1. What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
The Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8) provides tenant-based assistance, in the form of a voucher, to low-income families, for rental units of their choice in the private market. Program applicants choose from a variety of housing options, including apartments, duplexes, single-family homes and townhomes. Vouchers can also be used to help families buy homes.
2. How does the Housing Choice Voucher Program work?
Program participants issued a housing voucher are responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of their choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. The unit may include the participant’s present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the Houston Housing Authority.
A housing subsidy is paid to the property owner directly by the Housing Authority on behalf of the participant. The participant then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the property owner and the amount subsidized by the program. A participant’s rent is usually about 30 percent of their monthly income.
3. What are the requirements to be in this program?
Income eligibility limits for the voucher program are set by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as percentages of the local area median income. The incomes below are the maximum household income based on the number of family members in the household. Only applicants who meet the following income limits are eligible.
4. I’ve received the postcard with my lottery number, what should I do next?
Keep the postcard with your lottery number in a safe place. When your lottery number is serviced, you will receive a Housing Choice Voucher packet in the email. The packet will give you detailed information and forms to complete and return. Please read the entire packet carefully and make sure you send back all necessary information by the deadline designated in the packet. If you have trouble reading or understanding the information in the packet, contact the Housing Authority for assistance. Remember the wait time for a qualified applicant may take several years and is dependent on the availability of vouchers.
5. Once my lottery number has been selected what happens?
You will receive a Housing Choice Voucher packet in the email, which will give you detailed information and forms to complete and return. Please read the entire packet carefully and make sure you send back all necessary information by the deadline designated in the packet. If you have trouble reading or understanding the information in the packet, contact the Housing Authority for assistance.
6. After I email in my packet, when can I expect to be called in for an interview?
Upon receipt of your information, the Houston Housing Authority will begin the verification process. Once your information is successfully verified, you will receive a letter with a date for a voucher briefing appointment.
7. What will the interview process be like?
During the interview, you will be asked to complete a series of documents verifying that you are eligible. A criminal background check is conducted to verify that no household members have been arrested for drug or violent crimes. Registered sex offenders and anyone convicted of manufacturing methamphetamines in public housing are not eligible. You are then issued a Housing Choice Voucher after attending a briefing on how best to utilize the voucher.
8. If I don’t answer all the questions in the packet, will it still be accepted?
It is very important that all of the documents in the packet are completed. The Housing Authority will verify with a third party (i.e. employer, etc.) to make sure that the information submitted is correct. Failure to return these complete documents will result in your withdrawal from the Housing Choice Voucher waiting list.
9. What if someone in my family does not have a Social Security number/card?
It is required that Social Security cards are submitted for everyone in your household if they have a Social Security number. If any family member does not have a Social Security number, they must submit a signed certification that they have no number. If you cannot find your card or you’ve never had a Social Security number, we will accept copies of documents that show your proof of eligible immigration status.
10. What if someone in my family does not have a photo I.D.?
It is required that photo I.D.’s are submitted for everyone in your household over the age of 18. There are no exceptions.
11. What if someone in my family does not have a birth certificate?
It is required that either birth certificates or passports be submitted for everyone in your household. The only exceptions are children under 6 years old. If you cannot get the identification needed by your designated deadline, we will accept receipts of purchase showing that you’ve purchased a replacement birth certificate.
12. One of the forms asks me for a “Housing Choice Voucher Client number.” What if I don’t have one?
If you don’t have a Housing Choice Voucher Client number, you can write in your lottery number instead.
13. One of the forms asks me about “Disposal of Assets Certification.” What is an asset?
An asset is anything that you own, which can increase in value. This can mean, but is not limited to, your home, investments, family/personal businesses, etc.
14. One of the forms says “less than fair market value.” What is fair market value?
Fair market value is what your assets are worth today.
15. Does filling out the packet guarantee that I will receive a voucher?
No. We use the information to verify eligibility for the program before scheduling you for a voucher briefing.
16. How does a voucher help me in paying my rent?
As a program participant, generally, you pay 30% of your adjusted monthly income for rent and the Housing Authority pays the balance to the owner.
17. How much can the voucher pay towards my rent?
You will be informed of the Payment Standard for your household size and income prior to the issuance of your voucher.
18. If my address or family income changes while I’m on the waiting list, what should I do?
You must notify the Housing Authority in writing of any change of address or in a change of family composition. Please include your Social Security number on any correspondence sent to us. Changes will be made prior to contacting applicants about their placement on the waiting list.
If you need to make updates to your application, their agency has implemented a secure, web-based Applicant Portal tool in an effort to better serve Housing Choice Voucher applicants currently on its program waitlist. The portal allows applicants to access and update their waiting list status information.
If you do not notify the Housing Authority in writing of a change of address and any correspondence sent to you is returned, or if you do not respond to a scheduled appointment or any request for additional information, you will be removed from the waiting list and you will need to wait until the waiting list is open again to apply.
19. What is the process for transferring “Porting” my Housing Choice Voucher to Houston?
Housing Choice Voucher Program participants can take their vouchers with them if they move (port) within the U.S. to another area with a Housing Choice Voucher Program. The Voucher Program participant MUST notify the Housing Authority where they currently live that they want to utilize the Portability option of the voucher to transfer to Houston or from Houston to another city of their choice. Once the portability request is approved, your PHA issues the family a voucher and must contact the Houston Housing Authority on the family’s behalf. Your PHA must promptly notify the Houston Housing Authority to expect the incoming family. This means your PHA contacts the Houston Housing Authority on the family’s behalf, typically by telephone, fax, or email. Simply referring the family to HUD or to a website for information on the Houston Housing Authority’s address does not fulfill the responsibilities of your PHA under the program regulations.
All Portability paperwork should be sent by your Housing Authority to the Houston Housing Authority either by the fax number listed below or sent U.S. post to the address below.
Houston Housing Authority
2640 Fountain View Dr., Ste. 100
Houston, TX 77057
The required paperwork should include:
- HUD-52665 Family Portability Information Form
- Client’s current voucher
- Current 50058 Form
- Client’s current income verifications
- Client contact address and phone number
After all of the client’s portability information is received by the Houston Housing Authority, they will receive an appointment by mail within 2 weeks.
If you live in Houston and wish to port out, please complete the Request to Transfer Form. It is also available at the receptionist’s desk in our first-floor lobby.
20. What protection do I have as a tenant if the property I reside in is being foreclosed?
Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act-Guidance on New Tenant Protections
21. How much is my voucher worth?
The value of your voucher is determined by the number of bedrooms you need, based on the size of your household. These are called the “Payment Standards”. The Payment Standards are adjusted each year around the first of January to reflect changes in the rental market. The Payment Standards for this year are:
*Please note that these payment standards are for new or newly renovated apartments with all utilities included. Adjustments are made to account for tenant utility costs and apartment condition, age and amenities.
22. Does HHA have any admissions preferences?
Yes, please click here to view our preferences.
23. I have a question that was not answered. Who can I talk to?
Our website includes detailed information. You can also contact the Housing Choice Voucher Call Center at 713.260.0600.