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  • Writer's pictureMuriel Vega

(Most) everything you need to know about Housing Choice Vouchers, aka Section 8

The program waitlist is open for the first time since 2021—but only for a few days. Here are the FAQs about HCVs.

 
Illustration by Khoa Tran
The Housing Choice Voucher program wait list is open for applications until October 20, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. Scroll down for eligibility requirements.

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, formerly known as Section 8, helps low-income families and individuals get safe housing by providing them an income-based subsidy to rent in the private market.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees the HCV program. It administers federal aid to public housing agencies (PHAs) that manage housing for low-income residents. In Georgia's case, HUD distributes the Housing Choice Voucher funds through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) for 149 counties in the state. (Clayton, Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, Muscogee, Bibb, Glynn, Chatham, Sumter, and Richmond each have their own HCV authorities.)


With a Housing Choice Voucher, the tenant pays 30 percent of their income toward rent and utilities while the landlord receives assistance payments directly from the program. The initial term of the lease must be at least one year, and the tenant is responsible for their own security deposit, the amount of which can vary. (In DeKalb County, it cannot exceed a month’s rent.) In exchange, landlords that have chosen to rent to HCV recipients must provide adequate housing to eligible participants. They must comply with the Fair Housing Act, lease terms, and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract. This contract is an agreement between the public housing agency and the owner of the unit where the HCV participant will live (aka the landlord). As a benefit, HCVs guarantee a landlord income every month.


In Georgia, landlords are not legally required to accept HCV vouchers or other rent subsidies. The City of Atlanta passed an ordinance in 2020 to prevent discrimination based on income level; however, it remains unenforceable due to state law.


In Georgia, landlords are not legally required to accept HCV vouchers or other rent subsidies. The City of Atlanta passed an ordinance in 2020 to prevent discrimination based on income level; however, it remains unenforceable due to state law.

FAQs | tenants

 

Who is eligible for a Housing Choice Voucher?

To be eligible for the program in Georgia, you must . . .

  • be a U.S. citizen or have an eligible immigrant status.

  • meet the definition of a family (one or more individuals who live together) set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

  • meet income requirements set by HUD. (Find the 2022 income limits here.)

  • pass a criminal background check. (Read more about that here.)

  • be 18 years of age or older.

  • have a valid social security number.

There are tenant-based and project-based vouchers. What’s the difference?

How do I apply for the program? When does the waiting list open?

What happens next?

What kind of housing can I rent with a Housing Choice Voucher?

How much rent do I have to pay with a Housing Choice Voucher?

What happens if I lose my job while I am an HCV tenant?

What happens if there’s a change in my household?


FAQs | landlords

 

How do I know if my property is eligible?

Any type of dwelling, from apartments and duplexes to houses, can be part of the HCV program as long as it is inside the relevant housing authority’s jurisdiction, it can pass inspection, and the rent is comparable to market rates.

How do I select a tenant for my unit?

What if I want to increase the rent?

What if I don’t want to renew the tenant’s lease?

What about a move-out inspection?

As a landlord, how can I get my property Housing Choice Voucher approved?


 

Resources:

More information from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs: Waiting List Openings Applicant Information Participant Information

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