Rental Assistance Program
The Housing Authority operates a Section 8 Low Income Rental Assistance Program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The program 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 house from a participating landlord. Under the program, the tenant pays between 30% - 40% of their adjusted gross monthly income in rent at initial lease up. The Housing Authority pays the remainder of the negotiated rent directly to the landlord under a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract.
When the Section 8 waiting list is open, families who wish to apply must complete either a paper or electronic application. The application process involves two phases – the Preliminary Application when the family is placed on the waiting list, and the Final Determination of Eligibility, when the family approaches the top of the waiting list.
You will be sent a letter to determine whether you are still interested in the Section 8 Program and will be asked for updated family information. If you are still interested and still eligible for the same preferences, the Housing Authority will invite you to an interview. The updated applicant information will be verified and the Housing Authority will perform a criminal and credit check. Once eligible, a Voucher is issued and you will have 60 days to locate housing.
Qualifications for Section 8 Assistance
To be eligible for participation, you 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.
A FAMILY may be defined as a single person or a group of persons; may or may not have 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 your family is income eligible, the Housing Authority compares your annual income to the applicable income limit for your 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 family from the Section 8 Program.
Generally, if you qualify for assistance the Authority will calculate your income from all sources, and arrive at an annual gross income. There are subtracted allowances and deductions you may be entitled to, 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 to Use the Voucher
When a voucher is issued, you will have 60 days to locate housing which meets HUD standards, with regard to rent level and condition of the unit. You can live anywhere you choose (within Dauphin County, outside the City of Harrisburg), in any neighborhood, school district, and in any municipality which best meets your needs for employment, transportation, childcare and other factors.
Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Inspection
When you find a rental unit that meets your needs and the landlord is willing to participate in the Section 8 Program, you and your landlord will fill out and submit a Request for Tenancy Approval. This form will result in a HQS inspection of the rental unit. If there are any deficiencies, your landlord will have to correct them before any further action can be taken.
Once the rental units pass the HQS inspection, the Housing Authority caseworker will prepare a HAP Contract and a lease will also be prepared with the same dates and rental amounts. The lease is a contract, which spells out the obligations and responsibilities of both you and your landlord.
Signatures are required for both the HAP Contract and lease.
Housing Assistance Payments to the Landlord
After the HAP Contract is signed and you occupy the Section 8 assisted unit, you and the Housing Authority will begin to make monthly payments to the landlord.
Need to Move?
After being assisted for at least one year in Dauphin County, you can take your 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 renting in their area of operation – this could include payment standards, utility allowances, and the number of bedrooms on the voucher.
Family Obligations to the Owner
Your obligations to the owner are listed in the lease and may appear on the signed Voucher. Obligations include not damaging the unit or permitting any guest to damage the unit or premises; paying the rent on time; keeping utilities in service; and being respectful of your neighbors by not interfering with their right to live in a safe and peaceful environment.
Family Obligations to the Housing Authority
You must provide all required information accurately and in a timely manner to the Housing Authority. Family members should not commit any serious or repeated violation of the lease, or engage in fraud, bribery, drug related activities or violent criminal behavior.
In accordance with HUD requirements, the Housing 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 to complete, sign and return promptly to the Housing Authority office. Families must state and certify its income and family composition.
Based on the verified information provided in the recertification documents, the Housing Authority determines the family portion of the rent for the year. Families will be given an approximate 30 day notice of the new rent amount.
During this time, rental units will be inspected to determine compliance with the Section 8 Program HQS. If there are any deficiencies, the landlord will have to make the appropriate repairs.
Interim Reporting Requirements
Families who have a monthly income increase of $300 or more are required to report it to the Housing Authority, in writing, within 14 days of the increase. Any asset that increases the income of $300 per month or more should also be reported.
If there are any changes within the household between annual reexaminations, such as family additions due to birth, adoption and court awarded custody, this must be reported to the Housing Authority. Families must obtain Housing Authority approval prior to all other additions to the household.