Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV) (previously known as Section 8) offers its low-income participants the freedom of choice in finding a privately owned housing unit. The selected unit must meet HUD approved Housing Quality Standards (HQS) upon inspection and the rent for the unit must be determined to be reasonable.
Participants are provided a voucher allowing them to rent housing owned by a private landlord. The landlord must agree to participate with the HCV program. The voucher does have an expiration date, so participants must be aware of their deadlines in finding a unit. This tenant-based program does allow for tenants to move to other units and keep their assistance at the new unit. It is important to properly follow regulations on providing proper notice to landlords and housing authority staff when doing so; please contact your case manager.
Application – Pre-applications for assistance can only be accepted when the Waiting List has been determined open to accept them. Online pre-applications to an Open waiting list can be processed here. Open waiting list pre-applications can be accepted at the Erie Metropolitan Housing Authority office located at 322 Warren Street; Sandusky , Ohio 44870. The office hours of public operation are Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Hard copy applications/pre-applications may be picked up at the main office of Erie MHA at 322 Warren Street when a waiting list is open, but online pre-application is encouraged.
Application information may need to be verified in order to continue processing the application. Applicants will be contacted to verify such information as they near the top of the waiting list. Therefore, it is extremely important that applicants keep their contact information up to date. After determining final eligibility, applicants will review with their case manager the briefing video and Tenant Briefing Information Packet on the program requirements. After being briefed, applicants will be contacted to receive their voucher. Voucher holders will be provided a Request for Tenancy Approval form which authorizes the housing authority to schedule an inspection of the housing unit to determine if it meets HUD’s Housing Quality Standards.
As discussed in the briefing session, voucher holders should carefully consider where to find a rental unit. Items that could be considered are areas outside of the City of Sandusky, proximity to schools, proximity to work, available transportation, neighborhood watch groups, environment in daytime and nighttime hours, and closeness to other community resources. Erie Metropolitan Housing Authority maintains a listing of landlords who provide information about available units which can be downloaded here or picked up at the office. Many landlords also advertise units available in local newspapers or publications.
Once an acceptable unit is determined, the voucher holder and landlord will meet with the case manager to complete the rest of the required paperwork, including but not limited to, determining the level of subsidy, approving the lease, and executing a Housing Assistance Payment contract.
Voucher program units must be inspected each year to ensure the units continue to meet HUD’s Housing Quality Standards.
Homeownership Option: Erie Metropolitan Housing Authority does offer a Homeownership Option with its Voucher program. In certain circumstances, the agency is able to subsidize a mortgage for the family rather than rent to a private landlord. Please contact your case manager for more information about this opportunity. Homeownership option requirements can be downloaded here.
Family Self Sufficiency: Erie Metropolitan Housing Authority’s voluntary Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program was established to help HCV participants become economically self-sufficient. The journey to self-sufficiency is different for each participant and can include goals like obtaining a GED, finding better employment, going back to school, improving credit score, and saving funds for a down payment on a home. FSS participants can earn “escrow” savings when their earned income results in an increase in their portion of their rent payment. Upon successful completion of the self-sufficiency goals, the escrow account funds can be awarded to the FSS participant.
Enterprise Income Verification (EIV)
Housing Authorities are required to utilize income verification methods including those provided by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. The EIV system provides information to the Housing Authority. A brochure about What You Should Know About EIV can be downloaded here.
Landlords are encouraged to participate with the agency’s voucher program. There are many benefits to accepting participants with this program including: Agency portion of the rent is sent to you on the second business day of each month, direct deposit is available for this payment, Erie Metropolitan Housing Authority conducts an annual inspection of your unit, participants must comply with program regulations and their lease to maintain assistance, and federal funding received to support this program are tax dollars that return to our area and are paid to business persons who are landlords in Erie County. Additional information packets are available at the Erie Metropolitan Housing Authority office for landlords to obtain at their convenience.
Click here to visit HUD’s New HCV Landlord Resources Webpage
Click here to see HUD’s flow chart of the HCV Lease Up Process.