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

Interested families should complete an Application for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program to have their name placed on the waiting list. There are no provisions for emergency housing. As subsidies become available, families will be contacted in order from the waiting list by their preference and date of application 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 criminal background 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 HCV Program (Section 8) administers vouchers for the City of Syracuse and surrounding communities. The landlord must be willing to sign a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract with the 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 their subsidy anywhere in the United States (including Puerto Rico). This is called portability. SHA must be contacted before transferring your subsidy to another area.

The SHA HCV Program (Section 8) 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 HAP 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 Obligations of the Family?

When a family’s unit is approved and the HAP contract is executed, the family must follow the rules outlined by HUD and the PHA in order to continue participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The list of Obligations of the Family can be found in the family’s voucher paperwork. The voucher is signed by the family and a SHA official. 

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 occupy the unit with the authorized household members of the family. 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. The tenant must notify the landlord and SHA 30 days in advance, when they are ready to move. 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 must be reported within 30 days.  In addition, you must report all new sources of income regardless of the amount.

Grounds for Denial or Termination of Assistance

Denial or Termination of assistance occurs when a tenant is no longer eligible for subsidy due to a violation or failure to comply with the family’s obligation, tenant responsibilities or HUD program requirements. It results in the loss of subsidy to the family. A family whose assistance is terminated may remain in the unit, but they must pay the full contract rent to the landlord. In accordance with HUD regulations, a family has the right to request an informal hearing of the decision to terminate their assistance and an informal review for denial of assistance.