Housing Programs FAQs

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What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly known as Section 8, is a federal program that provides rental assistance to eligible low-income households through tenant-based and project-based vouchers.

What does the Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8 program) do?

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program assists low income individuals and families with their rental payments. Under the HCV Program, property owners retain the same rights and responsibilities that they have under the State of Georgia Landlord Tenant Law. They use their own rental agreement or lease and decide what the term of tenancy will be. The tenant has the same obligations as any other tenant under State law. The Housing Authority of DeKalb County (HADC) rental assistance payment to the owner on the familys behalf does not change the normal relationship of property owners or managers to tenants.

What is the difference between tenant-based and project-based vouchers?

Tenant-Based Vouchers provide rental assistance for families in the private rental market. The voucher is provided to applicants and they can choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program.

Project-Based Vouchers provide rental assistance that is tied to a specific unit in a property contracted with the Housing Authority.

For both voucher types, the Housing Authority pays a portion of contracted rent in the form of a housing assistance payment to the landlord on behalf of the Participant. The Participant pays the remaining rent, an amount that is roughly equivalent to 30% of their monthly income, and utility expenses.

How does the Housing Choice Voucher program work?

In the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, participants find suitable housing offered by a private owner using a voucher issued by the Housing Authority. All housing selected by the family must meet local requirements and federal standards called Housing Quality Standards (HQS).

In addition to meeting HQS requirements, units must meet a rent reasonableness test(i.e., the rents cannot be higher than similar units in the area). This test is performed on each unit leased during the initial HQS inspection and when an owner requests a rent increase.

The subsidy is calculated by using the lower of the voucher payment standard or the gross rent minus the total tenant payment. HCV families pay their share of the rent directly to the owner or property manager.

The HCV gives a family flexibility to pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities if they desire. However, families who are new admissions or move to a new unit cannot pay more than 40 percent of their income during the first lease term.

How much does the tenant pay for their rental share?

The tenant pays an amount that is roughly equivalent to 30% of their monthly income. The Housing Authority pays the balance of the total rent to the property owner.

In some cases, the tenant may pay more than 30% of their income. If the family rents a unit for which rent and utilities exceed the payment standard, the family's portion of the rent may be higher. However, this formula does not mean the family can pay the difference between the requested owner rent and the Authority's approved amount. If the rent for the unit is more than the payment standard, the family will be required to pay more than 30 percent of their adjusted monthly income but not to exceed 40% of their monthly adjusted income.

Families are prohibited from paying more than 40% of their monthly adjusted income for rent when the gross rent exceeds the payment standard. After the initial lease term, the family can pay more than 40% of their adjusted monthly income for rent.

Does HADC work with Housing Referral Partners?

Yes. The HADC Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program partners with a number of Agencies that provide Housing Referrals for homeless and vulnerable individuals and families. Link here for HADC Housing Referral Partners.


For other frequently asked questions about the Housing Choice Voucher program, use the links below or link to FAQs in the Housing Programs, Participants or Owners menus.