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Rental Assistance Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) or “Voucher” program is a federal rental assistance program funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) where very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled receive assistance to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. As a state housing agency, THDA administers the Housing Choice Voucher program in 72 Tennessee counties, between 4 regional offices. The offices and county service areas are:

Who is Eligible for Vouchers? 
Eligibility for a Housing Choice Voucher is based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens and non-citizens who have eligible immigration status.  In general, the family's income may not exceed 80 percent of the area median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live.  Federal rules require 75 percent of new households admitted each year to be “extremely low income,” with incomes that do not exceed 30 percent of the area median income.  Median income levels are published by HUD annually and vary by county.  The income limits may be found here:
Other eligibility criteria also apply such as criminal history and prior rental history (in public or subsidized housing programs).

How Does a Family Apply for a Voucher?
The family must submit an application with the public housing agency who administers the program in the county where they wish to live.  To see counties where THDA is the administrator, please see the Rental Assistance Field Office information on this site. Go here for information on applying for a THDA waiting list: Instructions for Applying for an HCV Waiting List.  See the link to the left for contact information for other PHAs or follow the link to the HUD website listed above.

How Long will a Family Wait for Assistance?
The waiting period varies based upon turnover of currently assisted families (families leaving the program) and funding awards made by Congress annually.  THDA is unable to predict the waiting time for an individual family.  Metropolitan counties tend to have a larger number of applicants; longer lists and longer waiting periods.  In THDA’s program, to ensure that we serve the residents of each county, an applicant must live in the county for which they applied for one year after admission before becoming eligible to relocate with the voucher to another county or state.

What Happens when a Family’s Name Reaches the Top of the Waiting List?
Once a family’s name comes to the top of the waiting list, THDA will mail a letter to the last address entered into the waiting list or reported to THDA by the family.  At the briefing appointment, the family learns about the program requirements; THDA collect information about the family, income, assets and certain medical and expenses.  A criminal background check for each adult household member is also authorized.  Final eligibility will be determined within four weeks of the initial appointment.  If the family is eligible, a voucher will be mailed, along with other documents for the landlord to complete and information about available housing units in the area.  The family’s search for housing begins.   A family that is issued a 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 THDA or the PHA.

The voucher term is sixty (60) days.  The family must find suitable housing within 60 days or the assistance is denied and voucher turned over to another eligible, waiting family.

Once the family has selected a unit and it is approved, a portion of the rent is paid monthly to the landlord by THDA or another PHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.