Participants in the HCV Program must meet a number of requirements detailed in AHA’s HCV Program Administrative Plan such as the following:
- Currently on the HCV Program Waiting List
- Meet income limits specified by HUD
- Pass a criminal background check
How the Program Works
With funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, AHA’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program helps low-income households choose and pay for quality housing by paying a portion of their rent.
Because there are more families who need rental assistance than there are funds available, AHA uses a waiting list to administer the program to eligible families.
Typically, when a voucher becomes available, the next family at the top of the waiting list is contacted and screened for eligibility. In some cases, a family may meet certain preference requirements explained in the Aiken Housing Authority HCV Section 8 Program Administrative Plan. In those cases, AHA might move those families to the top of the waiting list. Once selected from the waiting list, eligible families that meet the income guidelines and fulfill other requirements will receive a voucher.
Several steps to guide an applicant into a participant into the HCV Program:
- Apply and interview
- Attend a voucher briefing
- Use your voucher
- Await inspection results
- Await rent decision
- Sign the lease
- Move in, pay rent and utilities
- Be a good tenant
To participate in the HCV Program, families and Owners must make and uphold certain commitments to AHA and each other:
Family obligations included but are not limited to:
- Comply with HCV Program rules and regulations, including the Family Obligations
- Comply with the terms of the lease with the Owner
- Permit housing inspections (HQS)
- Report changes in income and household composition
- Maintain the unit in good condition throughout the term of the lease
Owner obligations included but are not limited to:
- Screen all applicants for suitability as tenants
- Collect the tenant’s portion of the rent and or security deposit
- Comply with Landlord/Tenant and Fair Housing laws
- Comply with the terms of the lease with the tenant
- Comply with the terms of the HAP Contract with the HCV Section 8 program
- Permit inspections
- Make timely repairs to keep the property in good condition
Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Inspections
As explained in AHA’s HCV Section 8 Program Administrative Plan, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that all units subsidized under the Housing Choice Voucher Program meet a minimum standard of health and safety rules called Housing Quality Standards (HQS). To ensure compliance, AHA or its contractors must inspect any unit a participant wants to rent before they move in and as required thereafter.
An HQS inspection ensures that all HCV Section 8 Program units have adequate living space for the family, are structurally sound, provide the necessary habitability systems (electricity, plumbing, heating, appliances, etc.) and present no conditions that endanger health and safety.
The HQS Inspection Guidebook, along with HUD’s Form 52580-A further explains the minimum unit standards necessary to participate in the HCV Program.
The information below is a general summary of the types of inspections conducted by Aiken Housing Authority HCV Section 8 Inspector. For more detailed information, see Aiken Housing Authority HCV Section 8 Program Administrative Plan.
New Move (Initial) Inspection
The initial inspection process begins when AHA receives the completed forms from the Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) packet. The HCV Section 8 department will contact the Owner at the number provided with the RFTA to schedule the inspection.
The family is usually not involved in the initial inspection process and only the Owner or their agent may schedule the appointment. Most Owners, however, remain in touch with the prospective tenant during the inspection process.
HUD requires an inspection of all HCV Program participating units no later than 12 months after the previous full inspection. AHA will notify the Participant and Owner of the Annual HQS inspection appointment via postal mail.
If a unit passes an inspection, no further action is necessary. If the unit fails an inspection, the Owner and/or Participant have 30 days to make the required repairs (24 hours for emergency items) and to pass re-inspection. Otherwise, AHA will abate the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) until the unit passes inspection. If the failed items are the fault of the participating family, AHA will begin termination proceedings.
The owner or participant will be given time to correct the failed items cited on the inspection report for a unit already under contract. If the failed items endanger the family’s health or safety the owner or participant will be given 24 hours to correct the violations. For less serious failures, the owner or participant will be given up to 30 calendar days to correct the failed item(s).
Serious deficiencies that threaten the health and safety of the participating family must be corrected within 24 hours. Upon discovery of an emergency deficiency during any type of inspection, the inspector will immediately notify the Owner and Participant of the situation either in person or by phone.
If emergency deficiencies remain unresolved after the re-inspection, abatement of the HAP may occur (for deficiencies that are the responsibility of the Owner) or termination procedures may commence against the Participant (for deficiencies that are the responsibility of the Participant). Abatement or termination processes will proceed until the property passes inspection.
Below is a list of some of the most commonly cited emergency deficiencies.
To view the complete list, available in the HCV Section 8 Program Administrative Plan.
- Any condition that jeopardizes the security of the unit (e.g., missing or broken locks on exterior doors)
- Major plumbing leaks, a waterlogged ceiling or a floor in imminent danger of falling
- Natural or LP gas or fuel/oil leaks
- Any electrical problem or condition that could result in shock or fire
- Utilities not in service
- Conditions that present an imminent likelihood of injury
- Unmovable obstacles that prevent safe entrance or exit from the unit
- Absence of a functioning toilet in the unit
- Backed up sewer system in the unit
- Required smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors that are inoperable or missing
When a unit fails to meet HQS and the owner has been given an opportunity to correct the deficiencies, but has failed to do so within the required timeframe, the rent for the dwelling unit will be abated as of the first day of the next month.
The initial abatement period will not exceed 7 days. If the corrections of deficiencies are not made within the 7-day timeframe, the abatement will continue until the HAP contract is terminated. When the deficiencies are corrected, the Aiken Housing Authority will end the abatement the day the unit passes inspection. Rent will resume the same day and be paid the first day of the next month.
For participant caused HQS deficiencies, the owner will not be held accountable and the rent will not be abated. The participant is held to the same standard and timeframes for correction of deficiencies as owners. If repairs are not completed by the deadline, the Aiken Housing Authority will send a notice of termination to both the participant and the owner. The participant will be given the opportunity to request an informal hearing.
HAP contracts will be terminated after giving the owner thirty (30) calendar days’ notice from the first day of a month. It will be sent with the Notice of Abatement. Termination will end any abatement action.
Quality Control Inspections
AHA performs Quality Control Inspections periodically to assess the performance of the inspector that performed the prior initial or annual inspection. Quality Control Inspections usually occur within 30 days of the prior inspection. Timetables for repairing violations cited during a Quality Control Inspection depend upon the specific type of deficiency.