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Frequently Asked Questions

What are Housing Choice Vouchers?

Housing choice vouchers allow very low-income families to choose safe, decent, and affordable privately-owned rental housing. The City of Utica Section 8 Program offers Housing Choice Vouchers that are tenant-based vouchers.

What are tenant-based vouchers?

Tenant-based vouchers allow families to choose an apartment anywhere in the city. Families are not limited to a specific building or location in the city.

What families are eligible to apply for tenant-based vouchers?

Very low-income families (i.e. families with incomes below 50% of area median income) and a few specific categories of families with incomes up to 80% of the area median income. These include families that are already assisted under the 1937 U.S. Housing Act, such as families physically displaced by public housing demolition, and owners opting out of project-based section 8 housing assistance payments (HAP) contracts. (HUD determines median income levels for each area annually.)

How does a PHA determine if a family is income eligible?

The PHA compares the family's annual gross income with the HUD established very low-income limit or low-income limit for the area. The family's gross income cannot exceed this limit.

How do families apply for Section 8 tenant-based vouchers?

First a family must apply to the Section 8 waiting list at their local public housing authority (PHA). Many have long waiting lists, so you may want to apply at more than one public housing authority.

Locally, families can apply for the waiting list at the City of Utica Section 8 Office located on the third floor of City Hall. When an eligible family comes to the top of the waiting list, Section 8 issues a housing choice voucher to the family.

How does a family obtain an apartment once they have a voucher?

It is the responsibility of a family to find a unit that meets their needs. If the family finds a unit that meets the housing quality standards (HQS), the rent is reasonable, and the unit meets other program requirements, the PHA executes a HAP contract with the property owner. This contract authorizes the PHA to make subsidy payments on behalf of the family. If the family moves out of the unit, the contract with the owner ends and the family can move with continued assistance to another unit, assuming all proper steps have been followed.

How much rent do vouchers cover?

The PHA pays the owner the difference between 30 percent of the adjusted family income and a PHA determined payment standard or the gross rent for the unit, whichever is lower. The family may choose a unit with a higher rent than the payment standard and pay the owner the difference.

Do families have to lease a unit in the jurisdiction where the PHA issues the voucher?

No. A family may choose a unit anywhere in the United States where there is a PHA that administers a tenant-based housing choice voucher program. However, the family may only use the voucher to lease a unit in an area where the family is income eligible at admission to the program.

I have a Section 8 voucher, and I'm moving to another city. Can I take my voucher with me?

Yes, that is possible. But you'll need to contact both your current and your future PHA to work out the details.

I'd like to rent my home to a Section 8 tenant. How can I do that?

You may call or visit the Section 8 Office to post an apartment listing on the board for all families to view.