Section 8

SECTION 8 RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

(Housing Choice Voucher Program)

The Housing Authority of the County of Dauphin operates a Section 8 Low Income Rental Assistance Program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which is intended to help families afford safe, decent and sanitary rental housing owned by private landlords.  Eligible families are given a Voucher, which can be used to rent an apartment or a house from a participating landlord. Under the Voucher Program, the tenant pays at least 30% and no more than 40% of their adjusted gross monthly income in rent at initial lease up.  The Authority pays the remainder of the negotiated rent directly to the Landlord under a Housing Assistance Payments Contract.

THE APPLICATION PROCESS

When the Section 8 waiting list is open, families who wish to apply for the Section 8 Program must complete either a paper or electronic application. The application process involves two phases: the Preliminary Application, which results in the family's placement on the waiting list, and the second phase is the "final determination of eligibility", when the family approaches the top of the waiting list.  The family is sent a letter to determine whether the family is still interested in the Section 8 Program and, if so, requests updated information from the family. If the family is still interested and is still eligible for the same preferences, the Authority invites the family to an interview at which time the family is given an Intake Packet requesting more detailed information.  The Authority then verifies the updated applicant information and does a criminal and credit check.  If the family is verified as eligible, a Voucher is issued and the family has 60 days to locate housing.

QUALIFICATIONS FOR SECTION 8 ASSISTANCE

To be eligible for participation, an applicant must meet HUD's criteria, as well as any other criteria established by the Housing Authority. Some of the most important eligibility criteria are:

    *    An applicant must qualify as a "family";
    *    An applicant must be within the appropriate Income Limits.

The applicant must qualify as a family. A family may be a single person or a group of persons.  A “family” includes a family with or without a child or children.  A group of persons consisting of two or more elderly persons or disabled persons living together, or one or more elderly or disabled persons living with a live-in aide.  The Housing Authority determines whether any other group of persons qualifies as a “family”.

To determine whether the family is income eligible, the Housing Authority compares the annual income of the family to the applicable income limit for the family's size. Families whose annual income exceeds the income limit will be denied admission.

Finally, a credit report and criminal background check are completed for each adult residing in the household.  Reports of drug related offenses and violent criminal activity can exclude an individual or

 
a family from the Section 8 Program. The results of these reports are taken into consideration when the Authority determines eligibility.

CALCULATION OF RENTAL ASSISTANCE

Generally, if you qualify for assistance, the Authority will calculate your income from all sources, and arrive at an annual gross income.  From that figure are subtracted allowances and deductions for which you may be entitled, such as a deduction for each child in the household.  In the Voucher Program the maximum amount that the Authority will pay to the landlord is equal to the Payment Standard minus 30% of the tenant's Adjusted Monthly Income. The Payment Standard is established by the Authority within limits set by HUD. If the rent requested by the landlord exceeds the Payment Standard, the tenant must pay the difference.

WHERE THE VOUCHER CAN BE USED?

When a voucher is issued, the applicant will have 60 days to locate housing which meets HUD standards with regard to rent level and condition of the unit.  Basically, an applicant can live anywhere he or she chooses (within Dauphin County, outside the City of Harrisburg), in any neighborhood, school district, and in any municipality which best meets the applicant family’s needs for employment, transportation, childcare and other factors.

HOUSING QUALITY STANDARDS (HQS) INSPECTION

When the family finds a rental unit that meets its needs and the landlord is willing to participate in the Section 8 Program, the family and the landlord fill out and submit to the Housing Authority a Request for Tenancy Approval.  This form will result in an HQS inspection of the rental unit.  If there are any deficiencies, the landlord will have to correct them before any further action can be taken.  Once the rental units passes the HQS inspection, the Authority caseworker will prepare a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract for signature by the landlord and the Authority and a lease will also be prepared with the same dates and rental amounts for signature by the landlord and the family.  Remember, the lease is also a contract which spells out the obligations and responsibilities of both the landlord and the family.

HOUSING ASSISTANCE PAYMENTS TO THE LANDLORD

After the Housing Assistance Payments Contract is signed by both parties and the family occupies the Section 8 assisted unit, the Housing Authority will begin to make monthly Housing Assistance Payments to the landlord.  At the same time, the family will also make its monthly rental payments to the landlord.

PORTABILITY

After being assisted for at least one year in Dauphin County, outside the City of Harrisburg, the family  can take its voucher to other areas in Pennsylvania or to other states where there is a Housing Authority.  Be aware that other Housing Authorities may have different policies which could affect your renting in their area of operation including payment standards, utility allowances and the number of bedrooms on the voucher.  

 
FAMILY OBLIGATIONS TO THE OWNER

The family’s obligations to the owner are contained in the lease and some appear on the signed Voucher, and include reasonable requirements, such as not damaging the unit or permitting any guest to damage the unit or premises, paying the rent on time, keeping all utilities for which the family is responsible in service, being respectful of neighbors and not interfering with their right to live in a safe and peaceful environment.

FAMILY OBLIGATIONS TO THE HOUSING AUTHORITY

Some of the most important obligations the family has to the Housing Authority are that the family must provide all required information accurately and in a timely manner; not commit any serious or repeated violation of the lease; and family members may not commit fraud, bribery, engage in drug related activities or violent criminal behavior.

ANNUAL RECERTIFICATIONS

In accordance with HUD requirements, the Authority will reexamine the income and household composition of all families at least annually.  Approximately 90 days prior to the reexamination date, families will be sent a set of recertification documents which the family is to complete, sign and return promptly to the Housing Authority office. The family must state and certify its income and family composition.  Based on the verified information provided in the recertification documents, the Authority determines the family portion of the rent for the year beginning on the recertification date and provides the family with approximately a 30 day notice of the new rent amount.

In conjunction with the annual recertification process, the family’s rental unit will be inspected to determine compliance with the Section 8 Program Housing Quality (HQS) Standards.  If there are any deficiencies, the landlord will have to make the appropriate repairs.

INTERIM REPORTING REQUIREMENTS/REEXAMINATIONS

Families are required to report all increases in monthly income of $ 300.00 or more between  reexaminations in writing within 14 days of the increase.  This reporting requirement includes the reporting of any asset, which results in an increase in income of $ 300.00 per month or more.
Program participants must report all changes in household composition to the Authority between annual reexaminations.  This includes all changes in household composition between annual reexaminations including family additions due to birth, adoption and court awarded custody.  The family must obtain Authority approval prior to all other additions to the household.

Change of Income/ Household Composition Form

SECTION 8 HOMEOWNERSHIP PROGRAM

The Housing Authority of the County of Dauphin may now assist Section 8 participants in becoming homeowners.  Through this program, eligible families participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program may choose a house for purchase anywhere in Dauphin County (outside the City of Harrisburg) and receive financial assistance for homeownership expenses (mortgage payments) for up to 15 years.  For the elderly/disabled there is no time limit.

Total household income may not exceed the maximum gross income limits as prescribed by the program.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

        *    Must live in Dauphin County with Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher assistance;
        *    Enrollment in the Family Self Sufficiency Program (FSS) is not required, although participation is strongly urged;
        *    Be a first time homebuyer and have not owned a home during the last three years
        *    at least one adult family member who will own the home must have been employed for one year prior to receiving homeownership assistance (Elderly and disabled persons do not have to comply with this                                           employment requirement);             
        *    The family must meet the Federal minimum income requirement. Based on the income of adult family members who will own the home, the family must have a gross annual income of not less than the Federal                                            minimum wage multiplied by 2000, or in the case of a disabled family not less than the monthly Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit for an individual living alone (or paying his or her share                                                    of food and housing costs) multiplied by 12.  Unless the family is elderly or disabled, income from welfare assistance will not be counted toward this requirement;
       *    Have had no family caused violations of HUD's Housing Quality Standards within the previous year;
       *    Not be within the initial one year period of a HAP contract;
       *    Not owe money to any Housing Authority;
       *    Successfully complete homeownership counseling sessions approved by the Housing Authority
       *    Be able to obtain mortgage financing;
       *    Have not defaulted on a mortgage securing debt to purchase a home under the homeownership option;
       *    Make a minimum initial down payment of 3% of the purchase price;
       *    Have a minimum cash down payment of one percent of purchase price, which is paid from the families' own resources;

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Please contact the Housing Authority's Section 8 Home Ownership Coordinator at 717 939 9301, Extension 527.

 
REQUIRED STEPS IN ORDER TO PURCHASE YOUR HOME THROUGH THE SECTION 8 HOMEOWNERSHIP PROGRAM:

        *    Be currently assisted through the Housing Choice Voucher Program;
        *    Attend a HACD program briefing session;
        *    Successfully complete homeownership counseling sessions;
        *    Receive pre approval from a mortgage lender;
        *    Find a house in Dauphin County, outside the City of Harrisburg;
        *    Sign an agreement of sale;
        *    Bring the proposed purchase price and property description to HACD for review;
        *    Have the home inspected by HACD and also by a professional inspector;
        *    Go back to the bank to be issued a mortgage loan;
        *    Have settlement on the property, and occupy your new home.