What is a Housing Choice Voucher?

The housing choice voucher program began in 1975 and 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. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.

The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in specific housing projects.

Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (HRAs). The HRAs receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program.

A family that is issued a housing choice 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 PHA.

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


ICHRA administers about 250 Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. This Rent Assistance Program provides rent subsidies for low-income individuals and families in privately owned, existing market rate housing units. The HRA pays the rent subsidy directly to the owner of the rental property with funds provided by HUD. The 250 vouchers are used to house qualified applicants in one through four-bedroom units.

Eligibility and Admission Preferences

The program is open to very low income individuals and families who are at or below the following income guidelines. The guidelines are set by Congress and HUD and are based on the Itasca County median family income adjusted for family size.

Family Size 30% Median 50% Median
(Very low - S8 limits)
1 15,200 25,350
2 17,400 29,000
3 21,330 32,600
4 25,750 36,200
5 30,170 39,100
6 34,590 42,000
7 39,010 44,900
8 43,430 47,800

A participant in the Voucher Program pays between 30% and 40% of their annual income for rent and utilities. The Voucher Program uses a Payment Standard (approximately equal to the Fair Market Rents published by HUD) that reflects the cost of housing and utilities for the Itasca County, and is used to determine the maximum subsidy that the family can receive. Generally, the subsidy paid to the owner by the PHA is the Payment Standard minus 30% of the family's monthly income. Any type of private rental housing is eligible and the unit must meet the federal Housing Quality Standards (HQS) to qualify.

Payment Standards and Rent Reasonableness

To determine what the current rates established by HUD are based on bedroom size, and for an explanation of what rent reasonableness is, please see Payment Standards and Rent Reasonableness.

Notice regarding Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

To view the notice to Housing Choice Voucher applicants and tenants regarding VAWA, please click HERE.

To obtain the form to apply for the VAWA provision, please click HERE.

Public Housing