Choice Vouchers (or Section 8 Vouchers) allow low-income families to lease or purchase safe and affordable housing. There are two types of Housing Choice Vouchers: tenant-based, and project-based. Tenant-based vouchers allow recipients to choose where they live, whereas project-based vouchers are restricted to specific housing complexes. This article explains how to apply for a tenant-based voucher.

To qualify for a Housing Choice Voucher, your income must not exceed the low-income limits where you intend to live. The PHA will evaluate your household income against low-income limits as established by HUD. To begin the application process you'll need to apply in person at your local PHA. Upon completing your application you will then be placed on a waiting list. The waiting period can be lengthy, so it's important seek other forms of assistance while waiting for a voucher to become available. Once you've reached the top of the PHA's Housing Choice Voucher waiting list, your application will be reviewed and, if still eligible, you will go through a briefing process where the guidelines of the HCVP are discussed.

Once you have received a voucher, it is your responsibility to locate a unit that meets all HUD guidelines. You will need to locate a housing unit that meets safety guideline and has a reasonable rent. The PHA will then execute an HAP contract with the property owner. This agreement authorizes the PHA to make rental payments on the your behalf. If you relocate, the contract with the property owner is terminated, but you can continue to receive support so long as the new unit meets HUD guidelines.

The advantage to tenant-based vouchers is that you do not have to lease a unit within the jurisdiction of the issuing PHA. Any housing unit in the entire United States is eligible, so long as there is a PHA operating the HCVP in that area. However, keep in mind that your income must not exceed the income limits of the area you where live. Once you are in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, be sure to check income limits of any area you intend to relocate to.

Use this diagram to guide you through the application process.

Diagram of HCVP Application Process

Diagram of HCVP Application Process

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