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What is HCV?

Housing Choice Voucher Facts

What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?

The housing choice voucher (HCV) program is the federal government's primary program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the HCV tenant, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs) that receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This means that the tenant, landlord, and PHA all have obligations and responsibilities under the HCV program. A brief summary of each party's role is below:

HUD: HUD provides funds to allow PHAs to make housing assistance payments on behalf of the HCV tenants. HUD also pays the PHA a fee for the costs of administering the program. HUD monitors the PHA administration of the program to ensure program rules are properly followed.

Public Housing Agency: The PHA administers the HCV program locally and provides the HCV tenant with housing assistance. The PHA must examine the tenant's income and household composition and ensure that their housing unit meets minimum housing quality standards. The PHA enters into a contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of the family.

Landlord: The role of the landlord in the HCV 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. The Landlord enters into a lease agreement with the tenant.

Tenant: When a tenant selects a housing unit, they are expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay their share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition, and notify the PHA of any changes in income or family composition.

Rent: The PHA determines a payment standard that is between 90% and 110% of the Fair Market Rents regularly published by HUD, representing the cost to rent a moderately-priced dwelling unit in the local housing market. The housing voucher tenant 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 tenant is required to pay the additional amount.

HCV Households

  • 8.75 years is the average household time in the program
  • 29.2% are elderly (older than 62)
  • 25.5% are non-elderly disabled
  • 45.5% are single person
  • Over 75,000 HCVs are designated for Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing

HCV Unit Type*

  • 24.6% are single-family detached
  • 11.4% are semi-detached
  • 17.2% are rowhouse/townhouse
  • 33.9% are low-rise buildings
  • 10.3% are high-rise buildings
  • 1.9% are manufactured homes

*Does not include MTW agency data

HCV Unit Location

  • 59.1% are in central cities
  • 37.4% are in suburbs
  • 2.9% are in rural areas

The data in this document is current as of December 2020.

For more detailed information regarding the HCV Program, please click here.