Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
The Bourne Housing Authority operates a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program that allows assistance in private market housing. Vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies. BHA receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer this program.
The BHA participates in the Massachusetts NAHRO Centralized Section 8 Waiting List. Interested applicants can apply to the Centralized Section 8 Waiting List by requesting an application through any of the participating housing authorities or by applying online at www.section8listmass.org. If you have a disability and require an accommodation to apply, please call BHA at 508-563-7485. Due to the interest in this program, the wait time for this program is 10 or more years.
A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family’s choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. This unit may include the family’s present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the BHA.
A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the BHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.
The Housing Choice voucher program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. The rental unit must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before the BHA can approve payments to landlords under the voucher program. When the voucher holder finds a unit that they wish to occupy and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the BHA must inspect the dwelling and review the lease for approval.
The BHA determines a payment standard that is the amount generally needed to rent a moderately-priced dwelling unit in the local housing market and that is used to calculate the amount of housing assistance a family will receive. However the payment standard does not limit and does not affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family may pay. A family which receives a housing voucher can select a unit with a rent that is below or above the payment standard. The housing voucher family must pay 30% of its monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities, and if the unit rent is greater than the payment standard the family is required to pay the additional amount. By law, whenever a family moves to a new unit where the rent exceeds the payment standard, the family may not pay more than 40 percent of its adjusted gross monthly income.
The BHA calculates the maximum amount of housing assistance allowable. The maximum housing assistance is generally the lesser of the payment standard minus 30% of the family’s monthly adjusted income or the gross rent for the unit minus 30% of monthly adjusted income.
Under the voucher program, new voucher-holders may choose a unit anywhere in the United States if the family lived within the jurisdiction of the BHA when the family applied for assistance. Those new voucher-holders not living within the jurisdiction of the BHA at the time the family applies for rental assistance must initially lease a unit within that jurisdiction for the first twelve months of assistance. A family that wishes to move to another jurisdiction must consult with the BHA to verify the procedures for moving.
Once the BHA approves an eligible family’s lease and housing unit, the family and the landlord sign a lease and the landlord and the BHA sign a housing assistance contract which runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone — tenant, landlord and BHA — has obligations and responsibilities within the voucher program.
When a family selects a housing unit, and the BHA approves the unit and lease, the family signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. After the first year the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease. When the family is settled in a new home, the family is expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay its share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition and notify the BHA of any changes in income or family composition.
Federal law requires the Bourne Housing Authority to inspect apartments to make sure that the rent being charged is reasonable given an apartment’s condition and amenities. All units must meet HUD’s Housing Quality Standards. Before BHA agrees to enter into a contract with an owner to help pay a voucher holder’s rent, federal law requires an initial inspection. In most cases, BHA will not allow voucher holders to move into an apartment until it passes initial inspection.
Federal law also requires BHA to annually reinspect voucher holder’s units to make sure that owners and voucher holders are each doing their part to keep their units clean and safe. All units must meet HUD’s Housing Quality Standards.