Housing Choice Voucher Program

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, formerly known as Section 8, is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing that meets the requirements of the program and are not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.

Public housing agencies (PHAs) administer the HCV Program locally with federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

When an eligible family finds suitable housing where the owner agrees to rent under the program, the unit is inspected to ensure that it is maintained in a decent and safe condition. After the unit is approved, a monthly housing subsidy is paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the family and the family pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the owner and the subsidy.


Eligibility for the program is determined based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. To be eligible, 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 can be found online, or by contacting the local PHA.

Waiting Lists

As the demand for rental assistance almost always exceeds the amount of HCV program funding available, PHAs are usually unable to assist applicants immediately. As a result, interested applicants are placed on a waiting list. If this waiting list becomes very long, it may even be closed until more funding is received or until the PHA is able to move more families from the list to the program. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to be on a waiting list for months or even years to get into the program.


Once a waiting list is open and you are able to apply, the PHA will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition and will use the information to determine program eligibility. If the PHA determines that your family is eligible, the PHA will put your name on a waiting list and then contact you when it is able to assist you.

To see if any of our PHAs are currently accepting applications, please see the corresponding PHA page.


A family's housing needs may change over time with changes in family size, job locations, or for 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 the PHA ahead of time, terminates its existing lease within the lease provisions, and finds acceptable alternate housing. If the family wishes to move outside of their current PHA jurisdiction, the PHA may transfer the assistance to a different housing agency to provide the assistance. This benefit of the HCV Program is called portability.

The Consortium of Northwest Ohio allows new voucher-holders to utilize portability right away if the family lived in the jurisdiction of the PHA issuing the voucher when the family applied for assistance. New voucher-holders living outside the jurisdiction of the PHA at the time the family applied for housing assistance must initially lease a unit within the jurisdiction for one year before utilizing portability.