The Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

The housing choice voucher program (HCV) is a federal tenant based rental assistance program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.

Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority (NNRHA) administers a housing choice voucher program. NNRHA receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program.

How do I apply?

Applications are only accepted when the Housing Authority’s wait list is open for application.  NNRHA will advertise in the local section of the Daily Press and on our website when the list is opened for appointments to apply.  The demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local housing agencies.  Therefore, even after applying, you may be placed on a wait list if found eligible.

Eligibility

Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the HA based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. 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, your employer and bank, and will use the information to determine program eligibility and the amount of the housing assistance payment.

If the Housing Authority determines that your family is eligible, the HA will put your name on a waiting list, unless it is able to assist you immediately. Once your name is reached on the waiting list, the HA will contact you and issue you a housing voucher.

Voucher Issuance

A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family's choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. This unit may include the family's present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the Housing Authority.

The family is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program. In order to successfully lease a unit the following three elements must be in place:  The family must not be required to pay more than 40% of their adjusted gross income toward their rent and utility obligations, the rent for the unit selected must be determined to be reasonable, and the unit must pass a housing quality standards (HQS) inspection.

A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the Housing Authority (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.

Obligations and Responsibilities

After a participant has successfully located a unit for which they are approved, the family and the landlord sign a lease and, at the same time, the landlord and the HA sign a housing assistance payments contract that runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone -- tenant, landlord and HA -- has obligations and responsibilities under the voucher program.

Tenant's Obligations: 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 is usually required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. The lease should contain renewal terms.  If the lease does not specify renewal terms, in Virginia, the lease automatically renews on a month to month basis.

When the family is settled in a new home, the family is expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay their 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 Obligations: 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 quality 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.

Housing Authority's Obligations: The HA administers the voucher program locally. The HA provides a family with the housing assistance that enables the family to seek out suitable housing and the HA enters into a contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet the owner's obligations under the lease, the HA has the right to terminate assistance payments. The HA must reexamine the family's income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least biennially to ensure that it meets minimum housing quality standards.

Moving with a voucher

A family's housing needs change over time with changes in family size, job locations, and for other reasons. The housing choice voucher program is designed to allow families to move without the loss of housing assistance. Participants must fulfill the obligations of their current lease in order to be permitted to move with continued assistance.

Under the voucher program, new voucher-holders may choose a unit anywhere in the United States if the family lived in the jurisdiction of the HA issuing the voucher when the family applied for assistance. Those new voucher-holders not living in the jurisdiction of the HA at the time the family applied for housing assistance must initially lease a unit within that jurisdiction for the first twelve months of assistance. This is called portability.

Relevant Links for HCV

Owner and Agent Portal Access for Managing their NNRHA HCV Property Accounts

GoSection8 - Find local HCV (Section 8) Housing Availability