The Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8) provides tenant-based assistance, in the form of a voucher, to low-income families, for rental units of their choice in the private market. Program applicants choose from a variety of housing options, including apartments, duplexes, single-family homes and townhomes. Vouchers can also be used to help families buy homes.
HARC is pleased to have a Fraud Investigation team to maintain integrity of our program.
The Housing Choice Voucher Process
The family will contact the prospective landlord when they find a unit they are interested in. The landlord screens the family, conducts reference and background checks, and determines whether the family is suitable to rent their unit.
When the landlord agrees to rent the unit to the family and the family accepts, the landlord and the family need to fully complete and submit the Request for Tenancy Approval and other pertinent documents to HARC to start the leasing process. The unit also must pass rent reasonableness. HARC will determine if the family is income-eligible for the unit. The payment standard and utilities are taken into consideration in determining the family’s rental portion and gross rent. If the family is income-eligible for the unit, an inspection will be scheduled. If the family is not income-eligible for the unit, family is notified, and the family will need to find another unit.
HARC will contact the landlord to set-up the initial inspection. HUD requires that the unit meet certain Housing Quality Standards (“HQS”). The leases and contracts will be executed and the Housing Assistance Payments (“HAP”) will begin providing:
- The unit passes HQS Inspection
- The unit meets rent reasonableness
- The landlord and family must both sign leases and the landlord signs the HAP Contract
- HARC’s portion of the rent will be made to the landlord by direct deposit on or close to the first of the month.
The lease is an agreement between the tenant and the landlord, so it is the landlord’s responsibility to complete the lease. We have provided a sample lease here for your convenience. All initial lease terms must be for one year. The lease and HAP Contract dates must match.
IF YOU HAVE NON-ASSISTED TENANTS: You should be using the same lease for all of your tenants, whether or not they receive Housing Assistance through the Housing Authority. If you have your own rental agreement or lease, then you should not use the sample lease that is provided. Use your own lease. You must also complete the tenancy addendum in addition to using your own lease. A tenant should never have more than one lease.
Please remember that we cannot release any payments until we have an executed copy of your lease, a signed HAP Contract, and Tenancy Lease Addendum if you are not using the sample lease.
The Family Self-Sufficiency Program offers employment and other case management services designed to promote economic self-sufficiency for families currently participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. FSS Participants develop specific economic goals, via their Individual Training and Services Plan, and work with an FSS Coordinator to identify activities and services to help achieve these goals over a five-year period.
Contact FSS@rcha.org or call 262-636-3405
One of the benefits of the FSS program is an interest-bearing escrow account that may be established by the Housing Authority in the name of each participating family. As economic goals are met, household income will increase, and by law a Voucher participant's rent generally increases. Increased rental charges, due to additional earned income, paid by a family to a property owner while in the FSS program are credited to the family's escrow account. Upon fulfillment of the five-year program, through the FSS Contract of Participation, and completion of the goals listed on the Individual Training and Services Plan, families receive the funds in the escrow account for purchasing a house through the Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership program or for any other purpose.
FSS Coordinators are available to help families access a host of other career, training and other community services as well. FSS program services may include, but are not limited to:
Things You Should Know about the FSS Program:
- Job Training and Employment Counseling
- Child Care
- Substance/alcohol abuse treatment or counseling
- Household skill training
- Homeownership Counseling
- Families must be currently receiving rental assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
- Families must respond to any interest letter or notices sent by the Housing Authority.
- Families must attend an orientation scheduled by the Housing Authority.
- Families must complete and adhere to an Individual Training and Service Plan, which identifies goals and outlines specific activities and services over the five-year contractual period.
- Families must work closely with the assigned FSS Coordinator to complete set goals.
- Families may have the opportunity to establish an escrow savings account.
- Any member of the household who is a participant of the Housing Choice Voucher Program and included on the lease may participate in the FSS Program.
- A family may be denied the opportunity to participate if they previously participated and were terminated for not meeting the FSS Program obligations.
- A family may be selected for participation whether or not family members are employed.
The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) homeownership program allows families that are assisted under the HCV program to use their voucher to buy a home. The HCV homeownership program is available only to families that have been admitted to the HCV.
To participate in the HCV homeownership program, the HCV family must meet specific income and employment requirements (the employment requirement does not apply to elderly and disabled families), be a first-time homeowner as defined in the regulation, attend and satisfactorily complete a pre-assistance homeownership and housing counseling program and meet other program requirements.
Current voucher holders who are residents of Racine County may “port” their Housing Choice Voucher outside of Racine County. However, if your name comes up on the waiting list while you are living outside of Racine County and you are issued a voucher, you must utilize the voucher in Racine County for at least 12 months before porting out.
Participants may not port out if they are in violation of family obligations or if they owe money to HARC or their landlord.
Request for Portability Form
For admission to the Voucher program, a family must be income eligible in the area where the family initially leases a unit with assistance under the program. If an applicant family exercises portability, the income limit of the receiving housing authority is used.
DO NOT MOVE BEFORE COMPLETING ALL OF THE PORTABILITY PAPERWORK AND GETTING APPROVAL FROM YOUR HOUSING SPECIALIST. Failure to do so may result in loss of your voucher and cause you to be responsible for your full rent payment.
Clients wishing to transfer their voucher to HARC or to move to Racine County should notify their caseworker at their hometown housing authority for guidance on doing so.
HARC is currently ABSORBING incoming Vouchers.
The initial housing authority should send all Portability paperwork to:
Housing Authority of Racine County
837 Main Street
Racine, WI 53403
Special Purpose Vouchers
VASH - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing - Referrals through the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. The VA will screen, refer to the Housing Authority, and provide case management.
FYI - Foster Youth to Independence - Referrals through Racine/Kenosha Human Services. Provides housing assistance to young adults aging out of the foster care system, and at risk of homelessness.
Mainstream Vouchers - Provides housing assistance to households with a non-elderly (at least 18 and not yet 62) disabled family member.
For more information on any of our Special Purpose Vouchers, please call 262-636-3405.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are interested in making your unit(s) available to people with Housing Choice vouchers, you can list your properties online at www.affordablehousing.com/
Due to processing of paperwork, the first payment from the Housing Authority is issued one to three weeks after the tenant moves into the unit and the lease and contract have been signed. After that, housing assistance payments are issued on the first business day of every month by direct deposit.
Yes, the process is as follows:
- Provide a 60-day written notice to the resident with a copy to the Housing Authority.
- The Housing Authority must determine if the rent is reasonable. Landlords of larger apartment complexes must provide the Housing Authority with at least three rent comparable of recently rented non-subsidized units.
- Staff will recalculate the Housing Authority and participant portion and notify both the landlord and participant in writing of the new figures. Federal guidelines require the Housing Authority to notify both the landlord and participant in writing at least 30 days before the change.
- The Housing Authority processes this new change as a month-to-month relationship. Signing of a new lease is a transaction between the landlord and the tenant. If, as a landlord you choose not to renew the lease, you must notify the Housing Authority and resident with a 30-day notice.
Like any tenant, Section 8 participants have responsibilities to you – which should be spelled out in the lease – including timely payment of rent and utilities listed as their responsibility. To participate in the Section 8 program, tenants must use your unit as their principal residence. They cannot sublease the unit or allow unauthorized people to reside in it. Please see the Tenant Responsibilities form listed under the Housing Choice Voucher tab
on this website.
On May 20, 2009, a 90-day pre-eviction notice requirement for tenants in foreclosed properties was made law. If your property goes into foreclosure, you must notify HARC in writing of the new owner.
Yes, you have the same rights with Housing Choice participants that you have with any other tenants. You can evict a tenant who violates the terms of the lease. However, any eviction notice must be issued in accordance with the lease and state and local law. During the first year, you must have cause to terminate the lease. Following the first year, if a new lease is not signed, cause is not necessary. You provide a copy of any eviction notice to the Housing Authority the same time you notify the tenant.
Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by HARC based on the total annual gross income. 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.
During the application process, HARC will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. HARC 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.
All statements regarding eligibility must be verified. Misrepresentations made on the pre‑application form will result in the refusal of housing assistance.
No person may be admitted to an Authority housing program who engages in drug related or violent criminal activities, has committed fraud in connection with a federally assisted housing program or who owes money to an assisted housing provider.
All statements regarding eligibility must be verified. Misrepresentations made on the pre-application form will result in the refusal of housing assistance.
All income, benefits, and allowances must be verified with documentation. HARC staff must obtain written verification either from independent third party sources or original documents brought in by the tenant. In addition, HARC reviews employment records through HUD's employment verification system. If unreported income is found, this can result in termination of assistance. The family will be required to repay HARC for any overpaid assistance.
No. The Housing Authority determines the tenant's portion of the rent. The owner may not, under any circumstances, charge or accept additional payments from the family for their share of the rent that has not been approved by HARC.
Any change in income or family composition must be reported to HARC within 14 days of its occurrence. Income change forms are available at the Housing Authority's reception desk. Failure to report or under reporting changes could jeopardize your eligibility for housing program assistance or result in termination from the program.
You may use your Housing Choice Voucher anywhere within Racine County or anywhere in the USA where there is a Housing Authority to administer the program. Ask your Housing Specialist for information regarding portability. Wherever you choose to live, the housing unit must pass a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection. It must also pass a rent reasonableness test to assure that the rent charged is fair.
In order to receive a moving voucher, the Housing Authority must receive a copy of the notice you have given your property owner/manager stating your intention to vacate the unit. You must provide the Housing Authority with the most recent copy of your utility bill showing no past due balance. In addition, your property owner/manager must sign a good standing form. This form is available to pick up from your Housing Specialist.
No. The tenant is responsible for paying all of the security deposit.
The security deposit amount collected must be in compliance with state and local laws. Owners are prohibited from charging Housing Choice Voucher families more for a security deposit than their unassisted families. The security deposit must be fair and reasonable.
HARC is required by federal regulations to review each family's income and family size at least once a year. This is done to insure that the right amount of rent is being paid based on actual income and the home is the right size for the family.
HARC will notify each family of their re-certification two months before the anniversary of the initial move-in date. Follow all instructions on how to submit required documents to the Housing Authority, by the required date, to complete your recertification. Failure to do so could result in termination of your housing assistance.
Whether or not a family receives a utility reimbursement is determined by family income and the utilities for which the family is responsible. The tenant total payment (approximately 30% of their monthly adjusted income) includes the rent portion and utilities. If the tenant's rent amount is less than the utility allowance for the unit, the family will receive the difference in the form of a utility bill reimbursement. The utility allowance is based on the average cost of utilities, size of the unit, and the location of the unit. Allowances are not based on an individual family's actual energy consumption.
“Drug-related criminal activity” is defined as the illegal manufacture, sale, distribution, or use of a drug or the possession of a drug or the possession of a drug with the intent to manufacture, sell, distribute or use the drug. “Violent criminal activity” is defined as any criminal activity that has one of its elements the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force substantial enough to cause, or be reasonably likely to cause, serious bodily injury or property damage.
Drug related crime and violent crime are problems everywhere across the country. Be sure that you and members of your family residing in your unit are not involved. Federal regulations provide for termination of assistance to those who participate in these activities. The regulations also state that a person does not have to be arrested or convicted in order for their assistance to terminate.
Housing Quality Standards
Housing Quality Standards (HQS) are the HUD minimum quality standards for housing assisted under the Rental Assistance program. HQS have been developed for program use nationwide and help to insure that your home will be safe, decent and sanitary. These standards are applied by the Housing Inspector during the inspection.
Yes. Inspections will be completed prior to the unit being placed under Housing Assistance Payment Contract and annually after that. For the annual inspection, the tenant will receive advance notification of their scheduled inspection. A special inspection may be requested by tenants or landlords if a problem exists between annual inspections.
No. However, there must be a responsible adult present, age 18 or over, to let the inspector into the unit. We advise tenants to be present for the initial inspection, so that you will know first hand why the unit did not pass inspection if it fails.
You may reschedule your inspection by contacting the Housing Specialist listed on your appointment letter. If you miss an inspection, you may jeopardize your rental assistance, so you must contact your Housing Specialist immediately.
Maintenance problems should be reported to the landlord or property manager in writing. If the problem is not corrected in a prompt or satisfactory manner, the problem should be reported to Housing Authority in writing for possible action.
Practice good housekeeping habits in your home. Keep the home in a clean, safe, and orderly condition. Do not damage the property. Cut the grass, hedges and shrubbery and maintain the exterior of the property if you are required to in your lease. Let the property manager or landlord know as soon as possible when maintenance or repair work is needed.
A list of helpful tips for landlords in preparing for inspections are listed in the HARC Landlord handbook which is available upon request. The tenants are also issued "A Good Place to Live" handbook during their briefing with tips for maintenance.