The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is intended to help families afford safe, decent and sanitary rental housing from private landlords. Eligible families are given a Voucher, which can be used to rent a house or an apartment from a participating landlord. Under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, the tenant will pay at least 30% but no more than 40% of their adjusted gross monthly income in rent at initial lease-up. The Authority pays the remainder of the negotiated rent directly to the Landlord under a Housing Assistance Payments Contract.
HOW TO APPLY FOR ASSISTANCE
Families who wish to apply for any of the Authority’s programs must complete a pre-application. The application process involves two phases. The first is the “initial” application for assistance, which results in the family’s placement on the waiting list. The second phase is the “final determination of eligibility”, which takes place when the family reaches the top of the waiting list. At that time, the Authority will verify all eligibility factors. Applications may be obtained by contacting this office or by downloading one from this website. All applications must be returned to this office in person or by mail with original signatures.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR SECTION 8 ASSISTANCE?
To be eligible for participation, an applicant must meet HUD’s criteria, as well as any other criteria established by the Housing Authority. One of the most important criteria is income. To determine if the family is income-eligible, the Housing Authority compares the Gross Annual Income of the family to the applicable income limit for the family’s size. Current income limits for all housing programs can be found on this website. An additional criterion is an applicant’s criminal record. A mandatory criminal background check is completed for each adult residing in the household. Reports of drug related offenses and violent criminal activity could exclude an individual or a family from the Section 8 Program. The results of these reports are taken into consideration when the Authority determines eligibility.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE ASSISTANCE
Applicants are selected from the waiting list by date and time of application. Unfortunately the demand for housing assistance can, at times, exceed the funding available to the Housing Authority. In addition, Federal Law requires that in any given year, 75% of all new Section 8 participants have an annual income at or below 30% of area median income. For some applicants, the waiting time to receive assistance can be as long as one year. However, it is still vital that all applicants update this office whenever their contact information changes, as we never know from day to day when assistance could be made available.
HOW MUCH ASSISTANCE DOES A FAMILY RECEIVE?
Generally the Authority will calculate income from all sources and arrive at an annual gross income. From that figure are subtracted allowances and deductions for which the family may be entitled, such as a deduction for each dependent child in the household. The subsidy (the amount paid by the Housing Authority to the Owner) is calculated by deducting 30% of the family’s monthly-adjusted income from the Payment Standard. The amount the family will pay out of its own pocket for rent and utilities will depend on the amount of rent charged by the Owner for the unit selected.
In the Voucher Program the maximum amount the Authority will pay to the landlord is equal to the Payment Standard minus 30% of the tenant’s Adjusted Monthly Income. The Payment Standard is established by the Authority within limits set by HUD.
If the rent requested by the landlord exceeds the Payment Standard, the tenant must pay the difference. However, in the first year of a lease, the family cannot pay more than 40%. If a family chooses a unit renting at or below the Payment Standard, they will pay 30% of their adjusted monthly income for your rent and utilities.
If a family chooses a unit renting above the Payment Standard they will have to pay the additional amount out of their own pocket (their 30% plus the difference between the Payment Standard and the actual cost of the unit). However, during the first year of the family’s Lease their 30% plus any difference they pay MAY NOT equal more than 40% of their income for their rent. If this occurs the unit will be too costly for the Housing Choice Voucher program.
WHERE CAN THE VOUCHER BE USED?
When a voucher is issued, the family will have 60 days to locate housing which meets the standards set forth by this agency and must meet Housing Quality Standards and be ‘Rent Reasonable’. The Old Town Housing Authority can subsidize units in Old Town and in the following areas as long as they are within a 10 mile radius of the City of Old Town: Alton, Argyle, Orono, Milford, Bradley, Stillwater, Greenbush, Greenfield Twp., Costigan and Veazie. After the first year of your subsidy, a Housing Voucher may be used anywhere within the United States.
WHAT ARE A FAMILY’S OBLIGATIONS TO THE LANDLORD IN THE SECTION 8 PROGRAM?
The family obligations to the owner are contained in the owner provided Lease and HUD required Lease Addendum and include reasonable requirements, such as not damaging the unit, paying the rent on time and in full, keeping all utilities for which the family is responsible in service, being respectful of neighbors and not interfering with their right to live in a safe and peaceful environment.
WHAT ARE A FAMILY’S OBLIGATIONS TO THE AUTHORITY IN THE SECTION 8 PROGRAM?
Some of the most important obligations the family has to the Housing Authority are to: provide all required information in a timely manner; report changes in income (amount, type or source) within ten (10) days of the date the change occurred; use the subsidized apartment solely for those family members authorized by the Housing Authority to reside in the subsidized unit; comply with all obligations and responsibilities as defined in your Assisted Lease, Statement of Family Responsibility, and Occupancy Affidavit, not commit any serious or repeated violation of the lease; and to not commit fraud, bribery, engage in drug related activities, or engage in violent criminal behavior.
VOUCHER LEASE-UP PROCEDURE
• Receive written notification from the Housing Authority that a subsidy is available
• Attend a scheduled Briefing Session
• Locate a unit within the Housing Authority’s jurisdiction
• Complete a Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) with the Owner and bring or mail it to the Housing Authority Office. Until the Housing Authority receives this form nothing else will take place.Once a completed RFTA is returned, the Housing Authority will:
1. Determine if the unit is “Rent Reasonable” and
2. Arrange an inspection to determine if the unit meets Housing Quality Standards
• The Owner must provide the family with a Lease. This document is between the Family and the Owner. The family is required to provide the Housing Authority with a signed copy. The Housing Authority will create a HUD required Lease Addendum for the owner and tenant to sign. A Housing Assistance Payments Contract, between the Owner and the Housing Authority, will also be created. Tenants will also be required to sign a Statement of Family Responsibility and an Occupancy Affidavit. The Tenant and the Owner will be notified by mail when these documents are ready to be signed.Once all parties have signed the required program documents and the unit has been determined to meet Housing Quality Standards, a Housing Assistance Payment will then be made to the Owner. Payments are mailed on the first workday of the month for that month’s assistance. Family pays their portion of the rent directly to the Owner on time (this is a program requirement).
• Family reports all changes in income to the Old Town Housing Authority within ten days from the date of the change.
• Family only allows those members on the subsidy to reside in the subsidized unit.
• At the request of the Housing Authority, the family will re-certify their eligibility each year and allow their unit to be inspected once per year or more often if required
Also available to Housing Choice Voucher Program participants are the Family Self-Sufficiency Program and the Homeownership Option Program.