Section 8/HCV Voucher Holder/Participant
Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, also known as Section 8, was created by Congress in 1974. It is the largest affordable housing program in the United States and is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The HCV / Section 8 program provides rental assistance to families, the elderly and persons with special needs who have incomes up to 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI).
Vouchers enable participants to receive a subsidy, while leasing from their choice of landlords in the private market. The rental assistance is designed so that families are not forced to spend an unreasonable portion of the monthly income on shelter. Section 8 tenants typically pay 30 percent of their monthly income for rent. The HCV / Section 8 program also allows families the flexibility to select the community or neighborhood in which they live, and vouchers can move with the tenant (portable).
Project-Based Voucher Program
Project-Based vouchers are similar to Section 8 vouchers, except they are tied to the units (not portable). Under the Project-Based Voucher program, the housing authority enters into an assistance contract with the owner for specified units and for a specified term. The goal of the Project-Based Voucher program is to expand the availability of higher quality affordable housing units to the elderly, disabled individuals, and homeless military veterans.
SPHA currently is administering the following Project-Based vouchers:
- 105 project-based vouchers for the low-income elderly (55 years and older) residents of Bay Pointe Tower (formerly Serenity Towers)
- 162 project-based vouchers for qualified elderly (55 and older) residents of the Philip Benjamin Tower
- 40 project-based vouchers for the homeless at the Pinellas Hope II transitional housing facility
- 23 project-based vouchers for Boley Centers, Inc. and Catholic Charities for veterans’ housing
If you are currently participating in SPHA’s Housing Choice Voucher program, here are the resources and forms that you need to maintain your voucher.
- What is the Housing Choice Voucher program?
The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, also known as Section 8, was created by Congress in 1974. It is the largest affordable housing program in the United States and is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Housing Choice (Section 8) participants receive vouchers to help them afford apartment rentals from their choice of landlords in the private market. The rental assistance is designed so that families are not forced to spend an unreasonable portion of their monthly income on shelter, and it also allows families the flexibility to select the community or neighborhood in which they live.
- What is the most I can earn and still be eligible for a Section 8 voucher?
Residents can earn up to 80 percent of Area Median Income. See the Maximum Qualifying Income Limits.
- What is the least I can earn and still be eligible?
There is no minimum income requirement for Section 8 applicants.
- How is rent determined?
Households pay approximately 30 percent of their household’s adjusted gross income, if all household members qualify.
- I am an applicant on the Section 8 wait list. When SPHA contacts me to let me know that a housing voucher is available, what should I expect?
You will be notified in writing of your selection from the wait list. At that time, you will be asked to submit current verification of your income and assets. SPHA also will perform a background check on all family members ages 18 and older. Once all verifications have been qualified, you will receive an invitation letter to attend a briefing. Immediately following the briefing, you will be issued a housing voucher to seek an affordable rental unit of your choice.
- Once I have the housing voucher, how do I find housing?
You are responsible for finding the apartment of your choice with a landlord who is willing to accept the voucher. Eligible housing units include all types of privately owned dwelling units located within SPHA’s service area, which includes the City of St. Petersburg and a 10-mile radius outside of the city. It is important that you find your apartment or house as soon as possible, since your voucher is only valid for sixty days after it is issued to you. To help you in your search, please visit: spha.gosection8.com online for a list of available apartments and houses.
- What do I do if my income changes?
If your income changes, please fill out the Interim Change Form (view the form) and deliver it to your Section 8 Housing Specialist immediately. Your Housing Specialist will calculate the change in your rent.
- What is SPHA’s role in the Section 8 program?
SPHA issues housing vouchers to qualifying low-income families and offers a briefing/orientation for those who are new to the Section 8 program. SPHA contracts with the private market landlord to pay the rental subsidy. SPHA ensures through inspections that the apartment or house is decent and safe per HUD regulations.
- What is the landlord’s role in the Section 8 program?
The landlord enters into a contract with SPHA and receives monthly Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) to subsidize the tenant’s rent. The landlord is responsible for enforcing the lease and monitoring tenant behavior.
- What is my responsibility as a Section 8 tenant?
Tenants are required to pay their security deposit for their unit and utilities and the actual amount of utility bills; to report all household income for all members of the household and from all sources, public and private; to report all changes in household size; to maintain the unit in good condition; and to abide by the lease and fulfill its 12 month contractual term. Tenants should make sure to review the lease carefully with their landlords to understand it fully.
- What are my rights?
You have the right to dispute decisions about your rental portion or housing regulations. Please contact your Housing Specialist for more information about the grievance process.
- How do I report suspected fraud?
SPHA encourages the reporting of suspected fraud by residents, clients, and vendors. You can report suspected fraud by filling out the fraud form and submitting it to SPHA. You also may call 727-323-3171, ext. 211, to make a report. You may remain anonymous.
- Does SPHA offer any programs to help with job training or education?
Yes, SPHA helps residents apply for college scholarships. You can learn more at the bottom of this page.
SPHA has partnered with Gosection8.com to list rental properties online. Listings are available to potential HCV / Section 8 tenants seeking apartment units, duplexes, single-family homes or townhomes in the private market at spha.gosection8.com.
You can also search for available housing in your community online at floridahousingsearch.org.
All dwelling units must pass an inspection prior to occupancy and annually thereafter, conducted by SPHA staff inspectors. All properties inspected must comply with the established minimum Housing Quality Standards set for the City of St. Petersburg and specific HUD Housing Choice Voucher requirements. If you would like to request a unit inspection in addition to your annual inspection, please contact the inspections department at 727-323-3171.
All Section 8 voucher holders must meet with their Housing Specialist for a scheduled interview, called a “recertification appointment,” once a year in order to maintain your housing assistance. An appointment letter will be mailed to you approximately 90 to 120 days prior to your annual recertification date.
Please bring the following information to your recertification appointment:
- If you are employed, please bring in your last eight weeks’ of pay stubs.
- If you receive Social Security or SSI, you will need a statement from the Social Security Administration indicating the current amount. If you receive income from a civil service annuity, veterans’ pensions, private retirement pensions, etc., you are required to provide current written documentation from the source of the income.
- You also will need to bring your last three (3) months’ checking account statements, savings account statements, certificates or deposits, stocks, bonds, money market accounts, mortgage interest, IRA/401K accounts, whole or universal life insurance, etc.
- If you are elderly or disabled, please provide proof of out-of-pocket medical expenses, which may include doctor’s visits, prescriptions, etc.
To find your Housing Specialist, please refer to this updated list of caseloads and look for the first letters of your last name.
Required Interim Change and Verification Form
The Interim Change Form should be completed at any time a tenant has a change in income and/or household composition. For an interim change, please download the PDF file, complete it, and submit all completed pages to your caseworker.
Personal Declaration Form
The Personal Declaration Form is required for all new enrollees prior to tenancy and thereafter at their annual recertification review.
Authorization for the Release of Information / Privacy Act Notice
The Authorization for the Release of Information / Privacy Act Notice allows HUD and the housing authority to verify your eligibility and level of benefits under HUD’s assisted housing programs.
Income limits for public housing and vouchers are set by the government. They change every year and are different in different parts of the state and for different sized families.
This chart shows the approved allowances for tenant-furnished utilities and other services.
This chart shows the approved allowances for tenant-furnished utilities and other services.
SPHA Section 8 Administrative Plan
This is the policy that governs the administration and operations of SPHA’s Section 8 / Housing Choice Voucher program.
Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
SPHA believes that all people should have equal access to the housing of their choice and conducts our business in accordance with the Federal Fair Housing law. For more information about fair housing and your rights, please visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing / Equal Opportunity website at hud.gov/fairhousing.
With rising tuition costs and unemployment rates, SPHA understands that many of our residents simply cannot afford to pursue some educational opportunities. Our staff works to help interested students living in Public or Section 8 Housing apply for national and local collegiate scholarships.