Thank you for your interest in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. This information has been prepared to acquaint owners and managers with opportunities available under the program and to answer any questions regarding participation.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the federal government’s major housing assistance program helping very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. Because housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.
The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program.
Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by the Hastings Housing Authority (HHA). HHA receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program.
A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family’s choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by HHA.
A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the HHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.
Lease Up Process
HHA takes applications from persons eligible for the program and places them on a waiting list. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age. HHA preferences those displaced by a federally declared natural disaster, the elderly, disabled, veterans and families with children. Applicants are placed on the waiting list according to preference and date and time of application to fit the participant’s needs.
Whenever a current recipient leaves the program, the next eligible family on the waiting list is selected for assistance. After a family is selected and approved, the following sequence occurs:
- HHA issues the eligible family a voucher and explains what they must do to rent a unit.
- The family locates a rental unit.
- The family and owner discuss the rental terms and the lease and complete the Request for Tenancy Approval.
- When the unit is ready to rent, an appointment is scheduled for HHA to inspection the unit. The unit is inspected to insure it is in compliance with Housing Quality Standards (HQS).
- If the unit fails the inspection, the owner must correct the defect(s). HHA cannot start rent payments unit a unit has passed inspection and the tenant is living in the unit.
- After the unit passes inspection and once the executed lease is returned to HHA, the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract will be mailed to the owner for signatures, and the notice to the tenant stating their rent portion will be sent to the tenant. Once the HAP contract is returned to HHA, the payment will be mailed to the owner.
- Each month, the tenant pays approximately 30-40 percent of their income toward rent to the owner. HHA will send the Housing Assistance Payment directly to the owner on the first business day of the month.
- Beginning March 1, 2017, all new landlords will be required to use direct deposit. A Direct Deposit Authorization form is included in the packet.
The owner is responsible for performing all of the owner’s obligations under the HAP contract and the lease.
The owner also is responsible for:
- Performing all management and rental functions for the assisted unit, including selecting a voucher holder to lease the unit and deciding if the family is suitable for tenancy of the unit. HHA’s role is to determine if a tenant is eligible for the Housing Choice Voucher Program only. We do this by verifying the tenant’s income, family composition and previous program participation to meet the program rules.
- Maintaining the unit in accordance with Housing Quality Standards (HQS), including performance of ordinary and extraordinary maintenance.
- Complying with equal opportunity requirements.
- Preparing and furnishing to HHA information required under the HAP contract.
- Collecting the security deposit from the tenant, the tenant portion of rent and any charges for unit damage by the family.
- Enforcing tenant obligations under the lease. The lease is between the landlord and the tenant.
- Paying for utilities and services (unless paid by the family under the lease).
- Making any necessary modifications to a dwelling if necessary to meet a reasonable accommodation. For provisions on modifications to a dwelling unit occupied or to be occupied by a person with disabilities see 24 CFR 100.203.
- The owner is responsible for notifying the HHA sixty (60) days prior to any rent increase.
- Notifying HHA of any lease violations or apparent abandonment.