Housing Choice Voucher Applicants and Participants:
Q: What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
A: Sometimes called “freedom of choice program,” Section 8, or Section 8 Voucher Program, the Housing Choice Voucher Program is the federal government’s major program for assisting low-income families/persons to pay their rent in private market rental units.
Q: How do I qualify for the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
A: You qualify for the program if your annual gross income is within the limits established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (see Housing Choice Voucher Program Section of this site for current limits), are a U.S. citizen or have eligible immigration status, pass a criminal background check, do not owe another Housing Authority money from previous assistance, or were never evicted from any rental assistance program. If you are a single person, you must be 18 years of age to complete the application.
Q: How do I apply for the program?
A: Applications are available at the Housing Authority office or they will be mailed upon request. State-issued birth certificates (no photocopies) and Social Security cards will be needed for all members of the household at the initial appointment. Also, at the initial appointment a current driver’s license or state-issued photo identification will be required for all adult (18 years of age or older) members of the household. To request an application, call (402) 463-1061 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Q: How much will my Housing Voucher be worth?
A: The Housing Voucher is not money or a piece of paper for money. The Housing Voucher is a form that you sign which provides you with a minimum of sixty (60) days to find a rental unit. This unit must qualify according to your income, and the landlord must be willing to participate in the program.
Q: Will the Housing Authority help pay my rental or utility deposit?
A: The Hastings Housing Authority does not help with deposits. You will have to pay whatever the landlord requires for a deposit and a pet deposit, if applicable. You will also be responsible to pay the utility deposit.
Q: How much will I have to pay for rent?
A: Generally speaking, you will be required to pay a minimum of 30 percent of your adjusted gross income for the gross rent. The gross rent is the amount the landlord is requiring for the rent each month and the amount of the utility allowance. If you are required to pay any utilities, the Hastings Housing Authority has a utility allowance that is computed on an annual basis using current utility rates.
Q: Will the Housing Authority give me the money to give to my landlord?
A: No. The Housing Authority portion of the rent is paid directly to the landlord each month.
Q: What happens if my income changes or a family member moves in or out after I begin receiving rental assistance?
A: When there are any changes in your income or family composition, you are required to notify the Hastings Housing Authority immediately. The Housing Authority will then determine if an adjustment in the rent portions is required. You must receive approval from the Hastings Housing Authority and the landlord before you move anyone else in the unit once the subsidy has begun.
Q: How often is my household income reviewed?
A: Federal regulations require that the Housing Authority review your household income, family composition, and inspect the unit annually. If there are any charges between annual appointments the client is required to report this. You will receive notification from the Housing Authority prior to your anniversary date that you will have to complete another review of your income and family composition. If you fail to respond to the notification, your rental assistance will then be terminated. You will also be notified when an annual inspection will need to be completed. If you fail to respond to the notification or fail to schedule an inspection time, your rental assistance will then be terminated.
Q: How long can I get rent subsidy?
A: Once you are on the program, you may receive rental assistance as long as you are income eligible and you fulfill your tenant obligations established by HUD and the Housing Authority.
Q: Can I move and continue to receive assistance?
A: 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. Moves are permissible as long as the family notifies the Hastings Housing Authority ahead of time, terminates its existing lease within the lease provisions, does not owe money to the current landlord, has not violated the Statement of Family Obligations, and finds acceptable alternate housing.
Under the voucher program voucher-holders may choose a unit anywhere in the United States, provided there is an authority that administers a HCV program at that location. The HUD term for the ability to move outside the Hastings Housing Authority’s jurisdiction with rental assistance is portability. To exercise the portability factor of the program, you must have completed a one-year lease on the Housing Choice Voucher program in Hastings and you will need to contact the Hastings Housing Authority for consultation to verify the procedures for moving.
Q: What are the tenant obligations?
A: When a person/family selects a housing unit and signs a lease with a landlord, the Hastings Housing Authority approves the lease, inspects the unit, and the landlord signs a Housing Assistance Payments Contract with the Housing Authority. The tenant will be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. After the first year, the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month basis. When the family is settled into the rental unit, the family is expected to comply with the lease and program requirements, pay its share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good and sanitary condition, and notify the Hastings Housing Authority of any changes in income or family composition.
Q: What will my landlord’s obligations be?
A: The role of the landlord in the Housing Choice 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 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 Hastings Housing Authority.
Q: What are Housing Quality Standards?
A: The Housing Quality Standards are minimum dwelling unit requirements the Hastings Housing Authority uses when the inspections are completed. The standards were established by HUD and local code.
Q: What are the Housing Authority Obligations?
A: The Hastings Housing Authority administers the voucher program locally. The Hastings Housing Authority provides a family with housing assistance which enables the family to seek suitable housing. Once located, the Hastings Housing Authority 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 Hastings Housing Authority has the right to terminate assistance payments. The family’s income and composition must be reviewed at least annually and the dwelling unit inspected at least biennially to ensure that it meets minimum housing quality standards.
Q: What other housing options are available?
A: The Hastings Housing Authority administers only the Housing Choice Voucher Program. There are other units in Hastings that also provide rent subsidy to low-income individuals/families. These are units built by owners specifically for low-income individuals/families. The current projects in town are Goldbeck Towers, Heritage Manor and Autumn Park Apartments for the elderly or disabled individuals or families. Lee Townhouses and Lincoln Townhouses are the units built for families. Since these facilities are not affiliated with the Hastings Housing Authority, if you have interest in these facilities, you will have to contact them directly.