HCVP FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS THE HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM?
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.
HOW DOES THE PROGRAM WORK?
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.
WHAT UNITS QUALIFY FOR THE PROGRAM?
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.
WHO SELECTS UNITS IN THE PROGRAM?
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.
WHO SELECTS THE TENANT IN 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.
WHAT ARE THE TERMS OF LEASE IN THE PROGRAM?
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.
DO FAMILIES PAY A SECURITY DEPOSIT UNDER THE HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM?
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.
ARE OWNERS ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE REIMBURSEMENT FOR TENANT DAMAGES, UNPAID RENT AND VACANCY LOSS?
No, not from the Housing Authority.
CAN THE OWNER EVICT FAMILIES WHO VIOLATE THE LEASE?
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.
WHAT ARE JMHA'S RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER THE PROGRAM?
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.
WHAT ARE THE OWNWE'S RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER 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).
WHAT ARE THE FAMILIES RESPONSIBILITES UNDER THE PROGRAM?
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.
WHO ESTABLISHES THE MONTHLY RENTALS FOR THE PROGRAM
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.
HOW ARE UTILITY COSTS HANDLED 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.
CAN RENTAL INCREASES BE OBTAINED THROUGH THE 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.
WHERE TO INQUIRE ABOUT THE HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM?
Jefferson Metro Housing Authority Section 8 Housing Department
153 North 5th Street
Steubenville, Ohio 43952
(740) 282-0994 Ext. 200