Housing Choice Voucher Program

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, HCVP (formerly Section 8) is a federal program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The program provides assistance to very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled, allowing them to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. Eligible families who receive a voucher have the opportunity to search for housing that is convenient for them. 

You may apply online by visiting gosection8.com.  

Applications for HCVP are accepted at the following location:

Lawrence Housing Authority
Department of Occupancy & Admission
353 Elm Street
Lawrence, MA 01841

If you have any questions, please contact our office at 978-683-2751

Scroll down on this page for information on waitlist, FAQs, preference, and appeals.

For more program details, click the buttons below.

Waitlist

Lawrence Housing Authority uses a waitlist to administer the HCVP.

The LHA administers about 998 vouchers. Applicants are placed on a waitlist according to the date and timestamp of receiving the application. Preferences for which applicants may be eligible will impact waitlist placement. All applications are date and time-stamped when received. Applicants from the top of the waitlist will be screened for eligibility when a voucher becomes available. The amount of time that an applicant waits for assistance cannot be predicted.

FAQs for HCVP Participants

The initial term of the voucher is 60 days.

To obtain an extension, the family must make a request in writing prior to the expiration date. 

 

A statement of the efforts the family has made to find a unit must accompany the request.  A sample extension request form and a form for recording their search efforts is included in the family’s briefing packet.  If the family documents their efforts and additional time can reasonably be expected to result in success, the LHA may grant the length of request sought by the family.  The LHA will extend vouchers in sixty (60) day increments. The LHA may grant one or more extensions of the term, but the initial term plus any extensions will never exceed one hundred eighty (180) calendar days from the initial date of issuance.

 

Upon a family’s request, the LHA will extend the voucher term if needed as a reasonable accommodation to make the program accessible to a family member who is a person with disabilities.

A family will pay approximately 30% of their monthly adjusted income as the tenant portion of the rent at time of admission. The LHA through the program will pay the difference between your amount and the Payment Standard set by HUD.

 

Payment standards are used in the calculation of the housing assistance payment (HAP) that the LHA pays to the owner on behalf of the family renting the unit. Payment standard is the maximum monthly assistance payment for a family assisted in the voucher program (before deducting the total tenant payment by the family).

 

Voucher holders are encouraged to search for residential units based on the price limits listed on the Payment Standard.

The owner and tenant must decide who will be responsible for the payment of utilities. These responsibilities must be outlined in the lease and contract.

When the family finds a residential unit of interest, the family and the owner will complete and sign a proposed lease, the HUD required tenancy addendum and the request for approval of the tenancy form.  The family must submit the proposed lease and request form to the LHA during the term of the voucher.  The LHA will review the request, the lease, and the HUD required tenancy addendum and make an initial determination of approval of tenancy.  The LHA may assist the family in negotiating changes that may be required for the tenancy to be approvable.  Once it appears the tenancy may be approvable, the LHA will schedule an appointment to inspect the unit within fifteen (15) days after the receipt of inspection request from the family and owner. This period is suspended during any period the unit is unavailable for inspection.  The LHA will promptly notify the owner and the family if the unit and tenancy are approvable.

The LHA will approve a lease if all of the following conditions are met:

A. The unit is eligible;

B. The unit is inspected by the LHA and passes HQS;

C. The unit is in compliance with local and State laws regarding lead paint;

D. The lease is approvable and includes the following:

 

  • The names of the owner and the tenant;
  • The address of the unit rented;
  • The term of the lease (initial term and the provisions for renewal);
  • The amount of the monthly rent to owner;
  • A specification of what utilities and appliances are to be supplied by the owner, and what utilities are to be supplied by the family; and
  • The HUD-required tenancy addendum.

 

E. The rent to owner is reasonable, as defined by the rent reasonableness standard;

F. The family’s share of rent does not exceed 40% of their monthly adjusted income if the gross rent exceeds the payment standard;

G. The owner has not been found to be barred, suspended, or subject to a limited denial of participation by HUD or the LHA, and does not have any state or local delinquent taxes owing on the rental property;

H. The family continues to meet all eligibility and screening criteria.

The LHA does not pay the Security Deposit. The cost of the Security Deposit is not covered under the HCV Program. It is paid by the tenant. Owners may collect a security deposit but are not required to do so, and amounts may vary. The owner may collect a security deposit from the tenant in an amount not in excess of market practice and not in excess of amounts charged by the owner to unassisted tenants.

Preference

The LHA has established preferences for selecting applicants from its waiting list.

Local Preference

Applicants whose head or spouse resides in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts.  An applicant who works or has been hired to work in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts. The applicant requesting this local preference is required to provide the LHA with verification of residency or of employment or hire in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts. This verification may be based on any one or all of the following documents, which includes, but is not limited to: rent receipts, utility bills, addressed mail, employment checks, and third-party employment certifications.  The LHA may require a home visit by the HQS Inspector or the Tenant Investigator to verify an applicant’s residency, and the LHA may require a visit to the employer or employment site by the HQS Inspector or the Tenant Investigator to verify an applicant’s employment or location of hire.

Veteran Preference

An applicant requesting this preference is required to supply the LHA with a copy of his or her DD-214 form or a verification from a veteran’s agency.

Working / Disabled Preference

An applicant requesting this preference must provide the LHA with verification that the head or spouse of the family or a member whose income will be used to calculate the monthly rent is currently working twenty (20) hours per week, and has been working at least that number of hours per week for the last six months.  The LHA will extend this working preference to families whose head or spouse or adult member demonstrates a strong employment history, at least two (2) years of consistent employment, who is currently out of work, and has been for the last three (3) months.  This preference is also extended equally to all elderly, and this preference extends to families whose head or spouse is receiving income based on their inability to work. This preference is also extended to non-working or no-disabled families who have a disabled member.  Non-working or non-disabled families requesting this preference will be required to provide the LHA with medical certification of the existence of a member’s disability or verification of the member’s receipt of disability income.

Appeals Process

All requests for appeals should be sent to the Department of Occupancy and Admission. Also, if you or anyone in your family is a person with disabilities and you require a specific accommodation in order to fully utilize our programs and services, please contact Datanis Elias at the Lawrence Housing Authority.

If you have any questions, our office contact information is: Lawrence Housing Authority, Department of Occupancy & Admission, 353 Elm Street, Lawrence, MA  01841 or by phone at 978-683-2751.

The LHA will give an applicant for the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) notice of a decision denying assistance to the applicant if found to be ineligible for the program.

The notice will contain a brief statement of the reasons for the decision, and it will state that the applicant may request an informal review within twenty (20) business days of the denial, along with information regarding the nearest local legal services organization.

When Informal Review Is Not Required

The LHA will not provide an applicant an opportunity for an informal review for any of the following reasons:

  1. A determination of the family unit size under the LHA’s subsidy standards.
  2. LHA determination not to approve an extension or suspension of a certificate or voucher term.
  3. LHA determination not to grant approval to lease a unit under the program or to approve a proposed lease.
  4. LHA determination that a unit selected by the applicant is not in compliance with HQS.
  5. LHA determination that the unit is not in accordance with HQS because of family size or composition.
  6. General policy issues or class grievances.
  7. Discretionary administrative determinations by the LHA.

Informal Review Process

The LHA will give an applicant an opportunity for an informal review of the decision denying assistance to the applicant.  The procedure is as follows:

  1. The review will be conducted by any person, other than the person who made or approved the decision under review or a subordinate of this person, designated by the LHA.
  2. The applicant will be given an opportunity to present written or oral objections to the decision.
  3. The LHA will notify the applicant of the LHA’s decision after the informal review within a reasonable time, not to exceed fourteen (14) days.  If the LHA needs additional time for a decision which would cause the LHA to exceed fourteen (14) days’ notice, the LHA will notify the applicant regarding the delay.  The notification will include a brief statement of the reasons for the final decision.

Informal Review Procedures for Denial of Assistance on the Basis of Ineligible Immigration Status

The applicant family may request that the LHA provide for an informal review after the family has notification of the INS decision on appeal, or in lieu of request of appeal to the INS.  The family must request the informal review within 30 days of receipt of the Notice of Denial or Termination of Assistance, or within 30 days of receipt of the INS appeal decision.

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