Participant FAQ’s

Section 8 Participant Questions

Who qualifies to receive Section 8 Rental Assistance?
Persons eligible to receive Section 8 assistance are those whose income falls
below guidelines set by the Federal government. At this time, the maximum
eligibility income is 50% of the median income for Stanislaus County and is
broken down by the number of family members per household.

How do families receive Section 8 Rental Assistance?
Due to the limited amount of Federal funding, the availability of Section 8
assistance nationwide is severely limited. Families who apply to receive Section
8 rental assistance must typically wait from 6 months to 10+ years to receive
this benefit. The Section 8 Program is not an entitlement program. This means
that not every family whose income makes them eligible for Section 8
automatically receives assistance. Consequently, the family must apply and wait
to receive Section 8 assistance.

The Housing Authority maintains a wait list and assists families from that
list. Each Housing Authority may have different wait list criteria which
determines where a family will be placed on the waiting list. Some agencies base
wait list placement on the date and time the application was received or by
lottery while other agencies may have preferences based on an applicant’s
housing circumstances. Wait list positions are not fixed and a family may move
up or down on the list depending upon changes in their and other families’
circumstances.


Does the Stanislaus County Housing Authority currently have any “wait list
preferences”?

Yes. All families are generally placed on the Section 8 waiting list by order of
date and time of application receipt from the Housing Authority. However,
families who are in the following housing circumstances can receive a preference
on the waiting list:

 

  1. Families who are eligible for Section 8 rental assistance and who are
    presently residing in a rental unit which meets the qualifications for Section
    8.
  2. Program participants who were receiving Section 8 rental assistance and
    were forced to terminate their assistance due to an illness which required
    long-term hospitalization. Please note that in order for an applicant to be
    eligible for this preference, the participant must request reinstatement
    within one year from the date the participant previously left the program and
    also be able to live independently.

While an applicant may receive a preference on the waiting list, the length
of time it takes for an applicant to actually receive a Housing Choice Voucher
depends upon the availability of Vouchers. For example, if an applicant claims a
preference and is placed higher on the waiting list, it could take several
months before receiving a voucher if the Authority has no vouchers to issue to
waiting list applicants.


How do I apply for the Section 8 Program?
A family can only apply when the Housing Authority announces a Section 8 wait
list “opening”. The Housing Authority periodically notifies the public in as
many ways as possible, e.g. newspaper ads, mailings to community groups, news
articles, etc., when applications will be accepted.

The last application opening was held in September of 2001. The Housing
Authority admitted over 8,000 families to the waiting list in the year 2001 and
the waiting list is not presently open for new applicants. Since it is not known
when the Authority will be reopening the list, we recommend that interested
applicants check the status of any future wait list openings by contacting the
Authority’s Section 8 Department every five to six months.


What happens when a family reaches the top of the wait list?
When a family reaches the top of the wait list they are contacted by the Housing
Authority’s Section 8 Department for an eligibility assessment interview. In the
interview, the family composition, income and need for housing assistance are
verified. If the family is eligible to receive housing assistance, the family’s
application is processed to receive Section 8 assistance.

The family is required to attend a mandatory briefing session wherein the
Section 8 program and the family’s obligations as a Section 8 program
participant are explained. Additionally, the housing authority’s representative
provides suggestions on how to search for housing and on the qualities that make
a good tenant.

At the end of the briefing the family will receive their Section 8 Housing
Choice Voucher which authorizes them to begin their search for housing. A family
must possess a voucher with current dates as proof they are currently approved
by the Housing Authority to search for rental housing and participate in the
Housing Choice Voucher Program.

 
How does the family find a rental unit?

The family must locate their own rental unit. They check newspaper
advertisements, vacant unit listings that owners submit to the Housing
Authority, “For Rent” signs, etc. The unit they locate must be the appropriate
bedroom size (some exceptions are allowed) and the landlord must be willing to
participate in the Section 8 program and to abide by the Section 8 program
rules.

We urge property owners to list your properties with the Housing Authority
and encourage you to ask your fellow property owners to do the same. You may
list a unit by calling the Housing Authority at (209) 557-2000 and request a
“Rental Listing Form” or you can download this form in the Section 8 area.

 
How is the family’s rent share calculated under the Housing Choice Voucher
Program?

There are five factors which affect a tenant’s rent under the Housing Choice
Voucher Program. What must be known prior to determining the tenant’s rent is
the following:

 

  1. 30% of the tenant’s monthly adjusted income
  2. 40% of the tenant’s monthly adjusted income (under the program guidelines,
    the tenant’s rent portion cannot exceed this amount)
  3. The Housing Authority’s “Payment Standard” for the bedroom size the family
    qualifies for
  4. The Rent the Owner is asking
  5. The Utility Allowance figure (a Utility Allowance is a HUD required
    allowance which must be deducted from the tenant’s rent portion for
    tenant-paid utilities.)

Under the Housing Choice Voucher Program the rent which can be approved is
based upon two factors. The first factor is whether the rent requested is
comparable to other units renting on the open-market in that neighborhood.

The second factor is the tenant rent portion limitation. Under the Housing
Choice Voucher Program, the family is allowed to pay up to 40% of their monthly
adjusted income towards the “gross rent”. The Gross Rent is the rent the owner
is asking plus the Utility Allowance adjustment. The amount of the Utility
Allowance is dependent upon what utilities the tenant pays. The tenant pays the
difference between the Housing Authority’s maximum subsidy and the rent to the
owner.

 


I am receiving Section 8 in Stanislaus County and wish to move. Can I
transfer my Section 8 to another county?

Yes. This feature is known as “Portability” of Section 8 Rental Assistance.
Prior to giving notice to your landlord, we recommend you contact the Housing
Authority to ensure you are following all steps necessary to ensure timely
processing of this request. In order to request portability, the Housing
Authority will need to know general information such as where you will be
relocating and the Housing Authority which you would like for us to send your
current file information. To be eligible to exercise portability, you must not
have vacated your current unit in violation of the terms of your lease. Your
portability request will be denied in accordance with HUD requirements and
violations must be cured prior to requesting portability.

 


I am currently on Section 8 and have had a change in my income or family
size. How do I report this change?

To report a change, applicants and current program participants must complete a
“Section 8 Change Report”. These forms can be obtained in the Housing Authority
lobby and are to be completed for every change which occurs in your family
composition, family income, assets, and family contact information. This
information must be reported in writing to adequately document that this
information was reported to the Housing Authority. Upon receipt of this
information, the Housing Authority then determines whether an appointment is
necessary to review your new circumstances or whether this change will be
reviewed at your annual eligibility interview. In either case, you will receive
notification that we have received this information. If the Housing Authority
does not contact you within 30 days from the date the information was submitted,
please call the Housing Authority to confirm receipt. This form can be
downloaded in the Section 8 area.

 


Are there any restrictions on who I can rent to under the Section 8 Program?
Yes. In 1998 HUD revised the regulations which limits circumstances under which
a property owner can rent his unit to a relative under the Section 8 Program.
The Housing Authority can permit such leasing only if it is determined that the
leasing of a relative’s unit would accommodate a person with disabilities.

For instance, if a property owner had a rental unit close to his/her property
which was handicapped accessible in order to provide attendant assistance to a
disabled family member, the Housing Authority could allow leasing to a relative.
The relationship which HUD defines as a relative is the parent (including
stepparents), child, grandparent, grandchild, sister, or brother of the Section
8 Voucher holder or any of his/her family members.

 
What is necessary for the Housing Authority to approve a rental unit?
Upon receipt of the Request for Tenancy Approval (this is the form new program
participants receive during the program orientation meeting where the program is
described), the Housing Authority will review the rent and tenant’s income to
ensure the tenant’s rent portion is within the 40% tenant rent portion
limitation described earlier in this section. If the rent calculation is
verified as O.K. to process, an appointment will be made with the landlord to
inspect the unit. Housing Authority staff usually try to schedule the inspection
within 3-5 working days.

When the appointment for the inspection is scheduled, the unit is assumed to
be ready for occupancy. The Housing Authority inspector is required to verify
the that the unit meets

Housing Quality Standards (HQS)
. To view the HQS requirements, visit our

HQS
page.

These are Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) established
standards designed to insure that units on which rent subsidies are paid are
decent, safe and sanitary. In addition to inspecting for HQS compliance, the
inspector may also note items needing repair that are not required but
recommended for preventative maintenance.

 

Property Foreclosures:

The following link is information on how to address tenancy
when a unit is under foreclosures.

Click here for Documents