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Process

Voucher Process
When a household becomes eligible for a voucher and RHA has funding available, they are scheduled for a “briefing”.

Briefing

When a household becomes eligible for a voucher and RHA has funding available, they are scheduled for a “briefing”.  The briefing is a meeting where the participants learn:

  • How the program works
  • The program rules, including how and when to report changes in the household, absences from the unit, and overall family obligations
  • The size of the unit that the household may select, in terms of number of bedrooms
  • The monetary value of the voucher, meaning how much they can count on the program to pay towards their rent, based upon their current household size and income
  • How utility bills work
  • How and what to look for in a unit

Searching

A benefit to the participants in a voucher program is that they are in charge of choosing where they want to live. Participants search for housing opportunities by using common resources like newspapers or other publications, websites and search engines, social media, housing associations, and word-of-mouth. Some social service agencies provide ‘housing locator’ help as part of their mission. Sometimes, landlords contact RHA to help with marketing their available units, and RHA will place their name on a list to be shared with those searching for units. RHA staff actively recruit new landlords so that participants have access to the greatest possible choices and opportunities.

Request For Tenancy Approval

When the participant finds a desired unit and determines that the landlord is willing to participate in the voucher program, the landlord completes a form called a “Request for Tenancy Approval”. This form details information including details about the rental unit, the cost of the rent, what is and is not included in the rent, and the rent terms. (It is important to note that in most cases, the lease must be for at least one year for the first year but may be of a different duration in future years.) This form must be returned to RHA, along with a copy of a signed lease agreement. An evaluation is made to determine whether the participant’s desired unit is affordable to the household, and whether the rent is reasonable in relation to local market conditions.

Inspection

Next, the unit is scheduled for inspection. In accordance with requirements from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, units are screened to determine that they meet health and safety requirements.

Approval

Once the unit has passed the inspection and the rent has been determined to be both reasonable and affordable, the participant and landlord are contacted to let them know that they are free to together determine the lease-up date.  The landlord will receive a copy of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract, which must be executed and returned in order for payments to begin.  The participant will also receive a letter, informing him/her as to the amount of rent that is expected to be paid by the participant, directly to the landlord.

It’s important to note that during the participant’s tenancy, RHA cannot mediate issues between the tenant and the landlord.  Landlord and tenants must abide by all usual laws of the Commonwealth related to lease terms and obligations and use the usual resources to settle differences or address claims.

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