HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM

312 Gifford Street, 9th Floor
Syracuse, NY 13204
(315) 470-4400
Fax (315) 470-4436

Section 8 Staff

 

Housing Choice Vouchers

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher is a federally funded program administered by local public housing agencies. The HCV program enables families to obtain decent, safe, and sanitary housing by subsidizing a portion of each tenant's monthly rent and paying it directly and promptly to the property owner.  Any type of private rental housing is eligible.  Single family dwellings, duplex units, row houses, high rise buildings and townhouses are eligible.  Paperwork is minimal and the owner retains normal management rights and responsibilities, including tenant selection, rent collection, property maintenance, and lease termination.

A family receiving a voucher from SHA may use it in the city of Syracuse and surrounding communities. In addition, the family may be able to use the portability feature of the HCV program and move anywhere in the country.

The Syracuse Housing Authority currently serves over 3000 families through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, and over 400 families through the Shelter Plus Care Program. Annually, SHA provides approximately $20 million in Section 8 rental assistance to the greater-Syracuse area.

Applicants

OUR WAITING LIST IS CLOSED. WE ARE NOT ACCEPTING NEW APPLICANTS AT THIS TIME.

If you have already submitted an application and need to report a change (address, income, family composition), please complete this form and return it to the SHA Section 8 Office.

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program Application and Change Form should be submitted to the Section 8 office at:

312 Gifford St. 9th Floor
Syracuse, NY 13204

Please be advised that in order to be eligible for the program, you must meet the income requirements outlined on the attached form.

Programs

Housing Choice Voucher

Project-Based Vouchers

Shelter Plus Care

Family Self-Sufficiency

Homeownership

SRO Moderate Rehabilitation

Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH)

Tenant-Based Housing Choice Vouchers

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher is a federally funded program administered by SHA. The HCV program enables families to obtain decent, safe, and sanitary housing by subsidizing a portion of each tenant's monthly rent.

When an eligible applicant is selected from the wait list, they will be offered a voucher. Voucher participants must look for housing that is in good condition so that it will pass the Housing Quality Standards inspection and meet rent reasonableness standards. If approved, the Section 8 family will pay a percentage (generally, 30%) of its monthly income for shelter (rent plus utilities) and SHA pays the difference directly to the owner of the unit.

Under this program:

  • A family that is issued a housing choice voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family's choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. This unit may include the family's present residence.
  • Participants must be prepared to pay a security deposit.
  • Property taxes must be current at that location.
  • The rent must be reasonable in comparison to similar units.
  • The Voucher participant and the Landlord have to sign a lease.
  • The Landlord and SHA must sign a Housing Assistance Payment Contract.
  • If the Voucher participant's income or family composition changes, they must report it to SHA within 30 days and their portion of the rent will be adjusted.
  • Participants may not rent from close relatives unless the unit would provide reasonable accommodation for a disabled family member.

Project-Based Vouchers

The SHA has established Project-Based Vouchers at the complex listed below. The vouchers at this complex are attached to specific units.  Clients may apply at the complex.

Courtyard at James
708 James Street
Syracuse, New York 13203

 

Landlords

General Information for Landlords

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is designed to assist very low income families in affording decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single family homes, apartments, and townhouses. The participants can choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program.

How to List a Vacant Property at Section 8

A landlord can add their unit to the Section 8 Rent Listings by calling (315) 470-4400. Please be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Bedroom Size
  • Address of Unit
  • Monthly Rent
  • Square Footage
  • Age of Building
  • Utilities Paid for By Tenant
  • Amenities Provided by Owner
  • Contact Information

Once the property is rented, please contact the SHA Section 8 office so that the unit can be removed from the list.
If the landlord agrees to lease a unit to a Section 8 recipient, the landlord and the tenant must complete and return Request for Tenancy Approval to the SHA Section 8 Office.

Inspections

Before a tenant can move into the property, SHA is required to inspect the unit. The inspector is looking for minimum Housing Quality Standards (called HQS) to ensure that the unit is in livable condition. If the unit does not meet HQS, the landlord will be asked to make repairs to the unit prior to the client moving in. SHA will not sign the Housing Assistance Payment Contract or pay rent towards a unit until it passes inspection.

Please see the attached HQS checklist used by the inspectors:

HQS CHECKLIST

Lead-Based Paint

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has implemented new laws regarding defective paint (potentially containing lead) in units build before 1978. HQS inspections conducted by SHA are required to follow these laws.

If loose and peeling paint is found during an inspection, the inspector will note the violation and indicate on the inspection report that the paint must be addressed in accordance with lead safe work practices.

The unit is re-inspected after the violations have been corrected (the loose and peeling paint has been addressed). If the inspector sees that the paint is no longer peeling, he will inform the landlord to request that the City of Syracuse Lead Hazard Control Program do a risk assessment and/or clearance exam. The unit will then pass inspection on the date the risk assessment/clearance exam passes and the owner lead-based paint certification is received and dated.

How Much Rent Can be Charged

The landlord provides the desired rent for the unit. However, the rent must be reasonable compared to other units of similar location, quality, size, type, and age. If the rent is not reasonable to similar units, the landlord may be asked to lower the rent to accommodate the tenant interested in moving into the property. In addition, rent increases must also be reasonable in relation to comparable units, the payment standard, and what portion of the rent the tenant can afford to pay.

If the landlord chooses to increase the rent, they can do so one year after occupancy. The landlord must provide a copy of the rent increase notification to the SHA Section 8 Office at least 60 days prior to the desired effective date.

Rent Calculation

SHA will pay the landlord for the difference between the payment standard and tenants total payment. The tenant will pay the difference between the total rent and the voucher amount. Both the tenant and SHA will pay their portions of the rent at the beginning of every month. A delay in SHA’s portion of the payment may be expected when the tenant first moves into the unit. However, a prorated rent can be paid on a mid-month move. Please contact the SHA Section 8 office for more details on when exactly payment will be sent.

Tenant Selection

The landlord has the right to select the tenant for their unit, using whatever criteria they would normally use. However, the landlord cannot discriminate against an individual because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, familial status, or disability.

Tenant Related Issues

If a landlord has repeated problems with their tenant, they have the right to enforce the lease and take the necessary actions against the tenant. If the landlord does start proceedings against a tenant, they must notify the SHA Section 8 office. If the landlord sends any correspondence, such as a warning letter or a notice to vacate, please provide a copy of this correspondence to the SHA Section 8 office. In some cases, SHA may take action against the tenant to terminate the assistance prior to the eviction.

Damages

Damages beyond the normal wear and tear and are tenant-related can be paid for by the tenant. The landlord should have a standard practice listed in the lease as to how damages will be paid for by the tenant. After the tenant moves out, the landlord may take compensation for damages beyond the normal wear and tear from the tenant’s security deposit.

Participants

How Does a Family Obtain a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher?

Interested families should complete a Pre-Application for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program to have their name placed on the waiting list. As subsidies become available, families will be contacted in order from the waiting list, according to their income levels. There are no provisions for emergency housing. You will be placed on the waiting list according to your priority, based on Section 8 HCV guidelines.

What Happens When a Family is selected off the Waiting List?

When a family comes to the top of the waiting list, they will be invited to complete a full application which will include the household composition, income, and police checks for all adults. Assuming that all guidelines are met, a voucher will be issued. The family will be given at least 60 days, but no more than 120 days to find a suitable unit.

Where can the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher be used?

The SHA Section 8 HCV Program administers vouchers for the City of Syracuse and surrounding communities. The landlord must be willing to participate in the Section 8 HCV program, and the unit selected must pass the SHA Housing Quality Standards Inspection. The rent for the unit must be reasonable compared to other units that are similar in the area. The subsidy can be used at the family’s present unit, given that all guidelines are met. A family cannot rent from a close relative, unless, because of a disability, it is considered a reasonable accommodation.

There are also provisions which allow a family to use the subsidy in other areas of the country. This is called portability. SHA must be contacted before transferring your subsidy to another area.

The SHA Section 8 HCV Program encourages participants to consider locating units outside of high poverty areas. Tenants should consider where they might find better housing, schools, shopping, and job opportunities.

How is Rent Assistance Provided?

SHA calculates the amount of assistance each family receives. The level of assistance is based on family size and income. A family is expected to pay approximately 30% of its income towards rent. When a family finds a unit and signs a lease, SHA will sign a Housing Assistance Payment Contract with the owner. Each month, SHA will make housing assistance payments directly to the owner. These payments are guaranteed monthly income to the owner as long as program requirements are met.

What are the Tenant’s Responsibilities?

  1. The tenant must comply with the lease. It is the tenant’s responsibility to obey all lease obligations.  This responsibility includes paying their share of the rent when it is due.  The tenant must obey the rules and regulations of the building, as well as all of the rules written in the lease.  The tenant should be careful not to damage the unit.  If the unit needs repairs, notify the landlord right away.  If the lease is violated, the family can be evicted and the Section 8 HCV Program will stop making the subsidy payments.
  2. The tenant must pay the security deposit and make utility payments.When a tenant moves into a new unit, the security deposit must be paid as required by the lease.  If the tenant is responsible for utilities, payments must be made promptly each month.  If utility payments are not made, the tenant is in violation of the lease and may result in the loss of subsidy.
  3. Report changes in income or family size.Changes in income or family size can affect the amount of subsidy that the family is eligible for.  The family must report changes within 30 days, so that SHA can make any necessary adjustments.  Failure to report income and family size changes in a timely manner can result in the loss of subsidy.  Any decrease in income, and increases in income of$200 or more per month must be reported within 30 days.  In addition, you must report all newsources of income regardless of the amount.

 

What are the Obligations of the Family?

  1. The family must supply any information, certifications and release that HUD or SHA determines is necessary in the administration of the program.  This includes any required evidence of citizenship or eligible immigration status.
  2. The family must supply any information requested by HUD or SHA for use in regularly scheduled examinations or interim re-examinations.
  3. Any information provided by the family must be true and complete.
  4. Housing Quality Standards (HQS).  The family must not cause a breach in HQS, which pertains to:
    • Tenant-supplied utilities.
    • Appliances furnished by the tenant.
    • Tenant damages to the unit or premises beyond normal wear and tear.
  5. Violation of lease.  The family may not commit any serious or repeated violation of the lease.  This would include non-payment of the rent.
  6. The family must move in accordance with their lease or in agreement with their landlord.
  7. The family must give SHA a copy of any eviction notice promptly.
  8. Use and Occupancy of the unit:
    • The family must use the assisted unit for residence by the family, and as the only residence for the family.
    • All family members residing in the unit must be approved by SHA.
    • The family must notify SHA of any birth, adoption or court awarded custody.
    • The family must request approval from SHA to add any other member to the household.
    • All new adult members are subject to a police ID check.
    • The family must promptly notify SHA if any family member moves out.
    • If SHA has given approval, a foster child or live-in aide may reside in the unit.
    • The family must not sublease or let the unit.
    • The family must not assign the lease or transfer the unit.
  9. Absence From the Unit:
    • The family must supply any information requested by SHA to verify that the family is living in the unit, including any information on the purpose(s) of family absences.  The family must cooperate with SHA.
    • The family must promptly notify SHA of absences from the unit.
  10. The members of the family must not commit fraud, bribery, or any other corrupt or criminal act in connection with the programs.
  11. The members of the family must not engage in drug-related criminal activity or violent criminal activity.
  12. Members of the family may not receive Section 8 rental assistance while receiving another type of housing assistance either for the same unit, or for a different unit.

 

Grounds for Denial or Termination of Assistance

The following items may result in the denial or loss of Section 8 rental assistance:

  1. If the family violates any family obligation.
  2. If any member of the family has ever been evicted from public housing.
  3. If SHA has ever terminated assistance under the certificate or voucher program for any member of the family.
  4. If any member of the family commits drug-related criminal activity or violent criminal activity.
  5. If any member of the family commits fraud, bribery, or any act of corruption in connection with any HUD program.
  6. If the family currently owes rent or other amounts to SHA or to another Housing Authority.
  7. If the family has not reimbursed any Housing Authority for amounts paid to an owner for rent, damages or other amounts due under the lease.
  8. If the family violates an agreement with SHA to repay.
  9. If a family participating in the Family Self Sufficiency program fails to comply, without good cause, with the Family Self Sufficiency Contract.
  10. If the family has engaged in threatening, abusive, or violent behavior toward SHA personnel.
  11. If a family member fails to sign and submit consent forms for obtaining information.
  12. If the family does not submit required evidence of citizenship or eligible immigration status.
  13. If the family vacates the dwelling unit without proper notice to SHA.
  14. If the family does not use the dwelling as its principal place of residence.
  15. If the family refuses to supply any certification, release of information or documentation which SHA or HUD determines to be necessary for the administration of the program.
  16. Refusal or failure to provide dispositions of any arrests when requested by SHA.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I cannot find a suitable unit within the 60-day time limit?

You may request an extension from your Tenant Selector at the SHA Section 8 office.  You may have up to an additional 60 days to look for a unit.  You must submit documentation of your search for units, and it is up to Syracuse Housing Authority whether they will extend or not.

What if I cannot afford to pay my security deposit?

In some cases, landlords will permit tenants to pay security deposits over several months.  Check with your landlord to see if he or she is willing to work out a payment schedule.

Must I get a unit with the same number of bedrooms as written on my Housing Choice Voucher?

No.  You may rent a larger or smaller unit.  As long as you can afford it and the rent is reasonable compared to other units in the Section 8 HCV program, you may rent a larger unit.  As long as the unit meets the program’s housing quality standards and the occupancy standards for your family, you may rent a smaller unit.

My mother is in a nursing home.  Can she use a Housing Voucher to help pay for her room?

No.  Rooms in nursing homes are prohibited from the program.  You may not use a voucher for single rooms in medical, psychiatric, or rehab centers.

My mother lives in congregate housing.  Can she use a Housing Voucher to help pay for her unit?

Congregate Housing and Independent Group Residences may be alright.  Check with SHA to determine if your situation is permissible.

What if I disagree with the Housing Authority about my eligibility or my subsidy level?

If you disagree with a decision of SHA, go back to your Tenant Selector and have him or her explain the decision.  Perhaps there was a mistake or perhaps you misunderstood.  If you are still dissatisfied, you may request a hearing at the agency.

What happens if the landlord wants to raise the rent?

After the first year of the lease the landlord may choose to increase the rent.  The landlord must give 60 days notice to the tenant and SHA for any rent increases. Under the Section 8 HCV Program, there is no limit to the amount a landlord can raise the rent, but the rent must still be reasonable for the unit as compared to similar units.

Usually, SHA will not be able to increase the subsidy when the rent increases.  You must decide if you are willing and able to pay the difference.  If you cannot or will not pay the new amount, you can give 30 days written notice to move.  You must contact SHA and follow the procedures for moving.

What happens if my family size changes?

You should report any changes in your family size to SHA.  A change in your family size may change the amount of the subsidy that is being paid.  The agency will also want to be sure that your unit is large enough for your family.  If it is not large enough, then you may have to move.

What if there are maintenance problems with the unit after I move in and the landlord will not fix them?

Call SHA and ask for a new inspection.  SHA will notify the landlord if he or she is not maintaining the unit properly.  If you or your guests cause any problems in the unit, you are responsible to correct these.  Failure to do so could result in the loss of your rent subsidy.

 

 

Portability

Housing Choice Vouchers are portable, meaning they can be transferred from one jurisdiction to another after the initial lease term.

Port-Ins

If you are a current voucher holder and you would like to port into the Syracuse Housing Authority, Housing Choice Voucher Program, you must provide your current Housing Authority with our contact information. They will send the required information to our office via mail or e-mail only. After we receive the information from your current Housing Authority, we will schedule your family for a briefing that must be attended by all household members ages 18 and older.

Please provide your current Housing Authority with our contact information as follows:

Syracuse Housing Authority
HAPP (Section8) Attn: Anny Dominguez
312 Gifford St., 9th fl
Syracuse, NY 13204

T: 315-470-4468
F: 315-470-4436

Port-Outs

If you are a current participant of the Syracuse Housing Authority  Housing Choice Voucher Program and you would like to port-out to another jurisdiction, you must first contact your tenant selector and provide your tenant selector with the contact information of the Housing Authority you intend to port to. You are required to complete the “Notice to Vacate” process and if you are in good standing with the program and have no lease violations, we will then forward the appropriate information to the Housing Authority you are porting to.

For more information, please e-mail us at ports@syrhousing.org

 

Rental Listings

To search for local rental listings, click here.

To list your properties with this service, follow the instructions in this document.

 

OVERVIEW AND HISTORY OF THE HCV PROGRAM

The intent of this section is to provide the public and staff with information related to the overall operation of the program. There have been many changes to the program since its inception in 1974 and a brief history of the program will assist the reader to better understand the program.

The United States Housing Act of 1937 (the “Act”) is responsible for the birth of federal housing program initiatives. The Act was intended to provide financial assistance to states and cities for public works projects, slum clearance and the development of affordable housing developments for low-income residents.

The Housing and Community Development (HCD) Act of 1974 created a new federally assisted housing program – the Section 8 Existing program (also known as the Section 8 Certificate program). The HCD Act represented a significant shift in federal housing strategy from locally owned public housing to privately owned rental housing.

Under the Certificate program, federal housing assistance payments were made directly to private owners of rental housing, where this housing was made available to lower-income families. Eligible families were able to select housing in the private rental market. Assuming that the housing met certain basic physical standards of quality (“housing quality standards”) and was within certain HUD-established rent limitations (“fair market rents”), the family would be able to receive rental assistance in the housing unit. Family contribution to rent was generally set at 30 percent of the family’s adjusted income, with the remainder of the rent paid by the program.

Another unique feature of the Certificate program was that the rental assistance remained with the eligible family, if the family chose to move to another privately-owned rental unit that met program requirements (in contrast to the public housing program where the rental assistance remains with the unit, should the family decide to move). Consequently, the Certificate program was characterized as tenant-based assistance, rather than unit-based assistance.

The Housing and Community Development (HCD) Act of 1987 authorized a new version of tenant-based assistance – the Section 8 Voucher program. The Voucher program was very similar to the Certificate program in that eligible families were able to select housing in the private rental market and receive assistance in that housing unit.

However, the Voucher program permitted families more options in housing selection. Rental housing still had to meet the basic housing quality standards, but there was no fair market rent limitation on rent. In addition, family contribution to rent was not set at a limit of 30 percent of adjusted income. Consequently, depending on the actual rental cost of the unit selected, a family might pay more or less than 30 percent of their adjusted income for rent.

 

From 1987 through 1999, public housing agencies managed both the Certificate and Voucher tenant-based assistance programs, with separate rules and requirements for each. From 1994 through 1998, HUD published a series of new rules, known as “conforming” rules, to more closely combine and align the two similar housing programs, to the extent permitted by the law.

In 1998, the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act (QHWRA) – also known as the Public Housing Reform Act – was signed into law. QHWRA eliminated all statutory differences between the Certificate and Voucher tenant-based programs and required that the two programs be merged into a single tenant-based assistance program, now known as the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.

The HCV program was modeled closely on the pre-merger Voucher program. However, unlike the pre-merger Voucher program, the HCV program requires an assisted family to pay at least 30 percent of adjusted income for rent.

The transition of assistance from the Certificate and Voucher programs to the new HCV program began in October 1999. By October 2001, all families receiving tenant-based assistance were converted to the HCV program.

 

HCV PROGRAM BASICS

The purpose of the HCV program is to provide rental assistance to eligible families. The rules and regulations of the HCV program are determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The SHA is afforded choices in the operation of the program which are included in the SHA’s administrative plan, a document approved by the board of commissioners of the SHA.

The HCV program offers mobility to eligible families because they may search for suitable housing anywhere in the SHA’s jurisdiction and may also be eligible to move under portability to other SHAs’ jurisdictions.

When a family is determined to be eligible for the program and funding is available, the SHA issues the family a housing voucher. When the family finds a suitable housing unit and funding is available, the SHA will enter into a contract with the owner and the family will enter into a lease with the owner. Each party makes their respective payment to the owner so that the owner receives full rent.

Even though the family is determined to be eligible for the program, the owner has the responsibility of approving the family as a suitable renter. The SHA continues to make payments to the owner as long as the family is eligible and the housing unit continues to qualify under the program.

THE HCV PARTNERSHIPS

To administer the HCV program, the SHA enters into a contractual relationship with HUD (Consolidated Annual Contributions Contract). The SHA also enters into contractual relationships with the assisted family and the owner or landlord of the housing unit.

For the HCV program to work and be successful, all parties involved – HUD, the SHA, the owner, and the family – have important roles to play. The roles and responsibilities of all parties are defined in federal regulations and in legal documents that parties execute to participate in the program.