What Is Public Housing?
Public housing was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.
Who Is Eligible?
Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. An HA determines your eligibility based on: 1) annual gross income; 2) whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family; and 3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. If you are eligible, the HA will check your references to make sure you and your family will be good tenants. HAs will deny admission to any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project's environment.
Will I Need to Produce Any Documentation?
Yes, the HA representative will request whatever documentation is needed to verify the information given on your application. The PHA will also rely on direct verification from your employer, etc. You will be asked to sign a form to authorize release of pertinent information to the PHA.
How Is Rent Determined?
Your rent, which is referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) in this program, would be based on your family's anticipated gross annual income less deductions, if any. HUD regulations allow HAs to exclude from annual income the following allowances: $480 for each dependent; $400 for any elderly family, or a person with a disability; and some medical deductions for families headed by an elderly person or a person with disabilities. Based on your application, the HA representative will determine if any of the allowable deductions should be subtracted from your annual income. Annual income is the anticipated total income from all sources received from the family head and spouse, and each additional member of the family 18 years of age or older.
The formula used in determining the TTP is the highest of the following, rounded to the nearest dollar:
- 30 percent of the monthly adjusted income. (Monthly Adjusted Income is annual income less deductions allowed by the regulations);
- 10 percent of monthly income;
- welfare rent, if applicable; or
- a $25 minimum rent or higher amount (up to $50) set by an HA.
What Is the Role of the HA?
An HA is responsible for the management and operation of its local public housing program. They may also operate other types of housing programs.
(1) On-going functions: (a) Assure compliance with leases. The lease must be signed by both parties; (b) Set other charges (e.g., security deposit, excess utility consumption, and damages to unit); (c) Perform periodic reexaminations of the family's income at least once every 12 months; (d) Transfer families from one unit to another, in order to correct over/under crowding, repair or renovate a dwelling, or because of a resident's request to be transferred; (e) Terminate leases when necessary; and (f) maintain the development in a decent, safe, and sanitary condition.
(2) Sometimes HAs provide other services, that might include such things as: homeownership opportunities for qualified families; employment training opportunities, and other special training and employment programs for residents; and support programs for the elderly.
How Long Can I Stay in Public Housing?
In general, you may stay in public housing as long as you comply with the lease.
If, at reexamination your family's income is sufficient to obtain housing on the private market, the HA may determine whether your family should stay in public housing.
Housing Choice Voucher
What Are Housing Choice Vouchers?
The housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.
Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies(PHAs). The PHAs receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program.
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 PHA.
A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the PHA 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. Under certain circumstances, if authorized by the PHA, a family may use its voucher to purchase a modest home.
Who Is Eligible?
Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the PHA based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, the family's income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. By law, a PHA must provide 75 percent of its voucher to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30 percent of the area median income. Median income levels are published by HUD and vary by location. The PHA serving your community can provide you with the income limits for your area and family size.
During the application process, the PHA will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. The PHA will verify this information with other local agencies, your employer and bank, and will use the information to determine program eligibility and the amount of the housing assistance payment
If the PHA determines that your family is eligible, the PHA will put your name on a waiting list, unless it is able to assist you immediately. Once your name is reached on the waiting list, the PHA will contact you and issue to you a housing voucher.
How Do I Apply?
If you are interested in applying for a voucher, you must complete an application and return it to the Housing Authority of the City of Bastrop’s office at 502 Farm Street, Bastrop, TX 78602. Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local housing agencies, long waiting periods are common. In fact, a PHA may close its waiting list when it has more families on the list than can be assisted in the near future.
How Do They Function?
The housing choice voucher program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. A very low-income family is selected by the PHA to participate is encouraged to consider several housing choices to secure the best housing for the family needs. A housing voucher holder is advised of the unit size for which it is eligible based on family size and composition.
The housing unit selected by the family must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before the PHA can approve the unit. When the voucher holder finds a unit that it wishes to occupy and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the PHA must inspect the dwelling and determine that the rent requested is reasonable.
The PHA 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 monthly income for rent.
The Rent Subsidy
The PHA 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
Can I Move and Continue to Receive Housing Choice Voucher Assistance?
A family's housing needs change over time with changes in family size, job locations, and for other reasons. The housing choice voucher program is designed to allow families to move without the loss of housing assistance. Moves are permissible as long as the family notifies the PHA ahead of time, terminates its existing lease within the lease provisions, and finds acceptable alternate housing.
Under the voucher program, all voucher-holders may choose a unit anywhere in the United States where there is a housing agency participating in the Voucher Program, if the family lived in the jurisdiction of the PHA issuing the voucher when the family applied for assistance. Those voucher-holders not living in the jurisdiction of the PHA at the time the family applied for housing assistance must initially lease a unit within that jurisdiction for the first twelve months of assistance. The procedures for using the Portability Feature are:
A family that wishes to move to another PHA's jurisdiction must notify the PHA that currently administers its housing assistance. The current (or initial) PHA will assist the family in locating the next (or receiving) PHA. The initial PHA forwards the HUD Form 50058 Family Report, HUD Form-52665 Family Portability Information and other documents required to the receiving PHA.
The receiving PHA will notify the family of their orientation or briefing requirements and assist them in locating housing in the local area.
The participant must locate approved housing and complete the necessary paperwork with the receiving PHA and landlord before the voucher expires. The receiving PHA will notify the initial PHA that either (a) the receiving PHA will not absorb the family and will bill the initial PHA monthly on behalf of the family or (b) the receiving PHA will absorb the family into their program, and the voucher will be reissued to another family in the issuing PHA’s jurisdiction.
If the participant does not locate approved housing before the voucher expires, the receiving PHA notifies the initial PHA that the voucher expired and the voucher will be reissued to another family in the issuing PHA’s jurisdiction.
Neighboring Public Housing Authorities that administer the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program:
- Elgin Housing Authority 512-281-2772
- Smithville Housing Authority 512-360-3286
- Austin Housing Authority 512-477-1314
- Travis County Housing Authority 512-480-8245
Roles - The Tenant, The Landlord, The Housing Agency and HUD
Once a PHA approves an eligible family's housing unit, the family and the landlord sign a lease and, at the same time, the landlord and the PHA sign a housing assistance payments contract that runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone -- tenant, landlord and PHA -- has obligations and responsibilities under the voucher program.
When a family selects a housing unit, and the PHA 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 PHA of any changes in income or family composition.
The role of the landlord in the voucher program is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program's housing quality standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with the PHA.
Housing Authority's Obligations
The PHA administers the voucher program locally. The PHA provides a family with the housing assistance that enables the family to seek out suitable housing and the PHA enters into a contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet the owner's obligations under the lease, the PHA has the right to terminate assistance payments. The PHA must reexamine the family's income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least annually to ensure that it meets minimum housing quality standards.
To cover the cost of the program, HUD provides funds to allow PHAs to make housing assistance payments on behalf of the families. HUD also pays the PHA a fee for the costs of administering the program. HUD monitors PHA administration of the program to ensure program rules are properly followed.
The basic premise of the housing choice voucher homeownership program is that instead of using voucher subsidy to help a family with the rent, the voucher subsidy is provided to help a first-time homeowner meet monthly homeownership expenses.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Are the Eligibility Requirements?An individual or family must:
- Be a current voucher program participant with BHA or eligible for admission to BHA’s housing choice voucher program.
- Be a participant in good standing (i.e. the family has not violated any Section 8 program requirements)
- Meet the HUD definition of first-time homebuyer (i.e., means the participant has not had ownership interest in a home in the past 3 years).
- Sign a Statement of Homeownership Obligations
- Satisfactorily complete pre-purchase homeowner counseling classes before entering into a sales contract
- Provide a cash down payment of at least $500.
- Provide the lender and real estate professionals with all pertinent documentation
- Be able to comply with any additional special requirements for homeownership assistance as specified in BHA’S’s Section 8 Homeownership Handbook and Administrative Plan.
How Do I Know if I’m Ready for Homeownership?
Owning a home is a big responsibility. It’s important that you understand those responsibilities before you look at being a homebuyer. It is mandatory that you take an approved homeownership-counseling course prior to purchasing a home. You should also first clear up any credit problems and save enough money so you can make a downpayment. (In some cases it may be necessary for the family to receive post mortgage homeownership counseling to help them budget their finances once they have closed on their home. This type of training is available from homeownership counselors.)
What Kind of Paperwork Must I Fill Out?
When you purchase a home there is a lot of paperwork that must be filled out. Some of the paperwork provides BHA, the lender and real estate professional information they need to make sure you’re able to financially purchase a home. Other paperwork ensures you are treated professionally and are protected. It is very important that you provide us with information that is accurate, complete and submitted quickly. Some of the information you will need to provide is evidence of your eligibility for this program; documentation of income; credit or alternate credit information. Make sure you understand what you are signing. Don’t be afraid to ask the lender, real estate professional and others questions to help you understand the process.
What Bankers and Real Estate Professionals Can I Use?
For BHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program you must choose a LENDER that is working with this particular program. It is important that you contact the person from the bank or lending institution who is working on this particular loan product. Others working within the bank may not have any knowledge of this type of program.
In this program you may chose any real estate professional. However, most professionals will not understand this program unless they receive special training. You can contact the participating mortgage lenders and see if they can suggest real estate professionals who is familiar with using Section 8 Vouchers for homeownership.
Do I Have to Have Good Credit?
You can’t have bad credit! If you do, the homeownership counselor can instruct you on how to clean up your credit record. However, you may have never established a traditional credit record and that’s okay, but the lender needs to know if you pay your bills on time. The lender will review your record of making timely rent, utility and other payments. This is called alternate credit.
What Other Costs Are There?
Your minimum downpayment requirement must be at least $500.00 and must come from the family’s personal savings or resources. You may also have to pay for an appraisal which may cost $300-$400 and a professional inspection which may be $150.00. There may be other incidental expenses prior to your purchase as well. (Bastrop Housing Authority may be to assist with down payment and closing costs as funding is available.)
Can My Family Help Me Buy the Home?
In most cases, your family can help you purchase a home. Assisting with a downpayment or other expenses or co-signing/co-borrowing on the loan might provide help. However, it’s important to understand that under Section 8 regulations, a non-occupying co-borrower cannot own an interest in the home.
Can I Have a Roommate?
No, Understand the standard family obligations for use and occupancy for the voucher program, no other person except members of the assisted family may reside in the unit except for a foster child or live in aide. The individual or family may not sublease or let the unit under the family obligations.
Am I Limited as to How Much I May Pay for a Home?
The amount you are able to pay for a home depends on your total income and resources. The mortgage lender will consider your total income, your Section 8 assistance, and any other assistance you are receiving from a family member or agency. The lender will pre-qualify you for a loan based on income and other financial information. It is important to have this pre-qualification letter before you begin shopping for a home.
How Long Will I Continue to Receive Section 8 Assistance if I Use It for Homeownership?
Except for elderly and disabled families, Section 8 homeownership assistance may only be paid for a maximum period of 15 years if the initial mortgaged incurred to finance purchase of the home has a term that is 20 years or longer. In all other cases, the maximum term of the homeownership assistance is 10 years. Elderly and disabled families’ are exempt from a time limit for homeownership assistance; (there is no time limit on homeownership assistance for elderly or disabled families).
It is important to understand that you are responsible for the full mortgage payment if your section 8 payment is terminated for any reason.
Once I Have Purchased a Home Under This Program, Must I Still Have a Section 8 Re-Certification Each Year?
Yes. You will still need to submit all the paperwork for re-certification each year and you will have to conform to all the statements in the Statement of Homebuyer Obligations which you sign prior to purchasing a home. This re-certification will be done at the same time your LENDER determines your tax escrow payment.
Do I Need to Get My New Home Inspected?
Yes, There are actually two types of inspections that are needed. You will need to hire a professional inspector to inspect the home to identify physical defects and the condition of the major building systems and components. Your housing coordinator will have to make a HUD Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection, which is the same inspection made for the tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance program.
What Happens to My Home if I Die?
This is a complicated question because so much depends on individual circumstances. The HUD Section 8 homeownership draft rule states: “Upon death of a family member who holds, in whole or in part, title to the home or ownership of cooperative membership shares for the home, homeownership assistance may continue pending settlement of the descendant’s estate, notwithstanding transfer of title by operation of law to the descendant’s executor or legal representative, so long as the home is solely occupied by remaining members of the family in accordance with Section 8 regulations.”
In other words, questions need to be asked: Is there a will? Are their remaining members of the family? Are their additional owners listed on the deed? Depending on the answers, the home may revert to those remaining members (as defined by Section 8 regulations) of the family who were residing in the home. The home may have to be sold: if no one is able to take title and payments are not made, the home may fall into foreclosure. The bottom line: if the homebuyer dies, the housing coordinator, LENDER and BHA must be notified immediately by remaining members of the family or the service provider’s housing coordinator.
Am I Responsible for Other Expenses Incurred as a Result of Purchasing a Home?
Yes, You are responsible for all monthly homeownership expenses (for example: homeownership association dues) all utilities and trash pick-up and for any expenses (for example: a new water heater, structural repairs, broken windows, plumbing problems, etc.) that you may have as a homeowner.
What Can I Do if I Have Trouble Paying My Mortgage or Maintaining My Home?
You may be required to attend ongoing homeownership counseling. In your community there are experienced homeownership counselors who can help you save towards repairs and general maintenance of your home or assist you in getting financial advice so you can avoid defaulting on your payments. It’s important to understand that you are responsible for the debt incurred to purchase your home.
How Do I Make My Mortgage Payments to the Lender?
BHA will discuss payment options with your lender and establish the payment method required by the Lender. Payment methods might include: (1) paying your portion of the mortgage to BHA and BHA remitting payment to the Lender, (2) BHA paying their portion of the mortgage to you and you remitting payment to the Lender, (3) paying your portion of the mortgage and BHA paying their portion of the mortgage to the Lender, resulting in two separate payments, (4) establishing an escrow account in which you and BHA deposit the mortgage payments and allowing the lender to draft the mortgage from this account.
Can I Sell My Home?
Yes, however all sales must be approved by BHA and you may not sell, or convey or transfer any interest in the home to any entity or person other than a member of the assisted family residing in the home. Depending on the circumstances, you may be subject to a recapture of BHA payments if you sell or refinance the loan.
Will Purchasing a Home Make Me Ineligible for Other Assistance Programs Such as Food Stamps, Medicaid or Medicare?
No. A home, as well as a car, is an exempt asset according to Social Security and other federal agencies. These assets do not count against a person receiving other supports.
I’ve Owned a Very Old Trailer Home for Several Years; Does This Make Me Ineligible as a First-Time Homebuyer?
That depends on whether or not the trailer was ever permanently attached to a foundation. If it was attached, you’re not a first-time homebuyer as lenders consider this a home. If it is not permanently attached, lenders consider it a motor vehicle not a home.
Can I Purchase a Manufactured Home?
Yes. However, the home must meet certain standards and being permanently attached to a foundation is one of them. Lenders will also consider the age and condition of the home.
Section 8 New Construction (Piney Creek North)
The Section 8 Program was authorized by Congress in 1974 and developed by HUD to provide rental subsidies for eligible tenant families (including single persons) residing in newly constructed, rehabilitated and existing rental and cooperative apartment projects.
The rents of some of the residential units are subsidized by HUD under the Section 8 New Construction ("New Construction") Program. All such assistance is "project-based", i.e.; the subsidy is committed by HUD for the assisted units of a particular Mortgaged Property for a contractually determined period. For any mortgaged property which received a notice of selection from HUD for New Construction or Substantial Rehabilitation assistance prior to November 15, 1979 or February 20, 1980, respectively, the subsidy is made available to the project owner in five-year increments, subject to renewal at the owner's option at the end of each five-year incremental term for a further five years or until the end of the maximum term of assistance.
HUD provides Section 8 rental subsidies to the owners of certain mortgaged properties pursuant to a HAP Contract. The entity responsible for the administration of the Section 8 assistance pursuant to a particular HAP Contract is the designated "Contract Administrator".
HAP Contracts specify the number of units in a particular mortgaged property for which Section 8 assistance will be provided. Under the HAP Contracts, HUD provides Section 8 rental subsidies to the project owners in an amount equal to the difference between the HUD approved rent (the "Contract Rent") for a particular assisted unit and the HUD required rental contribution from eligible tenant families. The Housing Act prescribes as the requisite tenant rental contribution an amount equal to the greatest of (i) 30% of the tenants' family monthly adjusted income, (ii) 10% of the tenants' family monthly gross income, and (iii) if the tenant family receives welfare assistance from a public agency and a portion of such assistance is adjusted in accordance with the family's actual housing costs, the monthly portion of the welfare assistance so adjusted. For Section 8 assisted units for which the cost of utilities is not included in rent, the tenant rental contribution includes the amount of HUD's estimate of the average monthly cost of utilities and other services (excluding telephone) for the unit in question (the "Utility Allowance").
Tenant Admission and Occupancy Criteria
Section 8 rental subsidies are provided to project owners on behalf of families that are eligible low-income families at the time of their admission by the project owners to the program. Under the Housing Act, "low income families" are defined as those families whose annual incomes do not exceed eighty percent (80%) of the median income for the area in which the project is located, adjusted for family size, as determined by HUD at least annually. Pursuant to the Housing Act, not more than 25% of the units in an assisted mortgaged property may be made available for occupancy by low income families other than "very low income families" (as herein defined).. A "very low income family" is defined as a family whose annual income is at or below 50% of the median income of the area in which the project is located, adjusted for family size.
Under the Section 8 Program, tenant selection is regarded as the responsibility of the owner of an assisted mortgaged property, subject to compliance by such owner with the applicable income eligibility criteria and certain occupancy requirements. In addition, applicable HUD regulations restrict the availability of Section 8 assistance to citizens of the United States and noncitizens of the United States who have achieved certain eligible immigration status. Project owners are prohibited from discriminating against applicants on the basis of family's status, as well as race, sex, creed, religion, age or disability.
In consideration for the receipt of Section 8 assistance, the HAP Contracts impose certain general obligation on the owners of assisted properties including; (i) the leasing of assisted units to Section 8 income eligible families, (ii) the maintenance of the project as decent, safe and sanitary housing for the residents, (iii) compliance with applicable nondiscrimination and equal employment opportunity requirements, (iv) compliance with Section 8 reporting, management and accounting requirements, and (v) the procurement of the prior written approval of HUD and the Contract Administrator to any transfers of the project or any portion thereof and any assignment of the HAP Contract.
Terms of Leases
HUD guidelines prescribe the form of lease to be utilized by project owners for tenant families receiving assistance under the New Construction Programs. In general, the initial term of any such lease must be at least one year. In addition, the requisite HUD form of lease currently provides for automatic renewal of the stated term of the lease, unless and until the lease is terminated as a result of a default by the tenant family thereunder. The project owner may terminate the tenancy of assisted tenant families for material non-compliance with the lease, failure on the part of the tenant family to carry out their obligations under any State or local landlord and tenant law, or for other good cause.
Initially, Contract Rents, plus Utility Allowances, may not exceed the HUD determined so-called fair market rents ("Fair Market Rents") for similarly situated units in newly constructed, substantially rehabilitated or existing or moderately rehabilitated developments in the area, although, under special circumstances, HUD can approve initial Contract Rents (plus Utility Allowances) for particular assisted projects in an amount up to 120% of the applicable Fair Market Rents. The Fair Market Rents are published at least annually by HUD in the Federal Register. The Fair Market Rents constitute HUD's determination of the rents including utilities (except telephone), if applicable, ranges and refrigerators, parking and all maintenance, management and other essential housing services which would be required to obtain, in a particular market area, privately developed and owned rental housing of modest design with suitable amenities. In light of the termination of the New Construction and Substantial Rehabilitation Programs, HUD no longer publishes Fair Market Rents for new construction or substantial rehabilitation projects.
Adjustments in Contract Rents are available to owners of assisted mortgaged properties on at least an annual basis pursuant to the application of a formula adjustment procedure determined by HUD known as the automatic Annual Adjustment Factor ("AAF") which is published by notice in the Federal Register.
Expiration, Termination and Conversion of Section 8 Assistance
Some forms of HAP Contracts grant the project owner the option to renew the contract for one or more incremental terms, up to the specified maximum term. For New Construction projects, the renewal is at the sole option of the owner. If the HAP Contract is renewed, the provisions of the agreement will remain in effect during the additional incremental term. During the additional term, HUD is obligated to make assistance payments to the owner in accordance with the HAP Contract, which payments will include any adjustments of the Contract Rents provided thereunder.
If a HAP Contract expires, neither HUD nor the project owner has any contractual obligation to renew the agreement or to enter into a new HAP Contract for the previously assisted units. If HUD elects to provide additional assistance upon expiration of a HAP Contract, HUD may provide such assistance pursuant to a new HAP Contract for project-based assistance or for Section 8 vouchers or certificates as hereinafter described. However, HUD's discretion to renew such HAP Contracts is subject to the availability of sufficient funds appropriated by Congress for such purposes.