FAQ - Housing Choice Voucher


How can I obtain a voucher or apply for the Section 8 Program?

  • In order to be eligible to participate on the Section 8 Program you must first apply. Vouchers are given to eligible applicants on the waiting list based on application date, time, and preference. To be considered an eligible applicant, you must meet HUD established income limits and pass a criminal background check.


What changes must I report to the Section 8 Department between annual reexaminations? 

Increase in Income

  • Families must report all increases in income and assets.
  • Families will be required to report increases of at least $200 in household monthly income.
  • Families are also required to report all household income which comes from a new source.
  • Increased tenant rent is effective on the first of the month, following a 30 day notice.
  • If the family does not report an increase in income and/or fails to schedule an interim reexamination and provide our office with the necessary documents, reimbursement to COC may be required.

Decrease in Income

  • Families may report a decrease in income and other changes which would reduce the amount of tenant rent, such as an increase in allowances or deductions.
  • COC must calculate the change if a decrease in income is reported.
  • Decreased tenant rent is effective the first month, following from when the change is reported.
  • If the family does not report the decrease in income and/or fails to schedule an interim reexamination and provide our office with the necessary documents, the decrease will not be retroactive.

Family Composition Changes

  • Families must report all changes in household composition to COC.
  • This includes additions in household composition due to birth, adoption and court-awarded custody.
  • The family must obtain COC approval prior to all other additions to the household.
  • When removing someone from the lease, the family must provide proof of their new address.

Absence from the Household

  • Household members must notify COC if they are going to be absent from the unit for more than 30 consecutive days.
  • Any member of the household will be considered permanently absent if he/she is away from the unit for 3 consecutive months or 90 calendar days in a 12 month period.


When should I report the changes to the Section 8 Department?

  • All changes must be reported to COC, in writing, within 10 calendar days of when the change occurs. The family must also schedule an interim reexamination appointment and provide COC with any information, documents, or signatures needed from the all household members which are needed to verify the changes within 30 days of the change.


Who do I contact in the Section 8 office to report changes, schedule an appointment, or receive general information regarding my participation on the program?

  • If you are a current participant of the Section 8 program whose voucher is administered by Charter Oak Communities or if you are a landlord of a current program participant you may contact the specialist assigned to your case using the directory below. Each Section 8 Specialist is assigned an alphabetical caseload by “Participant’s Last Name”.
  • For more information please click here.


How much does Section 8 pay for each unit? 

  • The amount of subsidy Section 8 pays per unit varies. The amount Section 8 pays is determined by several factors such as the payment standards, families’ income, the families’ allowable deductions, contract rent, and utility allowances.
  • Annually, COC establishes new payment standards which are used to determine rental subsidy based on the Fair Market Rents (FMRs).


What are the current COC payment standards?

  • Effective 10/2016 the current payment standards are:
    • Payment standards are not used to determine rent, instead they are used to determine subsidy. Rents must be reasonable as determined by COC, and may be higher or lower than, or equal to the payment standards.
    • 0 Bedroom-$1,366
    • 1 Bedroom-$1,692
    • 2 Bedrooms-$2,153
    • 3 Bedrooms-$2,733
    • 4 Bedrooms-$3,227
  • For more information please click here.


What are Fair Market Rents (FMRs) and how are they used to set payment standards in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program?

  • Each year the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) surveys rents and units to determine the value of rental units by bedroom size and amenities.  This data is then used to create guidance for Housing Authorities on how much they can spend on rental units in their cities called Fair Market Rents (FMRs).
  • FMRs are gross rent estimates, which include the cost of rent plus the cost of all utilities. FMRs are used by Housing Authorities to establish the payment standard, which is the maximum allowable subsidy amount to calculate Housing Assistance Payments (HAP). Payment standards may be set at any level between 90% and 110% of the published FMR for that unit size (24 CFR 982.503(b)). COCs' payment standards are set at 110% of the FMRs.


If the payment standard increases or decreases during the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract is COC required to adjust the family’s rent at that time, using the higher or lower payment standard?

  • As defined in 24 CFR 982.505, if the payment standard amount increases during the term of the HAP contract, the increased payment standard amount shall be used to calculate the monthly HAP for the family beginning at the effective date of the family’s first annual reexamination on or after the effective date of the increase in the payment standard amount.
  • If the amount on the payment standard schedule is decreased during the term of the HAP contract, the lower payment standard amount generally must be used to calculate the monthly HAP for the family beginning at the effective date of the family’s second annual reexamination, following the effective date of the decrease in the payment standard amount. COC shall advise the family that the application of the lower payment standard amount will be deferred until the second annual reexamination, following the effective date of the decrease in the payment standard amount.


How often does COC have to update its payment standards?

  • Per HUD regulation, 24 CFR 982.54(d) (14) and COC policy, COC must update the payment standards annually.


How will a decrease in payment standards impact the calculation of tenant rental portions and HAP’s?

  • The amount Section 8 pays is determined by several factors such as the payment standards, families’ income, the families’ allowable deductions, contract rent, and utility allowances. If the payment standards decrease that reduces the subsidy COC can offer families; therefore, the tenant rental portion would increase and the HAP would decrease.


Will the family have to move out of the unit, if the contract rent exceeds the payment standard?

  • No, the family will not have to move during their annual recertification if the contract rent exceeds the payment standard. However, if the contract rent and utility expenses exceed the payment standards, there may be an increase in the tenant rental portion.


Can a landlord increase the contract rent?

  • After the initial 12 month HAP contract ends, a landlord may request a rent increase. All rent increases must be submitted to the tenant with a copy to the Section 8 office and a 60-day written notice of the proposed rental increase date. All rental increases are subject to rental reasonableness and COC approval.


Can a landlord decrease the contract rent?

  • Yes, a landlord may decrease the contract rent to prevent the family from paying a higher tenant rental portion as a result to the decreased payment standards or to prevent the family from moving as a result of the decreased payment standards.


How is rent approved or determined “reasonable”?

  • Per HUD regulation, 24 CFR 982.507, the rent landlords charge for a Section 8 subsidized unit can never be more than rents charged for comparable unsubsidized units within the vicinity.
  • Rent reasonableness is determined on a case-by-case basis. COC compares proposed rents to the unsubsidized rents currently charged for similar sized units within the same building, or by other landlords for comparable units within the vicinity. COC will take into consideration size, location, quality, amenities, housing services, age of unit, unit type, maintenance, and utilities.
  • COC utilizes http://www.gosection8.com/, a web-based tool, to complete rent reasonableness determinations in compliance with HUD regulations.


Does Section 8 provide assistance with moving expenses and security deposit? 

  • The HCV program does not provide assistance with moving expenses and security deposit.