In the US decent, secure, and hygienic dwellings are a basic right for citizens. However, it has been impossible for the under privileged- elderly, low income earners and the disabled to comfortably afford decent housing units from private housing agents. Housing Choice Voucher is a free voucher given to a tenant as a subsidy for rent. The Federal Government runs the Housing Choice Vouchers Program with federal funds from the US Department of Housing. The free program ensures that the target group is able to afford comfortable and standard housing. The parties in are: the Public Housing Agencies, the target group- tenant, housing urban development and the landlord.
Acquisition of the housing choice voucher
- The tenant must be a US citizen. For non-citizens, legal immigration status must be provided.
- The tenant must prove usage of uses over 50% of annual gross income to pay rent.
- A tenant must apply through the local PHA and confirm the local area jurisdiction.
- A tenant must be able to find standardized suitable housing once the voucher is given.
How do you verify a participant is in need?
Verification of the details is done through local agencies, banks and employers to prove the financial capability of the participant. Once approved the family is put on a waiting list, then contacted to issue the housing choice voucher. The number of applicants always exceeds the available resources. The participants are selected on a first-come- first-served basis. At times, very needy cases are always given priority; determined by involuntary displacement, the homeless and a family who spends 50% of annual gross income on rent.
How does PHA implement the program?
Based on family size, a more needy case is given a variety of housing choice options. Before PHA approval and housing choice voucher issuance the housing unit selected must be inspected and validated if it meets the basic health and safety standards. PHA has a standard rate on housing charges in different locations. This measure is to protect the tenant from exploitation by the tenants. A tenant is not limited to a housing unit equivalent to the subsidy, if it is in excess the extra rent charges is upon the tenant to pay.
What is the relocation obligations t under the housing choice program?
A housing choice voucher beneficiary is allowed to relocate, but the local PHA must be informed prior to the relocation day. A beneficiary should move within the jurisdiction of the PHA.
How are the housing choice voucher parties are obliged?
The landlord must be able to provide at least a one-year lease to the tenant, after the first year, even a monthly lease is acceptable. The landlord is also obliged to maintain hygiene and utility services to ensure comfort of the tenant. All housing units under the program have a standardized measure of health and safety.
The tenant who is the beneficiary of the program must sign the lease provided by the landlord. The tenant is also obliged to retain the dwelling with less or no damages. In case an excess payment is required, the tenant must pay the landlord on time.
Public Housing Agency (PHA) must be able to pay the housing subsidy of the beneficiary on time. Its also mandated to reevaluate the beneficiaries income from time to time to access the financial inability or ability. The agency is also responsible for quality housing and maximum comfort of the beneficiary.
The United State through this program clearly minds the welfare of the underprivileged economy. Other countries should also borrow a leaf to reduce informal settlements especially in urban set up.