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Housing Choice Voucher

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a rental assistance program, which makes it possible for low and moderate-income families to obtain adequate rental while paying no more than 40% of the annual adjusted income toward rent and utilities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds the program, But is locally administered by the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority for this county. There is now one form of assistance, this being the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The Subsidy is tied to the family, not to a Particular unit. If the family moves, they take the subsidy with them.

Generally, it works this way:

The family makes application with the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority for participation in the program. Their name is placed on a waiting list until Funds are available to assist their need. Applications are not taken all the time, but only on an advertised date, usually once per year. The date and time of applications being taken are posted at all agencies, post office, banks and public housing units, as well as, in the classified section of the local newspaper.

When the family reaches the top of the waiting list and if they meet Requirements they are notified to come in for a briefing and information on Eligibility. At the briefing, an appointment will be scheduled to verify all aspects of the application. At the scheduled appointment if the family meets the required criteria necessary for eligibility, they will be issued a Housing Choice Voucher.

The family is then free to seek a housing unit in Jefferson County that meets its Needs and satisfies the program requirements. For a unit to be eligible for inclusion under the program, it must be in the standard condition. New lease-ups under the Voucher program cannot exceed the agency payment standard for the appropriate bedroom size. If the gross rent for the unit is more than the applicable payment standard, the share of gross rent may not exceed the 40 % of the adjusted monthly income.

If the owner agrees to participate in the program, the Housing Authority must inspect and certify that the unit is in standard condition and meets the Housing Quality Standards established by HUD.

The owner and family negotiate and sign a 12 month lease for the unit. At the same time, The JMHA and the owner execute a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract, where by the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority pledges to make partial rental payments on behalf of the participating family.

The family occupies the unit, paying a maximum of 40% of its income for rent and the JMHA pays the difference between that amount and the actual contract rent of the unit. If the tenant income changes, the portion of the rent will be adjusted according to policy requirements. All payments are made directly to the property owner. The subsidized amount will be forwarded by JMHA and the tenant portion is to be collected by the property owner/manager.

All privately owned existing housing units in Jefferson County qualify for the program, provided they are in standard condition and have monthly rentals that meet the program's guidelines.

So long as the unit meets the guidelines cited above, each family selects their own unit. Owners determine if they wish to lease under the program.

The owner of the unit selects the tenant(s). The JMHA certifies family eligibility for the program. Owners can apply their selection criteria, including credit checks and previous rental history.

The initial lease is for a year. After the first year the lease is on a month to month basis. Owners are required to use a standard lease for all rental units. This lease must meet all Ohio State requirements and approved by the Section 8 Office. If you do not have a lease this office can provide a copy of one. Owners are required to use the Lease Addendum subscribed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After the first year, the family will be re-certified for eligibility and the lease can continues for the same unit.

YES, in the amount normally charged by the owner for ALL tenants, assisted and unassisted. Families are responsible for paying the Security Deposit. When a Tenant moves out the owner, subject to state or local law, may use the Security Deposit, including interest on the deposit, as a reimbursement for any damage to the unit, and/or other amounts the tenant owes under the lease. The owner must give the tenant a written list of all items and amounts charged against the security deposit within the time frame under Ohio State or local law.

No, not from the Housing Authority.

YES, eviction can be made in accordance with state and local laws. However, The Housing Authority must be notified in writing of the violations of the lease. If the family receives any eviction documents they must forward a copy to this office for the file. The Administrative Policy now includes a clause that subjects the assisted family to loss of Voucher funding due to eviction from the unit.

The JMHA determines family eligibility for participation in the program. The Office annually re-certifies program participants, inspects the unit for standard Condition and compliance with Housing Quality Standards, executes the HAP Contract with the owner and provides its portion of the rental payment at the first of the month, and provides on-going assistance, as necessary, to both families and owners participating in the program.

The provisions of the Housing Choice Voucher program require owners to:
  • Fulfill their obligations under the terms of the lease.
  • Perform all normal management’s functions.
  • Maintain the unit in standard condition and perform normal maintenance.
  • Adhere to Federal, State and local laws governing non-discrimination in housing.
  • (By the signature on the check each month, the owner certifies that the unit meets the HQS Standards).

Participating families must:
  • Pay their share of the rent on a timely basis.
  • Fulfill the other terms of their lease.
  • Maintain the unit in good condition.
  • Re-certify annually and anytime there is a change in family composition or income.

The Department of Housing and Urban Developments sets "Fair Market Rent" (FRM)s levels by geographic location and bedroom size. Generally, there are regarded as maximum limits for participation in the program.

Utilities may be included in the monthly rent or may be paid directly to the utility Company by the family. If the utilities are paid by the family, the rental price for The unit, plus an "allowance" for utilities cannot exceed the FRM market rent in The Voucher program.

YES, a yearly rental increase may be requested at the time the landlord Certification is mailed to the landlord, usually 60 days prior to the yearly re-Certification. Being that all Certificates have been, or are being converted to Vouchers the landlord may request (in writing) the increase wanted within the FRM range. This amount is agreed upon by the tenant. The increase is usually going to be the tenant's portion in increase.

JMHA Section 8 Housing Department
153 North 5th Street
Steubenville, Ohio 43952
740-282-0994 Ext. 200

Public Housing

Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. An HA determines your eligibility based on: 1) annual gross income; 2) whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family; and 3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. If you are eligible, the HA will check your references to make sure you and your family will be good tenants. HAs will deny admission to any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project's environment.

HAs use income limits developed by HUD. HUD sets the lower income limits at 80% and very low income limits at 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which you choose to live. Income limits vary from area to area so you may be eligible at one HA but not at another. The HA serving your community can provide you with the income levels for your area and family size, or you can also find the income limits here on the internet.

FY 2024 HUD Income Limits

Income Category Household Size
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Low-Income (80%) $44,800 $51,200 $57,600 $64,000 $69,150 $74,250 $79,400 $84,500
Very Low-Income (50%) $28,000 $32,000 $36,000 $40,000 $43,200 $46,400 $46,600 $52,800
Extremely Low-Income (30%) $16,800 $20,440 $25,820 $31,200 $36,580 $41,960 $47,340 $52,720

If you are interested in applying for public housing, contact your local HA. If you have trouble contacting the HA, contact the local HUD Field Office.

The application must be written. Either you or the HA representative will fill it out. An HA usually needs to collect the following information to determine eligibility:

  1. Names of all persons who would be living in the unit, their sex, date of birth, and relationship to the family head;
  2. Your present address and telephone number;
  3. Family characteristics (e.g., veteran) or circumstances (e.g., living in substandard housing) that might qualify the family for tenant selection preferences;
  4. Names and addresses of your current and previous landlords for information about your family's suitability as a tenant;
  5. An estimate of your family's anticipated income for the next twelve months and the sources of that income;
  6. The names and addresses of employers, banks, and any other information the HA would need to verify your income and deductions, and to verify the family composition; and
  7. The PHA also may visit you in your home to interview you and your family members to see how you manage the upkeep of you current home.
After obtaining this information, the HA representative should describe the public housing program and its requirements, and answer any questions you might have.

Yes, the HA representative will request whatever documentation is needed (e.g., birth certificates, tax returns) to verify the information given on your application. The PHA will also rely on direct verification from your employer, etc. You will be asked to sign a form to authorize release of pertinent information to the PHA.

An HA has to provide written notification. If the HA determines that you are eligible, your name will be put on a waiting list, unless the HA is able to assist you immediately. Once your name is reached on the waiting list, the HA will contact you. If it is determined that you are ineligible, the HA must say why and, if you wish, you can request an informal hearing.

If you are offered a house or apartment and accept it, you will have to sign a lease with the HA. You may have to give the HA a security deposit. You and the HA representative should go over the lease together. This will give you a better understanding of your responsibilities as a tenant and the HA's responsibilities as a landlord.

Sometimes there are. Giving preference to specific groups of families enables an HA to direct their limited housing resources to the families with the greatest housing needs. Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local HAs, long waiting periods are common. In fact, an HA may close its waiting list when there are more families on the list than can be assisted in the near future.

Each HA has the discretion to establish preferences to reflect needs in its own community. These preferences will be included in the HAs written policy manual. You should ask what preferences they honor so you will know whether you qualify for a preference.

Your rent, which is referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) in this program, would be based on your family's anticipated gross annual income less deductions, if any. HUD regulations allow HAs to exclude from annual income the following allowances: $480 for each dependent; $400 for any elderly family, or a person with a disability; and some medical deductions for families headed by an elderly person or a person with disabilities. Based on your application, the HA representative will determine if any of the allowable deductions should be subtracted from your annual income. Annual income is the anticipated total income from all sources received from the family head and spouse, and each additional member of the family 18 years of age or older.

The formula used in determining the TTP is the highest of the following, rounded to the nearest dollar:
  1. 30 percent of the monthly adjusted income. (Monthly Adjusted Income is annual income less deductions allowed by the regulations);
  2. 10 percent of monthly income;
  3. welfare rent, if applicable; or
  4. a $25 minimum rent or higher amount (up to $50) set by an HA.

An HA is responsible for the management and operation of its local public housing program. They may also operate other types of housing programs.

  1. On-going functions: (a) Assure compliance with leases. The lease must be signed by both parties; (b) Set other charges (e.g., security deposit, excess utility consumption, and damages to unit); (c) Perform periodic reexaminations of the family's income at least once every 12 months; (d) Transfer families from one unit to another, in order to correct over/under crowding, repair or renovate a dwelling, or because of a resident's request to be transferred; (e) Terminate leases when necessary; and (f) maintain the development in a decent, safe, and sanitary condition.
  2. Sometimes HAs provide other services, that might include such things as: homeownership opportunities for qualified families; employment training opportunities, and other special training and employment programs for residents; and support programs for the elderly.

In general, you may stay in public housing as long as you comply with the lease.

If, at reexamination your family's income is sufficient to obtain housing on the private market, the HA may determine whether your family should stay in public housing.