Housing Choice Voucher Program


This program is for the Sierra County jurisdiction only.

If you have questions regarding other counties or states please contact the US Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Housing Choice Voucher Coordinator

Email: fss@torchousing.org
Phone: 575-894-2244 ext. 132

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to rent decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. Since the rental assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find and lease privately owned housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects. Housing may be found not only in Truth or Consequences but anywhere in Sierra County.

Eligibility for a Housing Choice Voucher is based on the total adjusted annual income and family size and is limited to U.S. 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 for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. Median income levels are published by HUD and vary by location.

During the application process, an applicant supplies proof of family income, assets and family composition to determine program eligibility and the amount of the rental assistance payment. Call, mail, e-mail or drop by the Housing Authority for an application, or download by clicking the button:

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How Vouchers Function

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. A very low-income family who has been selected to participate is encouraged to consider several housing choices to secure the best rental housing for its needs.

The rental unit must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before the payments to landlords under the HCV program can be approved. When the HCV holder finds a unit that it wishes to occupy and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the dwelling must be inspected and the lease must be reviewed for approval by the Housing Authority. The holder of an HCV must adhere to rules regarding the unit size for which they are eligible based on family size and composition, and applicable rent levels.

In the HCV program, the Housing Authority determines a payment standard based on HUD determined Fair Market Rents. These payment standard amounts are used to calculate the amount of rental assistance a family will receive, but does not affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family may pay. A family which receives an HCV can select a unit which rents below or above the payment standard.

Family Share of Rent Versus the Rent Subsidy

Under this program, a family may choose a unit that rents for more than the payment standard and may pay more or less than 30% of its monthly adjusted gross income for rent. The Housing Authority calculates the maximum amount of rental assistance allowable, which is the difference between the payments standard and 30% of the family’s monthly adjusted gross income, and pays rental assistance. The amount of rental assistance paid by the Housing Authority changes with the payment standard while the amount the tenant pays varies with the actual rent charged and whether the tenant or the landlord pays for some or all of the utilities. The family’s rent share also changes when its income or family circumstances change.

Can I move and continue to receive Housing Choice Voucher Rental Assistance?

This is called Portability. A family’s housing needs change over time with changes in family size, job locations, and for other reasons. The housing choice voucher program is designed to allow families to move without the loss of rental assistance. Moves are permissible as long as the family notifies the Housing Authority ahead of time, terminates its existing lease within the appropriate provisions, and finds acceptable alternate housing. Only one move is usually permitted during a 12 month period. Moves may be restricted due to funding at any time.

All new voucher holders must lease within Sierra County the first 12 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Housing Choice Voucher (formerly Section 8)?

H.C.V. is HUD’s program managed by the Housing Authority for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to rent decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market (privately owned housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments). The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements and can find housing not only in Truth or Consequences but anywhere in Sierra County. These are tenant based vouchers and after satisfying certain requirements, assistance can move with the tenant.

Can I move while I’m in the program?

The rental voucher program is designed to allow families to move without the loss of rental assistance, however, they must initially lease a unit within Sierra County for the first twelve months of assistance. Moves are permissible as long as the family notifies the Housing Authority ahead of time, terminates its existing lease within the appropriate provisions, and finds acceptable alternate housing.

What is the tenant’s role?

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, is expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay its share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition, and notify the Housing Authority of any changes in income or family composition. 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. Failure to comply with the lease and program requirements could result in termination of assistance.

What is the landlord’s role?

To provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program’s housing standards and be maintained up 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 the Housing Authority.

What is the Housing Authority’s role?

To administer the rental voucher program locally, provide a family with the rental assistance that enables the family to seek out suitable housing and the Housing Authority enters into a contract with the landlord to provide rental assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet his/her obligations under the lease, the Housing Authority has the right to terminate assistance payments.

What is HUD’s (Housing & Urban Development) role?

To cover the cost of the program, HUD provides funds to allow the Housing Authority to make housing assistance payments on behalf of the families and HUD pays the Housing Authority a fee for the costs of administering the program.

What are the Housing Choice Voucher payment standards?

Please contact the Housing Authority for current payment standard information.

Who is responsible for the security deposit?

The security deposit is between the landlord and the tenant. The Housing Authority’s role is to make sure that it complies with the State Law.