What is A Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8)?
The Housing Choice Voucher Program in Grand Prairie is administered by the City of Grand Prairie Housing Neighborhood Services under the Housing Services Division. The Housing Services Division receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program. A family that is issued a rental voucher is responsible for finding and selecting a suitable rental unit of the family’s choice. This unit may include the family’s present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by HA. A rental subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by HA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.
AM I ELIGIBLE?
Eligibility for a rental voucher is determined by HA; based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to U.S. citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, the family’s income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county in which the family chooses to live. Median income levels are published by HUD and vary by location. See Housing Inspections for more information on areas the Grand Prairie Housing Services Division serves.
During the application process, the HA will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. The HA will verify this information with other local agencies, such as employer and bank and will use the information to determine program eligibility and the amount of the rental assistance payment.
If the HA determines that a family is eligible, the HA will place the head of household name on a waiting list (depending if the waiting list is open). Once the head of household name is reached on the waiting list, the HA will contact that person and issue them a rental voucher.
How Do I Apply?
If you are interested in applying for the Housing Choice Voucher Program please CONTACT US for more information. Currently the waiting list is closed. We are not taking application.
Federal Preferences and Waiting List –What are they and how do they affect me?
As part of the Supplemental Appropriations Act for 2009 Congress appropriated $80 million for Housing Choice Vouchers to be administered by public housing authorities (PHAs) that agree to give preference to families displaced by Katrina and Rita. Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local housing agencies, long waiting periods are common. In fact, a HA may close its waiting list when it has more families on the list than can be assisted in the near future. The Grand Prairie Housing Services office does not have federal preferences in accordance with our Housing Choice Voucher administrative plan.
Rental Vouchers – How do they work?
The Housing Choice voucher program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. A very low-income family who has been selected by the HA to participate is encouraged to consider several housing choices to secure the best rental housing for its needs. The rental unit must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before the HA can approve payments to landlords under the voucher program. When the voucher holder finds a unit that it wishes to occupy and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the HA must inspect the dwelling and review the lease for approval. A rental voucher holder is also advised of the unit size for which it is eligible, based on family size and composition, and the applicable rent levels.
The HA determines a payment standard which is used to calculate the amount of rental assistance a family will receive, but does not affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family may pay. A family which receives a rental voucher can select a unit which rents below or above the payment standard. The rental voucher family must pay more than 30% of its monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities if the unit rent is greater than the payment standard. However, the family would pay less than 30% of its monthly adjusted gross income if the total rent was less than the payment standard.
The Rent Subsidy
Under the Housing Choice voucher program, a family may choose a unit that rents for more than the payment standard and may pay more or less than 30% of its monthly adjusted gross income for rent. The HA calculates the maximum amount of rental assistance allowable, which is the difference between the payments standard and 30% of the family’s monthly adjusted gross income, and pays rental assistance. The amount of rental assistance paid by the HA changes with the payment standard while the amount the tenant pays varies with the actual rent. For example, if a family locates a unit that rents below the payment standard, the family would pay less than 30% of its monthly adjusted gross income for rent. On the other hand, if a family decides to rent a unit above the payment standard, it would pay over 30% of its monthly adjusted gross income for rent. The family’s rent share also changes when its income or family circumstances change. New Voucher holder may not pay over 40% of their income towards rent.
CAN I MOVE AND CONTINUE TO RECEIVE HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER ASSISTANCE?
A family’s housing needs change over time with changes in family size, job locations, and other reasons. The Housing Choice Voucher Program is designed to allow families to move without the loss of rental assistance. Moves are permissible as long as the family notifies the HA ahead of time, terminates its existing lease within the appropriate provisions, and finds acceptable alternate housing. You may learn more about using your voucher in another county by reading the Request for Portability document.
Under the Voucher Program, new voucher-holders may choose a unit anywhere in the United States if the family lived within the jurisdiction of the HA issuing the voucher when the family applied for assistance. Those new voucher-holders not living within the jurisdiction of the HA at the time the family applies for rental assistance must initially lease a unit within that jurisdiction for the first twelve months of assistance. A family that wishes to move to another HA’s jurisdiction must consult with the HA that currently administers it rental assistance to verify the procedures for moving.
- ROLES – THE TENANT, THE LANDLORD, THE HOUSING AGENCY, AND HUD
Once an HA approves an eligible family’s lease and housing unit, the family and the landlord sign a lease and, at the same time, the landlord and the HA sign a housing assistance contract which runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone — tenant, landlord and HA — has obligations and responsibilities within the voucher program.
- Tenant’s Role: When a family selects a housing unit, and the HA approves the unit and lease, the family signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. After the first year the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease.When the family is settled in a new home, the family is expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements:
- pay its share of rent on time,
- maintain the unit in good condition and
- notify the HA of any changes in income or family composition.
- Landlord’s Role: The role of the landlord in the voucher program is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program’s housing standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with the HA.
- HA’s Role
The HA administers the voucher program locally. The HA provides a family with the rental assistance that enables the family to seek out suitable housing and the HA enters into a contract with the landlord to provide rental assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet his/her obligations under the lease, the HA has the right to terminate assistance payments.HUD’s Role: To cover the cost of the program, HUD provides funds to allow HAs to make housing assistance payments on behalf of the families. HUD also pays the HA a fee for the costs of administering the program. When additional funds become available to assist new families, HUD invites HAs to submit applications for funds for additional rental vouchers. Applications are then reviewed and funds awarded to the selected HAs on a competitive basis.