Albany Housing Authority - Albany, NY
 

Vouchers

HUD-VASH Program
The 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (the Act) (Public Law 110-161) enacted December 26, 2007, provided $75 million dollars of funding for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher program as authorized under section 8(o)(19) of the United Stated Housing Act of 1937. The HUD-VASH program combines HUD HCV rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Veterans Affairs at its medical centers and in the community.

The 2008 Appropriation required HUD to “make such funding available…to public housing agencies (PHAs) that partner with eligible VA Medical Centers (VAMC) or other entities as designated by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, based on geographical need for such assistance as identified by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, public housing agency administrative performance, and other factors as specified by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in consultation with the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

 

Tenant Based Vouchers

Q. What are tenant-based vouchers?
A. Tenant-based vouchers increase affordable housing choices for very low-income families. Families with a tenant-based voucher choose and lease safe, decent, and affordable privately-owned rental housing.

Q. What families are eligible to apply for tenant-based vouchers?
A. Very low-income families (i.e. families with incomes below 50% of area median income) and a few specific categories of families with incomes up to 80% of the area median income. These include families that are already assisted under the 1937 U.S. Housing Act, such as families physically displaced by public housing demolition, and owners opting out of project-based section 8 housing assistance payments (HAP) contracts. (HUD determines median income levels for each area annually.)

Q. How does a PHA determine if a family is income eligible?
A. The PHA compares the family’s annual income (gross income) with the HUD-established very low-income limit or low-income limit for the area. The family’s gross income cannot exceed this limit.

Q. How do families obtain tenant-based vouchers?
A. Families apply to be placed on the waiting list. When an eligible family comes to the top of the PHA’s housing choice voucher waiting list, the PHA issues a housing choice voucher to the family.

Q. How does a family obtain an apartment once they have a voucher?
A. It is the responsibility of a family to find a unit that meets their needs. If the family finds a unit that meets the housing quality standards, the rent is reasonable, and the unit meets other program requirements, the PHA executes a HAP contract with the property owner. This contract authorizes the PHA to make subsidy payments on behalf of the family. If the family moves out of the unit, the contract with the owner ends and the family can move with continued assistance to another unit.

Q. How much rent do vouchers cover?
A. The PHA pays the owner the difference between 30 percent of adjusted family income and a PHA determined payment standard or the gross rent for the unit, whichever is lower. The family may choose a unit with a higher rent than the payment standard and pay the owner the difference.

Q. Do families have to lease a unit in the jurisdiction where the PHA issued the voucher?
A. No. A family may choose a unit anywhere in the United States where there is a PHA that administers a tenant-based housing choice voucher program. However, the family may only use the voucher to lease a unit in an area where the family is income eligible at admission to the program.

 

Conversion Vouchers

Q. What are conversion vouchers?
A. Conversion vouchers assist PHAs with relocation or replacement housing needs that result from the demolition, disposition, or mandatory conversion of public housing units. Also, conversion vouchers include providing assistance to families living in section 8 projects for which the owner is opting out of the HAP contract, HUD is taking enforcement action against owners with project-based assistance, and projects for which the owner is prepaying the mortgage.

Q. How can families receive a conversion voucher?
A. If a family lives in a public housing unit that is scheduled to be demolished, disposed of or converted; they will be contacted by the PHA when they are eligible for a conversion voucher. Families living in projects that are affected by the owner’s decision to opt-out of a Section 8 project-based contract, or by the owner’s decision to prepay the mortgage, will be notified by the owner to contact the PHA.

Q. How does a PHA determine if a family is income eligible for a conversion voucher?
A. PHA compares the family’s annual income (gross income) with the HUD-established very low-income limit or low income limit for the area. The family cannot earn more than this limit. In the case of mortgage prepayments, moderate income families may be eligible for assistance.

Q. How do families obtain conversion vouchers?
A. Families that are affected by the conversion action will automatically receive a voucher if the family meets all other program requirements.

Q. How do families obtain an apartment once they have a voucher?
A. It is the responsibility of a family to find a unit that meets their needs. If the family finds a unit that meets the housing quality standards, the rent is reasonable, and the unit meets other program requirements, the PHA executes a HAP contract with the property owner. This contract authorizes the PHA to make subsidy payments on behalf of the family. If the family moves out of the unit, the contract with the owner ends and the family can move with continued assistance to another unit. In the case of a housing conversion action, the family also has the option to select to remain in the former project-based unit.

Q. How much rent do vouchers cover?
A. PHA pays the owner the difference between 30 percent of family income and PHA determined payment standard or the gross rent whichever is lower. In some cases (e.g., housing conversion actions) gross rent may be higher than the payment standard and the family will receive the benefit of an “enhanced” voucher.

Q. Do families have to lease a unit in the jurisdiction where the PHA issued the voucher?
A. No. A family may choose a unit anywhere in the United States where there is a PHA that administers a tenant-based voucher program. However, the family may only use the voucher to rent a unit in an area where the family is income eligible at admission to the program.

 

Homeownership Program

Q. If I am currently a participant in the Housing Choice Voucher program and receive rental assistance can I use my voucher to buy a home and receive monthly assistance in meeting homeownership expenses?
A. Yes, please contact your caseworker for more information.

Q. If I don’t have a rental voucher what do I do?
A. You have to apply for a housing choice voucher at the local PHA.

Q. What if the waiting list at the housing agency in my area is closed and the PHA is not accepting applications?
A. You can either wait until the waiting list opens up again, or you can apply in another jurisdiction where the waiting list is open. However, many PHA’s give a preference to residents of the community over non-residents, and you may be required to reside in the jurisdiction of that PHA for at least one year. You should ask the PHA in the area where you are applying about their residency preferences.

Q. If I get on a waiting list, how long do I have to wait?
A. Generally, waiting times can vary between several months and several years.

Q. If I get on a waiting list for a voucher, is there any special preference for me because I want to purchase a home?
A. No. There is no preference based on the fact that you desire to use your voucher for homeownership.

Q. Are there any standards for the home to be purchased under this program?
A. The home must pass an initial housing quality standards inspection conducted by the PHA and an independent home inspection before the PHA may approve the purchase by the family.

Q. What families are eligible to apply for homeownership vouchers?
A. Families must meet these requirements:

  • First-time homeowner or cooperative member.
  • No family member has owned or had ownership interest in their residence for at least three years.
  • Except for cooperative members, no member of the family has any ownership interest in any residential property.
  • Minimum income requirement. Except in the case of disabled families, the qualified annual income of the adult family members who will own the home must not be less than the Federal minimum hourly wage multiplied by 2,000 hours. For disabled families, the qualified annual income of the adult family members who will own the home must not be less than the monthly Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit for an individual living alone multiplied by 12. The PHA may also establish a higher minimum income requirement for either or both types of families. Except in the case of an elderly or disabled family, welfare assistance is not counted in determining whether the family meets the minimum income requirement.
  • Employment requirement. Except in the case of elderly and disabled families, one or more adults in the family who will own the home is currently employed on a full-time basis and has been continuously employed on a full-time basis for at least one year before commencement of homeownership assistance.
  • Additional PHA eligibility requirements. The family meets any other initial eligibility requirements set by the PHA.
  • Homeownership counseling. The family must attend and satisfactorily complete the PHA’s pre-assistance homeownership and housing counseling program.

Q. What are monthly homeownership expenses?
A. Monthly homeownership expenses include:
1. Mortgage principal and interest,
2. Mortgage insurance premium,
3. Real estate taxes and homeowner insurance,
4. PHA allowance for utilities,
5. PHA allowance for routine maintenance costs,
6. PHA allowance for major repairs and replacements,
7. Principal and interest on debt to finance major repairs and replacements for the home, and
8. Principal and interest on debt to finance costs to make the home accessible for a family member with disabilities if the PHA determines it is needed as a reasonable accommodation.

Q. How much financial assistance can PHAs provide in each voucher?
A. PHA uses its normal voucher program payment standard schedule to determine the amount of subsidy. The housing assistance payment (HAP) is the lesser of either the payment standard minus the total tenant payment or the family’s monthly homeownership expenses minus the total tenant payment. The PHA may make the HAP payment directly to the family or to the lender.

Q. What is the total monthly tenant payment?
A. For purposes of calculating the amount of financial assistance to be provided by the PHA, the monthly tenant payment is generally 30% of the family’s adjusted monthly income. For more information about how to determine total tenant payment contact your local PHA.

Q. What do I have to pay each month?
A. You have to pay at least the total tenant payment (approximately 30% of adjusted monthly income). However, if you purchase a home that has monthly expenses higher than those covered by the total of the financial assistance provided by the PHA together with the tenant payment (30% of income), any additional amount will have to be paid by the family. To keep families from purchasing a home that will result in a payment the family cannot afford, the PHA, may set affordability limits for their program.

Q. Do families have to purchase a home in the jurisdiction where the PHA issued the voucher?
A. No. Families that are eligible for homeownership assistance may purchase a home outside the initial jurisdiction if the PHA in the new jurisdiction administers the homeownership voucher program and receives new families into the program. However, the family may only use the voucher to purchase a unit in an area where the family is income eligible at admission to the program.

Q. How long can a family receive assistance under this program?
A. There is no time limit for an elderly household or a disabled family. For all other families, there is a mandatory term limit of 15 years if the initial mortgage incurred to finance purchase of the home has a term that is 20 years or longer, and for all other cases the maximum term of homeownership assistance is 10 years.

 

Project Based Vouchers

Q. What are project-based vouchers?
A. Project-based vouchers are a component of a public housing agencies (PHAs) housing choice voucher program. A PHA can attach up to 20 percent of its voucher assistance to specific housing units if the owner agrees to either rehabilitate or construct the units, or the owner agrees to set-aside a portion of the units in an existing development. Rehabilitated units must require at least $1,000 of rehabilitation per unit to be subsidized, and all units must meet HUD housing quality standards.

Q. What organizations are eligible to apply for project-based voucher funding from HUD?
A. There are no appropriations for this program and HUD does not allocate funding for project-based voucher assistance. Instead, funding for project-based vouchers comes from funds already obligated by HUD to a PHA under its annual contributions contract (ACC). The PHA can use up to 20 percent of its housing choice vouchers for project based vouchers.

Q. What families are eligible to obtain project-based vouchers?
A. Any eligible family on a PHA’s housing choice voucher waiting list that is interested in moving into the specific project. Owners select families for occupancy of a particular unit after screening each family.

Q. How do families obtain project-based vouchers?
A. PHAs refer families, who have already applied to a PHA for housing choice vouchers and are on the PHA’s waiting list, to properties that have project-based voucher assistance when units become vacant.

Q. How much rent do vouchers cover?
A. The PHA pays the owner the difference between 30 percent of family income and the gross rent for the unit.

Q. How are project-based vouchers different from tenant-based vouchers?
A. Under the tenant-based housing choice voucher program, the PHA issues an eligible family a voucher and the family selects a unit of its choice. If the family moves out of the unit, the contract with the owner ends and the family can move with continued assistance to another unit. Under the project-based voucher program, a PHA enters into an assistance contract with the owner for specified units and for a specified term. The PHA refers families from its waiting list to the project owner to fill vacancies. Because the assistance is tied to the unit, a family who moves from the project-based unit does not have any right to continued housing assistance. However, they may be eligible for a tenant based voucher when one becomes available.

Q. What type of contracts do PHAs sign with property owners under this program?
A. The PHA and the owner execute an agreement to enter into housing assistance payments (HAP) contract. Under this contract the owner agrees to construct or rehabilitate the units, and the PHA agrees to subsidize the units upon satisfactory completion of the rehabilitation or construction. Upon satisfactory completion of the rehabilitation or construction and for existing development, the PHA and the owner execute a HAP contract for a ten-year term that is dependent on availability of funding under the PHA’s ACC with HUD. The HAP contract establishes the initial rents for the units and the contract term, and describes the responsibilities of the PHA and the owner. HAP contracts can be renewed subject to availability of funding.

Q. How do PHA’s select units for inclusion in this program?
A. The PHA must adopt a written policy for selection of units to which assistance will be attached and must publicly advertise that it will accept owner proposals for the project-based voucher program. Generally, rents are set based upon market comparables and may not exceed 110% of the published existing housing fair market rents. Substandard rental housing is eligible if rehabilitation costs are at least $1,000 per unit. New construction of rental units is also eligible as well as standard existing housing. Rental units assisted under certain other Federal housing programs (e.g., rental rehabilitation, public housing) cannot be assisted with project-based voucher assistance.

 

Mainstream Vouchers

Q. What are mainstream program vouchers?
A. Mainstream program vouchers enable families having a person with disabilities to lease affordable private housing of their choice. Mainstream program vouchers also assist persons with disabilities who often face difficulties in locating suitable and accessible housing on the private market.

Q. What families are eligible to apply for mainstream program vouchers?
A. Only a family that includes a disabled person and is income eligible may receive a mainstream program voucher. Applicants will be selected from the PHA’s housing choice voucher waiting list.

Q. How does a PHA determine if a family is income eligible for the mainstream program vouchers?
A. The PHA compares the family’s annual income (gross income) with the HUD-established very low-income limit or low income limit for the area. The family’s gross income cannot exceed this limit.

Q. How do families obtain an apartment once they have a voucher?
A. It is the responsibility of a family to find a unit that meets their needs. If the family finds a unit that meets the housing quality standards, the rent is reasonable, and the unit meets other program requirements, the PHA executes a HAP contract with the property owner. This contract authorizes the PHA to make subsidy payments on behalf of the family. If the family moves out of the unit, the contract with the owner ends and the family can move with continued assistance to another unit.

Q. How much rent do vouchers cover?
A. The PHA pays the owner the difference between 30 percent of family income and PHA determined payment standard or gross rent whichever is lower. The family may choose a unit with a higher rent than the payment standard and pay the owner the difference.

Q. Do families have to lease a unit in the jurisdiction where the PHA issued the voucher?
A. No. A family may choose a unit anywhere in the United States where there is a PHA that administers a tenant based voucher program. However, the family may only use the voucher to lease a unit in an area where the family is income eligible at admission to the program.

 
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