The housing choice voucher program is the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford 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, townhouses and apartments.
Note: On November 7, 2012, the waiting list for federal housing assistance from the City of Paducah Section 8 Housing Program will be closed until further notice.
If you are interested in applying for a voucher, contact the Paducah Section 8 Department, Room 208, City Hall, 300 South 5th Street, Paducah, KY, telephone number (270) 444-8542. To download an application, click here. The demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited financial resources available to local housing agencies. Consequently, long waiting periods can be common. Check with the Section 8 staff for the current approximate wait for a Housing Choice Voucher Regulations are found in 24 CFR Part 982 .
About the Housing Choice Voucher
The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to any specific dwelling unit. However, the rent must not exceed rents charged for similar unassisted units. The rent of each subsidized unit is compared to the rent of two unsubsidized rental units of similar age, neighborhood and condition and cannot be higher than the unsubsidized unit.
Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs). In the case of Paducah, the Section 8 Department is the administrating office of the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The PHA receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program.
A family that is issued a housing 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. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the PHA and must be rent reasonable.
A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the PHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. Under certain circumstances, if authorized by the PHA, a family may use its voucher to purchase a modest home.
How do the vouchers work?
The housing choice voucher program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. A very low-income family is selected by the PHA to participate and encouraged to consider several housing choices to secure the best housing for the family needs. A housing voucher holder is advised of the unit size for which it is eligible based on family size and composition.
The housing unit selected by the family must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before the PHA can approve the unit. When the voucher holder finds a unit that it wishes to occupy and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the PHA must inspect the dwelling and determine the rent requested is reasonable.
The PHA determines a payment standard that is the amount generally needed to rent a moderately-priced dwelling unit in the local housing market. The payment standard is used to calculate the amount of housing assistance a family will receive. However, the payment standard does not limit and does not affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family may pay. A family which receives a housing voucher can select a unit with a rent that is below or above the payment standard as long as other unassisted units rent for about the same amount.
The housing voucher family must pay 30% of its monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities. If the unit rent is greater than the payment standard, the family is required to pay the additional amount. By law, whenever a family moves to a new unit where the rent exceeds the payment standard, the family may not pay more than 40 percent of its adjusted monthly income for rent.
The Section 8 Department calculates the maximum amount of housing assistance allowable. The maximum housing assistance is generally the lesser of the payment standard minus 30% of the family's monthly adjusted income or the gross rent for the unit minus 30% of monthly adjusted income. When a family's income changes, they notify the Section 8 Department and their rent is adjusted. Their rent may go up or down, depending on the change in gross income and deductions, during participation in the program.
Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by Section 8 based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, the family's income may not exceed 50% of the median income for McCracken County.
By law, Section 8 must provide 75% of its voucher to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30% of the area median income. Median income levels are published by HUD and vary by location. The Section 8 Department can provide you with the income limits for McCracken County based on family size.
During the application process, Section 8 will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. The information will be used to determine program eligibility. If Section 8 determines that your family is eligible, then your name will be put on a waiting list. Once your name comes to the top of the waiting list and funding is available, Section 8 will contact you with a date and time for a briefing and issue you a housing voucher. It is very important for the family to notify Section 8 in writing of any address change. Names are dropped from the waiting list if mailings sent the family by Section 8 are returned as undeliverable.
Once Section 8 approves an eligible family's housing unit, the family and the landlord sign a lease and, at the same time, the landlord and Section 8 signs a housing assistance payment contract that runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone -- tenant, landlord and Section 8-- has obligations and responsibilities under the voucher program.
Tenant's Obligations: When a family selects a housing unit, and the PHA approves the unit and lease, the family signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. After the first year the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease.
When the family is settled in a new home, the family is expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay its share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition and notify Section 8 of any changes in income or family composition.
Landlord's Obligations: The role of the landlord in the voucher program is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program's housing quality standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with Section 8.
Section 8's Obligations: The Section 8 Department administers the voucher program locally. Section 8 provides a family with the housing assistance that enables the family to seek out suitable housing. Section 8 enters into a contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet the owner's obligations under the lease, Section 8 has the right to terminate assistance payments. The Section 8 Department must re-examine the family's income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least annually to ensure that it meets minimum housing quality standards.
HUD's Role: To cover the cost of the program, HUD provides funds to allow Section 8 to make housing assistance payments on behalf of the families. HUD also pays the Section 8 a fee for the costs of administering the program. When additional funds become available to assist new families, HUD invites PHA's (Section 8) to submit applications for funds for additional housing vouchers. Applications are then reviewed and funds awarded to the selected PHAs on a competitive basis. HUD monitors administration of the program to ensure program rules are properly followed.
If I Move Can I Still Receive My Voucher?
A family's housing needs change over time with changes in family size, job locations, and for other reasons. The housing choice voucher program is designed to allow families to move without the loss of housing assistance. Moves are permissible as long as the family notifies the PHA ahead of time, terminates its existing lease within the lease provisions, and finds acceptable alternate housing.
Under the voucher program, new voucher holders may choose a unit anywhere in the United States if the family lived in the jurisdiction of the PHA (Section 8) issuing the voucher when the family applied for assistance. Those new voucher holders not living in the jurisdiction of the PHA (Section 8) at the time the family applied for housing assistance must initially lease a unit within that jurisdiction for the first twelve months of assistance. A family that wishes to move to another PHA's (Section 8's) jurisdiction must consult with the PHA that currently administers its housing assistance to verify the procedures for moving.
The City of Paducah adheres to
HUD's Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity laws.