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What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a housing assistance program designed to help low-income families. Although the program is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), it is operated at the local level through Public Housing Authorities (PHAs).

Through the Housing Choice Voucher Program, families are provided with vouchers that can be used to help pay for the rent on the home of their choosing. Since tenants are free to choose where they want to live through the program, the vouchers are commonly referred to as "tenant-based" assistance.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is often incorrectly referred to as the Section 8 program. In reality, the Section 8 program was established in 1974 and was later changed to the Housing Choice Voucher Program in 1998 when Congress merged the certificate and voucher components of the Section 8 program. Today, there are thousands of housing authorities located throughout the United States, with each being responsible for overseeing a specific geographic location. The Housing Authority makes monthly payments to the owner of the property on behalf of the family, but the family is responsible for paying the remaining monthly balance on its own.

Although rental units must meet HUD Housing Quality Standards and must pass inspection before it can qualify for the program, the family is responsible for finding the accommodations and for negotiating the terms on its own. If the property passes the inspection and meets quality standards, the Housing Authority will then form a contract with the landlord.

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