Section 8 FAQs
The voucher program is designed to achieve three major objectives:
- To provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing for very low-income families while maintaining their rent payments at an affordable level.
- To promote freedom of housing choice for very low-income families of all races and ethnic backgrounds.
- To provide an incentive to private property owners to rent to very low-income families by offering timely assistance payments.
How do I get on the voucher program?
In order to be eligible to participate in the Voucher Program, you must first be on the waiting list. Vouchers are given to the persons on the waiting list when they have been selected by date, time, and preference.
Do I have to be on state welfare in order to be eligible for Section 8 assistance?
No, however, you must be at or below the very-low-income limits set by HUD to be eligible. Most all selections will be for the extremely low-income guidelines.
What are the household size / income limits for the voucher program?
The household size / income limits for the voucher program are as follows:
- 1 - $18,700
- 2 - $21,400
- 3 - $24,050
- 4 - $26,700
- 5 - $28,850
- 6 - $31,000
- 7 - $33,150
- 8 - $35,250
What if I am working?
You may still be eligible to participate providing your family income does not exceed the income limits for your family size.
When will I be helped?
The Housing Choice Voucher program is not an emergency housing program; therefore, assistance is not readily available for each applicant. A waiting list has been established and each applicant receives a number on the waiting list. Once their number is reached, the applicant is notified by mail and an appointment is scheduled. Determination of eligibility is conducted shortly thereafter. Due to limited funding, availability of Vouchers, and length of time participants remain on the program, applicants may be on the waiting list for several years.
I am homeless and need help. What can I do?
We have information regarding shelter, food, healthcare, jobs, and other benefits.
I received a letter to call an Occupancy Specialist, what does that mean?
Your application was received; you were put on the waiting list, now you have been selected to see if you are eligible to receive a Voucher. You will be asked to come to an interview to verify household composition, family income, provide birth certificates, social security cards for each household member, and sign and date forms needed to verify your eligibility.
How long from the interview, do I get a voucher?
The verification process is anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks long.
I cannot come to the interview; can my mother come on my behalf?
No, all adult members are required to attend the interview and sign the applicable documents and verifications forms. If any of the adult members are unable to attend, we will reschedule the family.
I missed my scheduled appointment, now what?
It is the applicant's responsibility to reschedule the interview if he/she misses the appointment. If the applicant does not reschedule or misses 2 scheduled meetings, HACG will reject the application, unless the applicant can provide acceptable documentation to HACG that an emergency prevented them from calling or attending. HACG will not reschedule the appointment more than twice.
What are housing vouchers?
The Housing Choice (Section 8) 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 houses, mobile homes, townhouses, and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program.
Does the Housing Authority staff find me housing, once I am on the program?
No, available apartments, houses, etc. can be found on the following website: www.georgiahousingsearch.org.
If a unit is on the list, does that mean it already qualifies for the Voucher program?
No, just because the unit is listed does not mean that it qualifies for the Voucher program. There are several steps that have to be reviewed before it is considered appropriate for the Voucher program.
Do I have to pay the Housing Authority to conduct an inspection?
No, the Housing Authority will conduct the inspection at no cost to the tenant.
How long can I remain on the voucher program?
You may remain on the program as long as 30% of your adjusted gross income does not exceed your entire amount of rent, you also must not violate any family obligations under the program's regulations.
What if I have more questions about the voucher program?
All voucher holders are required to attend a briefing session prior to participation in the program. You will actually receive your voucher at this session. This allows Assisted Housing staff to explain the program in its entirety so participants understand the rules and regulations of the program.
What are the terms of a lease?
The initial term is for one year.
Can I move in before I receive a voucher?
Yes, but please be aware that you are responsible for all portions of rent until the unit passes inspection and HACG enters into a contract with the owner. It is in your best interest to wait until everything has been completed.
Other Important Details & Information
Voucher Participants: Reporting Changes in Income or Family Composition
All changes in income (increases and decreases) or household members must be reported to your Occupancy Specialist in writing within 10 days of the change.
Moving with Continued Assistance
After the initial lease term, tenants can move to a new unit and apply their subsidy to the new unit.
Before considering a move to a new unit, all Voucher holders must contact their Case Manager at 60 days before the month they would like to move. A request to move does not guarantee that you will be able to move. You will be contacted by HACG and given a date and time to begin the paperwork for the move process. Do not give your notice to your landlord until you have your appointment with HACG.
Housing Choice Vouchers are "portable". Voucher holders who live in Columbus may transfer their assistance outside the Columbus city limits. If you chose to transfer your assistance outside the Columbus city limits, you must contact your Occupancy Specialist.
Please be aware that HACG limits ports into and out of Columbus to verifiable employment reasons.
Responsibilities of the Family
- Provide HACG with complete and accurate information
- Comply with the Family Obligations listed on the Voucher
- Cooperate in attending all appointments scheduled with HACG
- Locate a unit that is suitable for the family, meets HQS requirements and meets rent reasonableness
- Keep the unit safe and sanitary
- Comply with the terms of the lease with the owner/landlord
- Notify HACG of any changes in income or family composition within 10 days of the change
- Cooperate with the owner/landlord by informing him/her of any necessary repairs
Responsibilities of the Landlord
- Comply with fair housing laws and equal opportunity requirements
- Comply with the terms of the Housing Assistance Payment Contract
- Ensure the unit continues to meet HQS requirements
- Cooperate with the tenant by responding promptly to request for needed repairs
- Enforce the lease, collect the rent due, any security deposit and charges for damages to the unit by the family
- Screen families for suitability as renters
- Notify HACG in writing of any address or telephone number changes
- Notify HACG in writing of any changes in ownership or management of property
Responsibilities of The Housing Authority of Columbus, Georgia
- Verify and review family composition and income to determine eligibility
- Explain the rules of the program to the family and the landlord
- Issue a Voucher to the family
- Perform Housing Quality Standards inspection to ensure the unit meets minimum standards (initially and annually)
- Sign contracts with owner/landlord on behalf of the family when the selected unit meets HQS requirements
- Make housing assistance payments to the owner/landlord in a timely manner
- Ensure owner/landlord and family continue to comply with program rules