Section 8 FAQ

Southwestern Idaho Cooperative Housing Authority (SICHA), under contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), administers the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance program for Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Washington and Valley counties in Southwest Idaho.

What are Housing Choice Vouchers?

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly and persons with disabilities to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private rental housing market. Since assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses, apartments and manufactured homes.

The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is therefore not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.

A family that is issued a HCV is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family's choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. This unit may include the family's present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by HUD Housing Quality Standards (HQS). SICHA pays a housing subsidy to the landlord on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.

Am I eligible?

SICHA determines eligibility for a HCV based on the total annual gross income and family size. It is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, the family's income may not exceed 50% of the median income. By law, SICHA must provide 75% of its vouchers to applicants whose income does not exceed 30% of the area median income. Median income levels are published by HUD and vary by location.

During the application process, SICHA will collect information on family income, assets and family composition. SICHA will verify this information with other local agencies, your employer and bank, and will use the information to determine program eligibility and the amount of the housing assistance payment.

What are local preferences and waiting lists and how do they affect me?

Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and local housing agencies, waiting periods are common. In fact, Housing Authorities have the option of closing their waiting list at any time when they have more families on the list than can be assisted. SICHA does not currently have any local preferences.

How do Housing Choice Vouchers work?

The HCV program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. A very low-income participanting family is encouraged to consider several housing choices to secure the best housing for the family’s needs. The number of bedrooms for which a voucher participant is eligible is determined by family size and regulations pertaining to occupancy standards.

SICHA determines the payment standard that is needed to rent a moderately-priced unit in the local housing market and this standard is used to calculate the amount of housing assistance a family will receive. The payment standard does not limit or affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family may pay. The family can select a unit with a rent that is below or above the payment standard depending on their income.

The housing unit must pass inspection before SICHA can approve the unit. When the voucher holder finds a unit, SICHA must inspect the unit and determine if the rent requested is reasonable. A family with a HCV must pay 30% of their monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities and, if the unit rent is greater than the payment standard, the family is required to pay the additional amount. By law, whenever a housing assistance payment contract is initiated and where the rent exceeds the payment standard, the family may not pay more than 40% of their adjusted monthly income for rent and utilities. No payments will be made to the landlord until the unit passes inspection and contracts are in place.

Can I move and still receive voucher assistance?

A family's housing needs change over time with changes in family size, job locations or other reasons. The HCV program is designed to allow families to move without the loss of housing assistance. Moves are permissible as long as the family notifies SICHA ahead of time, terminates its existing lease within the lease provisions and finds acceptable alternate housing. Check with SICHA about specific requirements related to moving.

Tenant's Obligations

After SICHA approves the unit and lease agreement, the family signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. After the first year the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease. When the family is settled in a new home, the family is expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay their share of the rent on time, maintain the rental unit in good condition and notify SICHA of any changes in income or family composition.

Landlord's Obligations

The role of the landlord in the Voucher program is to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The unit must pass the program's HQS inspection and be maintained to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with SICHA.

SICHA’s Obligations

SICHA enters into a contract with the landlord to provide Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet the owner's obligations under the lease, SICHA has the right to terminate assistance payments. SICHA must re-examine the family's income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least annually to ensure that it meets minimum HQS.