What is the Housing Choice Voucher program?
The actual name of the program commonly known as “Section 8” is the Housing Choice Voucher Program. It is a federally funded program that subsidizes rents for eligible participants who rent units in the private market. It is designed to assist very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled to rent decent, safe and sanitary housing. A housing subsidy is paid directly to the landlord on behalf of a participating family. Adams County Housing Authority (ACHA) administers the program for Adams County, PA.
Who is eligible?
Eligibility is based on total annual gross income and family size. Also, it is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. ACHA has income guidelines issued by HUD to determine eligible status. Click here to download income guidelines for our area. Once your name reaches the top of the waiting list, you will be notified by mail. Your income and housing status must be updated at this time to determine eligibility.
When do I get my voucher?
If you are eligible you will be required to attend a briefing meeting, where the program is explained in its entirety. A voucher will be issued at this time, based on the bedroom size for which your family qualifies. Once the voucher is issued, you have 60 days to find a place to rent. Once you've found an apartment or house that meets your needs in terms of size, location and cost, you and the owner fill out a Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA). The RFTA contains the information that we'll need to begin the process of getting you moved in to your new home. Please make sure that you complete the entire packet and that both you and the owner sign it.Once the RFTA has been received criminal background checks will be completed on all adult household members. ACHA will also make sure that your selected unit passes a Rent Reasonableness comparison. Once this has been determined, an inspection will be set up with the landlord. The rental unit must meet HUD’s Housing Quality Standards. HQS were developed to insure that all homes leased under the program will be safe, decent and sanitary. If the unit passes inspection, a lease must be signed by the tenant and owner/agent, and a Housing Assistance Payments contract is signed by the owner/agent to allow payments to be made directly to the owner/agent.
How much rent will I have to pay?
At the briefing, you will learn how the amount of your rental subsidy is calculated based on the Payment Standards as determined by HUD. Click here for current payment standards. You can choose a unit with a rent that is above or below the payment standard. You must pay 30% of your monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities. HUD rules require that when a family that moves into a new unit they cannot pay more than 40% of their adjusted monthly income for rent. You pay your share to the owner on the first of the month just like you would if you didn't have a voucher. The rest of the rent will be sent to the owner directly by ACHA.
How long do I have to stay in the unit that I choose?
You will sign a lease with the landlord for at least one (1) year. After the first year, the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow you to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease.
Will the rent increase?
After the first year, owners can request rent increases.
What if there is a change in my family?
The lease lists all of the people who will live in your home. You, ACHA, and the landlord must agree in writing to add or subtract people from your household. The owner is not obligated to allow you to add family members, unless someone already on your lease has a child through birth, adoption, custody agreement or foster care.
What if there is a change in my income?
Any time the household income changes; you must notify ACHA in writing within thirty days, in order to appropriately review your share of the rent. You could owe ACHA money if you don't report the income changes right away. This is very important -- you could lose your voucher if you don't tell ACHA about changes to your family's income.
What if I want to move?
You must remain in the rental unit for at least one year. Leases renew automatically unless you or the owner gives a written notice that you do not want to renew. This notice must be given in advance, as spelled out in your lease. If you decide to move you must sign a 30-day Notice to Vacate and present it to you landlord at least 30 days prior to the end of your lease.
Can I move out of Adams County?
Yes. A Housing Choice Voucher holder may take the voucher anywhere in the United States where a Public Housing Authority administers a tenant-based voucher program. This process is called portability. Certain funding restrictions may apply. Please contact your caseworker if you wish to move to another area.
Where can I read the Admin Plan for this program?
You can read a copy of the Admin Plan at the office on 40 East High Street or you can click here for an online version.
Housing Choice Voucher Program