Tennessee Valley Regional Housing Authority

Housing Choice Voucher Program

The Housing Choice Voucher Program increases affordable housing choices for very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing by allowing them to choose privately owned rental property. 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, apartments and manufactured homes. 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.

TVRHA pays the owner the difference between 30% of the family’s monthly adjusted income and the PHA-determined payment standard. The payment standard is tied to the HUD determined Fair Market Rent (FMR). The household may choose to rent a unit with higher rent than the payment standard. However, affordability requirements must be made to a unit that is unaffordable.

A family that is issued a Housing Choice 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 TVRHA.

A housing subsidy is paid to the owner directly by TVRHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the owner and the amount subsidized by the program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible?

Eligibility for a Housing Choice Voucher is determined by TVRHA based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to U.S. Citizens and specific categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, a family’s income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county in which the family chooses to live. By law, TVRHA must issue 75% of its Vouchers to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30% of the area median income. Median Income Limits are set by the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) for each area and family size.

During the application process, TVRHA will collect information on family income, assets and composition. TVRHA will verify this information with local agencies, your employer and bank, and will use the information to program eligibility and the amount of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

How is rent determined?

Your rent, which is referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP), would be based on your family’s anticipated gross annual income less deductions, if any. HUD regulations allow TVRHA to deduct from annual income:

  • $480 for each dependent
  • $400 for any elderly family, or a person with disabilities

Some medical deductions for families headed by an elderly person or a person with disabilities.

Based on your application, the TVRHA 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, spouse, and additional members of the family 18 years of age or older.

The formula used in determining the TTP is the highest of the following, rounded up to the nearest dollar:

  • 30% of the monthly adjusted income. Monthly Adjusted Income is annual income less deductions allowed by HUD regulations;
  • 10% of monthly income; or
  • $50 Minimum Rent as set by TVRHA

TVRHA pays the owner the difference between 30% of the family’s income and the PHA-determined payment standard – which is 110% of the Fair Market Rent (FMR). The rent must be reasonable in comparison with other unassisted rental properties in the area. The household may rent a unit with a higher rent than the Payment Standard and pay the owner the difference.

How do I apply?

Applications are taken in our main offices and at various locations throughout our area each week. If you are interested in applying for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, contact either our Corinth (662) 286-8437 or Saltillo Office (662) 869-5751 for specific times in your area.

Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to TVRHA, long waiting periods are common.

How does the application process work?

You must complete an application packet in ink before a representative of the TVRHA staff can interview you. You will need to bring the following information with you at your interview:

  1. Social Security cards for all family members who will be living with you.
  2. Picture identification (preferably driver’s license) of all adult members who will be living with you.
  3. An estimate of your family’s anticipated income for the next twelve months and the sources of that income.
  4. The names and addresses of employers, banks, and any other information we would need to verify your income and deductions, and to verify the family composition.
When will I be notified?

When TVRHA determines that you are potentially eligible, your name will be put on a waiting list, (based on date and time of application) unless the Housing Authority is able to house you immediately. Once your name is reached on the waiting list, TVRHA will contact you. If it is determined that you are ineligible, TVRHA will provide you with a detailed explanation why you are ineligible and if you wish, you can request an informal hearing.

How do Housing Choice Vouchers work?

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 TVRHA from the waiting list and advised of the Voucher size for which it is eligible based on the family size and composition.

The housing unit selected by the family must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before TVRHA can approve the unit. When the Voucher holder finds a unit that it wishes to occupy and reaches an agreement with the owner regarding lease terms, TVRHA must inspect the dwelling and determine that it meets Housing Quality Standards (HQS) and that the rent requested is reasonable.

TVRHA 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 an owner may charge or the family may pay. A family, which receives a Housing Choice Voucher, may 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% of its adjusted monthly income for rent.

Once TVRHA approves an eligible family’s housing unit, the family and the owner sign a Lease and, at the same time, the owner and TVRHA sign a Housing Assistance Payments contract (HAP) that runs for the same term as the Lease. That means that everyone – tenant, owner and TVRHA – has obligations and responsibilities under the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

What are the tenant's obligations?

When a family selects a housing unit, and TVRHA approves the unit and Lease, the family signed a Lease with the owner for one year. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the owner. After the first year the owner 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, and maintain the unit in a good condition and notify TVRHA of any changes in income or family composition.

What are the owner's obligations?

The role of the owner in the Housing Choice 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 (HQS) and be maintained by those standards as long as the owner receives Housing Assistance Payments. In addition, the owner is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the Lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with TVHRA.

What are TVRHA's obligations?

TVRHA administers the Housing Choice Voucher program locally. TVRHA provides a family with the housing assistance that enables the family to seek out suitable housing and TVRHA enters into a contract with the owner to provide Housing Assistance Payments on behalf of the family. If the owner fails to meet his/her obligations under the Lease, TVRHA has the right to terminate the Assistance Payments. TVRHA 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.