What is Section 8?
The Housing Choice Voucher program (HCV), commonly referred to as Section 8, is a federal rent subsidy program under the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that provides vouchers to eligible households. The program provides rental assistance to private landlords for approved units selected by the voucher holder. The Punta Gorda Housing Authority (PGHA) administers approximately 500 vouchers in Charlotte County.
Applying for a Voucher
A person interested in receiving a Section 8 voucher must begin by applying for the wait list. Section 8 applications are not always available; therefore, an applicant must wait until the list is open. Some key points to this process are the following:
- Section 8 applicants must meet the income limits for their family size
- Section 8 applicants must be 18 years or older
- Local Preferences are given to elderly applicants, disabled households, working families, and victims of a disaster, as declared by the Executive Director of the Housing Authority
- Section 8 applicants must provide proof of legal status, birth certificates, and social security cards
- If applicable, the following court documents are needed: marriage license, divorce decree, and child support court order
Locating a Rental Unit in Charlotte County
The voucher holder is responsible for finding private housing and submitting the Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) to the housing agency before the voucher expires. You can search for housing at floridahousingsearch.org or through other local resources. The housing authority inspector will schedule an inspection to determine compliance with Housing Quality Standards (HQS).
Listed below are some of the criteria used to determine approval of a unit.
- The unit must pass HQS inspection;
- The rental price must be within the local market prices and meet the rent reasonableness survey;
- The family cannot pay more than 40% of their income towards rent;
- The family must enter into a 1-year rental lease agreement with landlord and a copy of the lease must be submitted to PGHA; and
- Section 8 applicants must meet the income limits for their family size.
Inspection and Lease Up
PGHA will determine if the unit selected meets HQS requirements. The rental unit must also meet minimum city and county codes, these codes include operable windows and good condition of paint & window screens. Once the unit has passed inspection, the rental amount must be approved by PGHA’s Section 8 staff to make sure it meets rent reasonableness guidelines and the 40% CAP rule. The landlord and tenant must sign a 1-year rental agreement and submit a copy to the Section 8 representative. The Section 8 representative will execute a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract with the property owner. The effective dates and rent amounts on the Lease Agreement must match the HAP Contract. Payments will be sent directly to the landlord on the 1st of each month.