The lack of safe, affordable housing is widely considered a national crisis. Thousands of families and individuals find themselves struggling to stay afloat financially day after day. Many of them have faced job losses, disabilities, or other hardships. If this is you – you are not alone.

Thankfully, there is a program that gives these residents the ability to better afford housing without sacrificing safety.

Through the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), a service made available through the federal government and Virginia Housing, you may be able to gain access to safe, stable homes at affordable rental rates.

Because of the demand for this program, a waiting list is maintained by Virginia Housing. This list is currently closed, but does occasionally open for new applicants to apply. Even still, the process can be lengthy and confusing. That’s where the experienced staff at Housing Connections comes in! We are fully prepared to guide you through all of the steps needed to apply to the Voucher Program when the waiting list is re-opened. Click to visit the application page on the Virginia Housing website.

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What are Housing Choice Vouchers?

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Because 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. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program, regardless of whether or not the home is located in a subsidized housing project.

Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs). The PHAs receive 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 home of the family's choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. This home may include the family's present residence if the current owner agrees to rent under the program. The housing selected by the family must meet health and safety standards set forth by the PHA before the home can be approved. Yearly inspections will be made to ensure quality and safety.

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, usually 30% of the tenant’s household income.

How Do Housing Vouchers Function?

The Housing Choice Voucher Program gives the choice of housing to the individual family. The housing selected by the family must meet health and safety standards set forth by the PHA before the unit can be approved. When the voucher holder finds a home that it wishes to occupy, and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the PHA must inspect the dwelling and determine that the rent requested is reasonable.

The PHA determines a payment standard that is the amount generally needed to rent a moderately-priced home in the local housing market, which is then used to calculate the amount of housing assistance a family will receive. However, the payment standard does not limit nor affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family may pay. A family which receives a housing voucher can select a home with a rent that is below or above the payment standard. The housing voucher family must pay 30% of its monthly income for rent and utilities, and if the home 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 home where the rent exceeds the payment standard, the family may not pay more than 40% of its adjusted monthly income for rent.

Program Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must meet certain requirements to be eligible. Here are some of the basic eligibility requirements:

  • Applicants must meet certain established income limits which are adjusted annually by HUD.
  • Applicant head of households must be at least 18 years of age, an emancipated minor or a HUD targeted population.
  • Applicants and their families must undergo a criminal screening. Please contact your local Housing Connections office for more information.
  • Certain college students are not eligible for this program.
  • At least one applicant must be a United States Citizen or an eligible Non-Citizen.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can Housing Connections mail/fax/email me an application?
A: Unfortunately, no. Those wishing to apply must do so online once the waiting list is open. There is no charge to apply online.

Q: How do I apply online if I don’t have internet or computer access?
A: It is our hope that the two-week newspaper notification of the waitlist’s opening provides enough time for you to contact family, friends, public libraries, your church and/or other local organizations to arrange to use their Internet in order to complete the online application.

Q: Can someone complete an online application for me?
A: Yes! An application can be completed by anyone on behalf of an applicant.

Q: Are there instructions on how to complete the online application?
A: Click here for instructions on how to complete an online application.

Q: How do I receive a Housing Choice Voucher?
A: You may receive a Housing Choice Voucher after you apply online and are placed on a local housing agency waiting list. There are 32 local housing agencies that partner with Virginia Housing and each maintains a separate waiting list for their area.

Q: How long will I have to wait before I get a voucher?
A: Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to determine an exact wait time because distribution of vouchers depends on the rate of turnover, or the number of people in your area who chose to give up their voucher or leave the program, and the level of federal funding available for the voucher program.

Q: How will you contact me when a voucher is available?
A: When a voucher becomes available, you will be contacted at the email or mailing address you listed on your application. It is very important to keep your mailing and email addresses current at all times. Changes to your mailing/email address should be submitted in writing or by email to the local housing agency. If your mailing/email addresses are not correct or are not delivered, then you won’t receive information regarding the program and your name will be removed from the waiting list. Always follow-up with the local housing agency to be sure they have your correct addresses on file. If you are worried that your email was not received by the local agency please call to confirm the email was received.

Q: What happens when my name reaches the top of the waiting list?
A: When your name reaches the top of the list, your local housing agency will send you a letter or an email requesting you complete the formal application process. Once the information is verified and your application is determined eligible, a voucher will be issued. It is very important that you keep up with your email and mail during the process. If you do not respond to the letter or the email your name will be removed from the waiting list.

Informational Videos

Related Downloads

Voucher Waiting List Housing Application SAMPLE

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