The Housing Choice Voucher program helps low-income families by providing vouchers that can be used to pay the rent (or a portion of the rent) on the home of their choosing. This “tenant-based” assistance is funded by HUD, but administered by Public Housing Authorities, such as the Mercer County Housing Authority.
Families are responsible for finding appropriate accommodations and for negotiating the terms of the rental contract. Housing units have to meet certain Housing Quality Standards and they must pass inspection before they can be rented.
Once these conditions have been met, MCHA sets up a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract and makes to the landlord on behalf of the family. These payments are based on an established payment standard. The family is responsible for paying the remaining monthly rent balance, if any, on their own.
In order for the Housing Choice Voucher program to work for everyone, each of the three parties involved has to meet their responsibilities.
Mercer County Housing Authority—Responsible for certifying and recertifying tenants, for inspecting the unit, for approving the lease and for executing the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract. The Housing Authority also determines how much assistance the tenant will receive and for making payments to the landlord on behalf of the tenant. Finally, the Housing Authority monitors the program and makes sure that all parties are in compliance with all applicable regulations.
Landlord—Responsible for performing all management and rental functions and performing necessary maintenance. Also responsible for ensuring that the unit is safe, sanitary, and secure and meets HUD’s Housing Quality Standards. If the landlord is supplying utilities, they are responsible for paying utilities in a timely manner. Landlords are also responsible for complying with the HAP contract and the terms of the lease agreed to with the tenant.
Families—Responsible for finding suitable housing and for providing MCHA with the income and family information needed to verify and certify program eligibility. Families must provide this information on an annual basis to maintain eligibility. Families must keep the unit in a sanitary condition and not damage the unit. They must allow MCHA to inspect the unit on a regular basis. Finally, families must abide by the obligations of the lease in order to remain in the Housing Choice Voucher program.
When all of these components are combined, the Housing Choice Voucher program works for everyone. Whether you are currently participating as a landlord or are considering participating, MCHA thanks you for your interest and willingness to accept rental assistance on behalf of families who deserve a safe, healthy and affordable home.