About housing choice vouchers
The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program is rental subsidy funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is generally managed by Local Housing Authorities (LHA).
How to Participate in Housing Choice Vouchers
The first step is to get on our waiting list. You can complete a preliminary application at The Housing Authority of the City of Hagerstown (HHA) during regular business hours, or click here to apply online.
HHA is the Housing Authority assigned by HUD to administer the Housing Choice Voucher Program. HHA will stamp and date your application so that everyone is processed fairly and consistently. It is very important to advise HHA in writing of any updates, address changes, new phone numbers, or family size in your preliminary application. Applications are accepted by anyone who is at least 18 years old or otherwise recognized as a legal adult by the courts. Local preference will be granted to those living and/or working in Washington County. Assistance may be denied or terminated if an applicant or family member has been arrested or convicted of violent crimes or illegal drug charges. Assistance for active participants can also be terminated for these reasons.
The applicant’s present dwelling unit may qualify if the unit meets the Housing Choice Voucher Program Housing Quality Standards and the landlord is willing to participate in the program. As detailed in federal regulations, a voucher holder may move anywhere in the United States where the Housing Choice Voucher Program is administered.
How the Program Works
The interview advises those nearing the top of the waiting list of the HUD rules and regulations and HA policies and procedures. We must now verify all information that you claimed on your application. All verifications must be current (no more than 60 days old). We also require a copy of your latest income tax return or certification that you did not file. All information will be verified. A Housing Processor will review family income to determine the eligibility portion, if any, that an applicant may have to contribute monthly for rent and utilities.
After all processing is complete, if you are eligible, you will be issued a voucher to look for housing or remain in your present housing. Eligible families are issued a voucher which gives a family 120 days to locate a unit. Once a unit is located the family submits a Request for Tenancy Approval. HHA will review the request and inspect unit to ensure that it meets HUD Housing Quality Standards (be decent, safe and sanitary) and meet a rent reasonableness evaluation to determine if requested rent is reasonable for the area in which the unit is located.
Once the Housing Authority approves an eligible family’s lease and unit, the family and landlord will sign a lease. The landlord and HHA sign a housing assistance payment contract (HAP) which runs for the same term as the lease. At that time, the family is given authorization to move into the unit.
Your Family's Responsibilities
- Sign a lease with the landlord
- Pay a security deposit if required by landlord
- Comply with lease and program requirements
- Pay your share of rent on time
- Maintain the home in good condition
- Avoid damage to property
- Refrain from disturbing others
- Notify the HA of any changes in income or family composition
- Attend all HA appointments
Your Landlord's Responsibilities
- Provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing
- Screen families to determine good renters
- Allow the HA to inspect unit yearly or at requested intervals
- Complete repairs within the allotted time
- Collect appropriate security deposit
- Comply with fair housing laws
- Collect rent due by the family and otherwise enforce the lease
- Administer the voucher program locally
- Provide rental assistance for eligible families
- Re-certify families annually
- Enforce compliance with Housing Quality Standards
- Make HAP payments timely to landlords
- Provide families and owners with prompt, professional service
Your landlord may have insurance to protect the building you are living in, but your landlord’s policy won’t replace your personal possessions or pay for your living expenses while the building is being repaired.
The only way to protect yourself financially against disasters is to buy a renters insurance policy.
Renters insurance, sometimes referred to as tenants insurance, includes three basic types of protection:
- Personal Possessions
- Additional Living Expenses
Standard renters insurance protects your personal belongings against damage from fire, smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm, water and other disasters listed in the policy. Floods and earthquakes are generally not covered. Supplemental insurance is available to cover these disasters.
To decide how much insurance to buy, you need to know the value of all your personal possessions—including furniture, clothing, electronics, appliances, kitchen utensils and even towels and bedding. In other words, if your home were to burn, you should have enough insurance to replace all of your possessions.
The easiest way to figure out how much insurance coverage to buy is to create a home inventory (a detailed list of all of your personal possessions, with their estimated value). An up-to-date home inventory will also make filing an insurance claim faster and easier.
Standard renters insurance policies provide liability protection against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or your family members cause to other people. It also pays for damage your pets cause. So, for example, if your son, daughter or dog accidentally ruins your neighbor’s expensive rug, you’ll be covered. However, if your children or pets destroy your own rug, you will not be covered.
The liability portion of a renters policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and for court awards, up to the limit of the policy. Liability limits generally start at about $100,000. You can also buy an Umbrella or Excess Liability policy, which provides higher limits and broader coverage. Generally, umbrella policies cost a bit more.
Your policy may also provide No-fault Medical coverage. So, if a friend or neighbor is injured in your home, you can submit their medical bills directly to your insurance company. It doesn’t, however, pay the medical bills for your own family or your pet.
Many people don’t know that Additional Living Expenses coverage, also known as ALE, is included in a renters insurance policy. If your home is destroyed by a disaster that your policy covers and you need to live elsewhere, renters insurance covers your additional living expenses. Policies will generally reimburse you the difference between your additional living expenses and your normal living expenses. ALE covers hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals and other expenses you have incurred while your home is being rebuilt.
Actual Cash Value pays to replace your possessions minus an amount for depreciation (the reduction in the value of items due to age and use) up to the limit of your policy.
Replacement Cost pays the actual cost of replacing your possessions (with no deduction for depreciation), up to the limit of your policy. The price of Replacement Cost coverage is about 10 percent more than Actual Cash Value coverage but can be well worth the extra cost.
Renters insurance is easy to get, and there are many insurance companies to choose from. Insurers who offer homeowners insurance generally also sell renters insurance. In fact, a renters insurance policy and a homeowners insurance policy are almost identical. The main difference is that a renters policy doesn’t include coverage for the building, since the landlord owns that.
Prices vary from company to company, so it pays to shop around. Get at least three price quotes. You can call companies directly or get quotes from the Internet.
Get quotes from different types of insurance companies. Some insurers sell through their own agents. These agencies have the same name as the insurance company. Some sell through independent agents, who offer policies from several insurance companies. Others don’t use agents at all but sell directly to consumers over the phone or via the Internet.
But don’t shop by price alone. Select a company that answers your questions and handles claims fairly and efficiently. Ask friends and relatives for their recommendations.
Look for an agent or company representative who takes the time to answer your questions. Remember, you’ll be dealing with this person if you have an accident or other emergency.
These are some ways to save money on premiums: Consider taking a higher deductible (the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance company starts to pay a claim). The higher your deductible, the more money you save on your premium. Consider a deductible of at least $500. If you can afford to raise it to $1,000, you may get as much as 25 percent off your premium. Remember, though, that you’ll pay the deductible each time you file a claim.
Insurance companies often offer discounts on renters insurance if you have another policy with them for your car or business. More discounts might be available depending on your age or whether or not you smoke.
The Hagerstown Housing Authority has partnered with Yardi Systems to expand our ability to interact with our voucher holders online. Once implemented, the tenant portal will serve as a ‘one stop shop’ for you to update your household information, submit forms, and more.
Through the Section 8 HCV program, your home will be inspected regularly to determine whether it has been maintained in an acceptable condition. Aside from mandatory inspections through the HHA, your landlord may also require inspections on their own schedule. Inspections focus primarily on health and safety. Your home needs to be kept in such a way that your family can live there safely, and there are no health concerns that may affect the well being of the members of your household. If you fail to pass inspection, you may be at risk of losing your voucher. To learn more, please read through our inspection policy by clicking the button below.