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Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV)

        Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program was enacted in 1974 as Section 8 of the United States Housing Act. On the federal level, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers the program and locally, vouchers are administered by public housing agencies (PHAs). Congress annually appropriates funds for vouchers. Public Housing Authorities, Like the Chicago Housing Authority are given a set number of vouchers that they are authorized to use each year.

        When an applicant receives a voucher from the local Public Housing Authority, the applicant must find a unit on the private market. The owner of the unit enters into a Housing Assistance Payment Contract with the PHA and signs a lease with the tenant. The key features of the HCV program are mobility portability, which permits voucher holders to move to the jurisdiction of another PHA and retain the voucher.

Project Based Vouchers

        A variation on the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is the Project-Based Voucher (or “Project-Based Certificate” for commitments prior to 2001) program. Under this program, PHA uses a portion of its Housing Choice Voucher funds to attach voucher assistance to particular units through Housing Assistance Payment

        (HAP) contracts with private landlords. PHAs enter into initial HAP contracts for 15-20 years year terms and may agree to extend the initial or renewed HAP contract for up to 20 additional years. PHAs usually cannot assign PBVs for more than 25% of the units (or 25 units, whichever is greater) in a project. PHAs refer eligible tenants from its Housing Choice Voucher waiting list to private landlords for available units. Good cause is required for the owner to terminate or not renew a tenant’s lease. After living at the property for 12 months, tenants may request tenant-based rental assistance from the PHA to move from the property. If a family chooses to move, the PBV assistance remains with the building, to be used by the next occupant, for the length of the HAP contract between the PHA and the landlord.

Project Based Rental Assistance

        Project-based rental assistance provides critical affordable housing stock to low-income families across the country. This type of rental assistance allows tenants to live in an affordable unit and pay rent based upon their income. Project-based rental assistance, such as project-based Section 8 rental assistance, can be paired with units in HUD multifamily mortgage programs to provide a deeper level of affordability. With project-based rental assistance, a private for-profit or non-profit owner enters into a contract with HUD to provide affordable units.


*Project-based assistance is tied to particular units, and does not travel with individual tenants.

Section 202 and Section 811

        The HUD Section 202 and Section 811 programs provide critical affordable housing to our nation’s elderly and persons who experience disabilities. The Section 202 and Section 811 programs became distinct programs in 1990; before that time, the Section 202 program served both populations. The Section 202 program funds development of affordable housing for elderly households. The Section 811 program provides non-profits with funding to provide supportive housing for disabled, very- and extremely-low-income persons.

        Some Section 202 and Section 811 properties are unassisted. This means that tenants pay a budget-based rent based on the operating costs of the property. Newer Section 202/811 units exclusively receive rental assistance, meaning that tenants pay 30 percent of their adjusted income.

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