What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?

The Housing Choice Voucher program (formerly called the Section 8 Program) is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.

A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the Housing Authority 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.

The Housing Choice Voucher program offers two housing options, each with their own waiting list: tenant-based vouchers and project-based vouchers. Tenant-based vouchers allow assisted households to use a voucher at open rental markets units. The project-based voucher offers rental housing options at specific housing locations.

Project-Based Vouchers Click here to apply 

The project-based voucher (PBV) is one part of the HCV program. It helps pay for rent in privately owned rental housing, but only in specific privately owned buildings or units. That means that if you get a project-based voucher, you don’t get to choose the unit you live in.

The project-based voucher is for people with low income who are willing to live in specific housing units that are offered to them. When a unit is available, the Housing Authority will offer it to someone who is on the PBV waiting list. This is different from the tenant-based program, because if you accept PBV assistance, you do not get to choose the unit you live in nor do you get to keep your PBV benefit if you move.

After one year of assistance in a project-based unit, the family may switch to the tenant-based voucher program and exercise portability if they choose, with some restrictions.

Tenant-Based Vouchers – Closed for applications

Tenant-based vouchers allow participants to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The Housing Authority receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program.

A family that is issued a tenant-based 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 the Housing Authority.

Am I eligible?

Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the Housing Authority based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, the family’s income may not exceed 80% of the median income for Santa Barbara County as published by HUD (see income limits here).

By law, the Housing Authority must provide 75% of its vouchers to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30% of the area median income.

How do I apply?

The tenant-based voucher program wait list is currently closed to new applications; to apply for the project-based voucher program, please click here.

Portability Questions?

For information about Portability, please click here.

Housing Choice Voucher Briefing Video

All enrolled participants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program – also known as Section 8 – must take part in a program briefing as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, all in-person briefings have been suspended. Instead, new enrolled participants must watch HACSB’s HCV briefing video.

Note: An individual or family must be determined eligible to be accepted into the HCV Program. Watching this video does not qualify a household for assistance.

Section 8 Briefing Video – English

Section 8 Briefing Video – Spanish

Temporary modifications to policy and regulation regarding the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program due to the Coronavirus/COIVD-19 pandemic.

Click here to view HACSB’s adopted waivers.

Move to Work Plan

What is Move to Work?

Moving to Work (MTW) is a demonstration program for housing authorities that provides designated MTW agencies the opportunity to design and test innovative, locally designed strategies that use Federal dollars more efficiently, help residents find employment and become self-sufficient, and increase housing choices for low-income families. MTW allows housing authorities exemptions from many existing voucher rules and provides funding flexibility with how they use their Federal funds. The MTW flexibility would allow HACSB to tailor its landlord incentives to make the Section 8 program more attractive to landlords.

Housing authorities in the MTW demonstration have established several innovative policies that have been proven to be successful at the local level, and subsequently rolled out to the rest of the country’s housing authorities. Currently, there are 80 MTW housing authorities nationwide and HACSB hopes to be one of the additional 59 PHAs that will be selected to participate in 2022 under MTW Expansion.

What Changes will there be?

HACSB is applying under cohort 4.  The fourth cohort of the MTW Expansion will evaluate landlord incentives and their effect on landlord participation in the HCV/Section 8 program.  Housing authorities applying under the fourth cohort of the MTW Expansion must implement at least two MTW landlord incentive activities from a provided list of MTW landlord incentive activities.

HACSB already has many of the proposed landlord incentives in place; these include a $500 bonus payment to first time landlords.  And a landlord protection program which provides a payment of up to $2,00 to cover unpaid rent, damage to a unit or attorney fees that were not covered when a tenant vacated. If approved for MTW status, we will expand the current incentives and adopt additional ones to make the Section 8 program more attractive to landlords and make it easier for voucher holders to find units to rent.

When will we know if we are selected to participate?

HUD will select housing authorities for the fourth cohort of the MTW Expansion using a lottery. HACSB is required to create a draft MTW plan which will list the landlord incentives that we will implement. The draft plan will be posted on our website so that it is available to the public and then it will be submitted to the Housing Authority Board in July for their approval prior to being submitted to HUD.  We then will not know whether we are awarded MTW status until sometime between Oct.- Dec.

Do Section 8 participants have to work?

Despite the name Moving to Work there is no requirement that Section 8 voucher holders must work.

More Information on MTW

Move to Work Brochure

Move to Work Zoom Video – English

Notice of Public Hearing – Wednesday July 7, 2021 at 4:00 p.m.