The Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly Section 8) provides rental assistance to income-eligible tenants by subsidizing a portion of their monthly rent and utilities and paying it directly to their landlords. In cases where utilities are not included in rent, the program may pay a larger portion of the rent so that the tenant is able to afford utility payments. The assistance provided is the difference between what the tenant pays toward rent (generally 30%-40% of the household’s adjusted gross income) and the cost of the rent.
Once you have been accepted into the Housing Choice Voucher Program, you must remain in good standing. That requires being a considerate neighbor, paying your rent on time, reporting any changes in the members of your household or your income to your residential coordinator and ensuring that your unit passes an annual inspection.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
- Tenant Requested Moves
Can I move to a new apartment and keep my Section 8?
Yes. You must be a Section 8 tenant in good standing with your landlord and have lived in your unit for at least one year in order to move.
How do I let the Housing Authority know that I want to move?
You must send a written request to your residential coordinator and be sure to provide a minimum of “30-days notice” to your landlord prior to moving.
How long will I have to find a new apartment?
Your residential coordinator will issue you a voucher giving you 60-days to locate a new unit. However, if your landlord has given you a notice to move, you must vacate your unit by the last day stated on that notice. If you remain in the unit after that date, you may face eviction.
Does the Colorado Division of Housing (DOH) pay security deposits?
DOH does not pay security deposits.
If I find a new apartment, can I move in right away?Give your current landlord a “30-day notice” that you will be moving and send a copy to your residential coordinator. Meet with your residential coordinator to receive your new Housing Choice Voucher which gives you permission to move.
No. You must follow the steps below:
How often can I move and still keep my Housing Choice Voucher?
You can only move one time in any 12-month period. If you are a person with a disability and need to move as a reasonable accommodation specifically related to your disability, please contact your residential coordinator for a “Request for Reasonable Accommodation” form.
- Find a new unit and discuss the Section 8 program with the owner.
- Submit a “Request for Tenancy Approval” along with a blank copy of the lease to your residential coordinator.
- Your residential coordinator will schedule a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection of the unit.
- A review of the rents charged in the area will take place to ensure a fair market rent.
- If problems are discovered during the inspection, the owner must make repairs prior to you signing the lease and moving in. If there are no deficiencies, the unit passes inspection.
- If the unit passes inspection, you will be given permission to move in after you and the owner sign the lease.
- Informal Hearings
If the Housing Authority makes a decision that affects my participation in the Section 8 Program, do I have a right to appeal?
Yes. All Section 8 program applicants, participants and owners are entitled to an informal appeal and review process to consider whether DOH decisions are in accordance with HUD regulations and DOH policies.
What types of reviews and hearings are available to me?
There are two different types of reviews and/or hearings. The specific review or hearing available to you depends on the nature of the complaint. The two procedures are: informal review, and informal hearing.
What is the difference between an informal review and an informal hearing?
Informal Review: Section 8 applicants have the right to request an informal review if DOH determines that they fail to meet Section 8 qualifications. Upon notification of being withdrawn from the Section 8 waitlist, applicants are informed of their right to request an informal review of DOH's decision. DOH's Section 8 Program Managers, or his/her designee, conduct the informal review. Applicants are given the opportunity to contest DOH's decision, and are promptly notified of the decision. Informal Hearing: Informal hearings are conducted to allow Section 8 participants and owners to contest DOH's determinations regarding: family's share of the rent, denial or termination of Section 8 assistance, assignment of specific bedroom size appropriate to the family, denial of voucher issuance or re-issuance, and denial on the basis of citizenship status. An independent Hearing Officer conducts all informal hearing requests. The Hearing Officer ensures that hearings are impartial, and that all parties have an opportunity to present evidence and testimony. When the hearing is completed, the Hearing Officer prepares an official hearing report for presentation to both parties. The Hearing Officer's written decision identifies and summarizes case facts, issues, evidence, pertinent laws, HUD regulations, DOH policies, and the specific reason(s) for arriving at the decision.
- Reasonable Accommodation
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is a change, adaptation or modification to a policy, program or service which allows a person with a disability, as defined under the federal civil rights law, the equal opportunity to participate fully in DOH's housing programs. Federal regulations require that requests for accommodations be considered reasonable if they do not create an undue financial and administrative burden for DOH, or result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program. There must also be a clearly identified relationship between the required accommodation and the individual’s disability. For more information please read the “Reasonable Accommodation Info Sheet.”
When can I request a reasonable accommodation?A physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS related complex, or mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or Have a record of such disability, or being regarded as having such disability.
You must be a person with a disability in order to request a reasonable accommodation. To be considered a person with a disability, you must have:
How can I let DOH know that I need a reasonable accommodation?
You can request a reasonable accommodation at any time by completing a “Request for Reasonable Accommodation” form. If you are unable to complete the form, you may request assistance from your residential coordinator. Your disability and your need for the requested accommodation must be verified by a knowledgeable professional. If you have any questions along the way, contact your residential coordinator.
May I request more than one reasonable accommodation?
Yes, you may request more than one reasonable accommodation. Your need for the accommodation must be verified as medically necessary.
What kinds of reasonable accommodations are available?
Some examples of reasonable accommodations are: conducting home visits for a person with a disability who cannot come to the Section 8 office, providing a list of units accessible to persons with disabilities, providing special assistance in finding a unit or making a referral to an agency that can help, rescheduling appointments, allowing a larger unit for a live-in aide, extending the search time to locate a unit, and allowing a special "exception payment standard” to make the unit more affordable.
What counts as income?Go to, or on behalf of, the family head or spouse (even if temporarily absent) or to any other family member in the household, or Are anticipated to be received from a source outside the family during the 12-month period following admission or annual reexamination effective date, or Are amounts derived (during the 12-month period) from assets to which any member of the family has access. Examples of income that must be reported and counted include but are not limited to: wages (including tips, bonuses, overtime), unemployment, Social Security income, VA pensions, AND, TANF, Old Age Pension, and income from assets. Assets include but are not limited to: savings accounts, checking accounts and trust funds.
Annual income means all amounts, monetary or not, which:
What happens if my income changes after I begin receiving rental assistance?
Whenever your household income changes you are required to report the change to your residential coordinator in writing within 10 days of the change. You can do this by completing the “Family Reporting” form. Your residential coordinator will review your Family Reporting Form and determine if and when a change in rent is required.
How often is my income reviewed?
Your income is reviewed at least annually by completing an annual reexamination. Approximately 90-120 days prior to your anniversary date, your residential coordinator will contact you to begin the reexamination process. You will need to complete forms and provide information in order to verify your income and eligibility for the program.
I currently do not have a source of income. What do I do?
The Housing Choice Voucher Program does not require you to have income. However, if you do not have a source of income, you are required to complete a “Zero Income Reporting” form annually. This is true for any individual who is 18 years of age or older with no income.
What protection do I have as a tenant if the property I reside in is being foreclosed?
Please refer to the following document for more information about tenant protections during foreclosure.
Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act - Guidance on New Tenant Protections
Can the person who buys the building at foreclosure make me leave right away?
No, the new owner cannot force you to vacate the property immediately. The new owner needs to end your tenancy by giving you a 90-day notice to leave.
If you have an unexpired lease, you may be able to stay until the end of the lease.
What happens if I don’t pay the new owner rent?
If you do not pay your portion of rent to the new owner, the new owner can send you a letter giving you a deadline to pay or move.
What if I have a one-year lease that has more than 90 days left?
In most cases, the new owner cannot evict you until the end of the lease. There are two exceptions.
If the new owner wants to use your home as his/her primary residence, the new owner only has to give you a 90-day notice to leave after becoming the owner.
If you do not pay your rent, the new owner only has to give you a deadline notice.
What if the new owner files an eviction?
If the new owner files for eviction, you may file an answer with the court that says the new owner failed to give the notice required by the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, Pub. L. No. 111-22, §702 (2009).
Changes in Household Composition
If there are changes in your family household, you must report those changes in writing to your residential coordinator within ten (10) business days. This includes additions due to birth, adoption, and court-awarded custody. Household additions/members that are not reported within the 10 days will be considered unauthorized household members. This will be considered a serious program violation and may result in termination of assistance.
- Changes in Household Composition
How do I add an adult to my household?
You must get prior permission from your landlord and prior approval from DOH in order to have an adult household member (18 years or older) move in with you. The owner and you must complete and sign the "Add/Remove a Family Member" form within ten business days. In addition, the new adult family member must provide his/her birth certificate, Social Security card and Colorado photo identification card to DOH or their residential coordinator prior to approval.
Family additions are at DOH discretion. Related adults may be added to a household only as a disability accommodation for the head of household or the head of household’s dependent(s).DOH may consider the addition of related adults when the household can demonstrate that it is necessary and reasonable for them to provide medical/life activities care for the proposed addition(s). Example: A head of household demonstrates that her disabled, elderly mother needs to come and live with her for reasons related to her disability and has no other means of obtaining affordable and safe housing.
If an adult who was previously on the household’s lease leaves the household but wishes to return within one year of leaving, DOH may consider reinstating this adult to the household subject to an acceptable criminal background check. The income of new household member(s) must be verified and will be used to recalculate the rent portion. In addition, part of the approval process requires that criminal activity and the U.S. citizenship and/or eligible immigrant status of the additional family member(s) is declared and verified.
How do I add a child to my household?
If you are adding children (under 18 years of age) to your family through birth, adoption, or court-awarded custody/guardianship, the change must be reported in writing within ten (10) business days of the family addition. You will also be required to fill out and sign the "Add/Remove a Family Member" form. In addition, you will be required to present the child’s birth certificate and social security card to your residential coordinator. The income of new household member(s) must be verified and will be used to recalculate the rent portion. In addition, part of the approval process requires that U.S. citizenship and/or eligible immigrant status of the additional family member(s) is declared and verified. In the cases of custody, guardianship will be verified with a copy of a court-ordered assignment, affidavit from parent, verification from a social service agency school records, or another legal document that verifies this information.
How do I remove family member(s)from my household?
If you wish to remove a household member, you must complete the "Add/Remove a Family Member" form. This form must be signed by the head of household, the family member being removed and also the landlord. Your residential coordinator will process the interim upon receipt of these items. The income of the person removed from the household can be deleted from the record without re-verifying the household’s income.
Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence
The federal law known as Violence Against Women and the Department of Justice Reauthorization Act (VAWA) protects rental assistance recipients who become victims of domestic violence, dating violence or stalking.
- Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence
Who does VAWA protect?
The law protects Section 8 tenants who are victims of domestic violence from losing their rent subsidy or being evicted from their apartment because of problems caused by their assailant or stalker.
A landlord may evict and end assistance to any tenant who engages in domestic violence. This may be done without evicting or taking action against the perpetrator’s family members living in the same unit.
The law is not an absolute or blanket protection. Tenants who are victims of domestic violence may be subject to eviction and loss of rental assistance if they have committed other violations of their lease.
What do I need to do to verify that I am a victim of domestic violence?A police report or court order A document signed by a professional counselor or case worker with whom the victim has sought assistance HUD approved form (50066)
Tenants who claim protection under the Violence Against Women law must provide documentation of domestic violence by any of the following:
Tenants who fail to provide verification within fourteen (14) business days of the date requested will forfeit protections provided under the Violence Against Women law.
Frequently Used Forms
- 30 Day Notice
- Family Reporting Form
- Housing Discrimination Form
- Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form
- Request to Add/Delete a Family Member
- Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA)
- Zero Income Reporting Form
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