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The Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as "Section 8") is a federally funded housing program that provides rental assistance to eligible families based on family size and household income. This assistance provides families with alternative housing choices and opportunities to achieve rent in the broader housing market. Without the valuable tools of the Program, the financial ability of many low wealth families may prevent them from keeping pace with rising rental housing costs and thereby live in areas where there is a significant concentration of poverty. The Program also seeks to encourage families to achieve economic independence and self-sufficiency.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") determines the overall manner in which the Program will operate, and has many rules and regulations to assist in the broad guidance of the Program. Housing authorities are provided some latitude in establishing their own policies and procedures to ensure the smooth operation of the Program given local housing and other conditions. MHB's policies and procedures are in its Housing Choice Administrative Plan.
Locally, success of this program depends on the establishment of strong public-private partnerships between MHB and private property owners and landlords. MHB seeks to recruit and maintain suitable owners/landlords to the Program. One key element of the Program is the ability to contract with property managers and owners who have housing units that meet HUD’s minimum housing quality standards ("HQS") of decent, safe and sanitary housing. MHB inspects units to determine that the minimum HQS standards are met. Many low- and very low-income families rely on landlords who are willing to participate in the Program. Participating families include elderly persons, disabled persons, single persons with no dependents, working families, and families with marginal income.
Each family must apply for the Program and meet HUD’s income limits in order to qualify for assistance.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a three-way partnership between the family, the owner/landlord and the housing authority. In order for the program to work, MHB has the following responsibilities:
- Accept applications
- Determine eligibility of applicants
- Issue Housing Choice Vouchers and conduct briefings
- Recruit owners/landlords
- Inspect/re-inspect units (initially and at least once annually)
- Approve leases and the owner
- Make timely housing assistance payments
- Ensure continued eligibility of family
- Ensure compliance of rules and regulations by owners and families
- Offer and conduct hearings
Housing Quality Standards ("HQS") have been set by HUD to ensure that assisted units meet minimum health and safety standards. HQS consists of (a) performance requirements, and (b) acceptability criteria or HUD approved variations in the acceptability criteria. Please contact MHB for a copy of HUD Form 52580 (Inspection Form). MHB requires additional standards in compliance with the local City Code and Fire Code regarding window screens, screen doors, smoke alarms, etc.
Most Common Items That Fail Inspection?
- Inoperable smoke alarms (batteries dead or missing)
- Missing or cracked electrical outlet cover plates
- Railings not present where required (handrails for steps most commonly required)
- Deteriorated paint surfaces (i.e.,. peeling, cracking, flaking paint on exterior and interior surfaces (Lead-based paint is an issue for all units built prior to 1-1-78, specifically with a child under age 6 in the family.)
- Tripping hazards caused by permanently installed floor coverings (carpet/vinyl)
- Cracked or broken window panes
- Inoperable burners on stoves or inoperable range hoods
- Missing burner control knobs
- Defective refrigerator gaskets (broken seal allowing air to escape)
- Leaking faucets or other plumbing
- No temperature/pressure relief valve on water heaters
- No insulation around front and back doors (Ensure no outside light can be seen when doors are closed.)