Who participates in the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
How is rental assistance provided?
What are the terms of the Lease?
How much may a landlord charge for a security deposit?
What if the tenant does not pay their portion of the rent?
How can I terminate the lease and evict the tenant?
What is considered other good cause?
How do I evict a tenant?
Does the housing authority help me with eviction?
Will I continue to receive housing assistance payments through the eviction process?
What if the tenant vacates the unit in violation of the lease?
What are you looking for?
Do you do a lead paint inspection?
Only a few items Failed- Does that mean we Passed?
The apartment is up to Code. It should pass no problem. Right?
Do you inspect all the apartments in the building?
My neighbor’s apartment has some problems. Will you report those too?
The HQS inspection is done. What’s the next step?
This building has been here a long time. Does that mean everything in all the apartments is grandfathered?
What if the tenant broke that window or put that hole in the wall?
How long do I have to fix these things?
The Fail items have been repaired. What happens now?
How does the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program work?
Why are units required to pass an inspection?
What is the cost to participate in the HCV Program?
How can I get on the Program waiting list?
What is a “Lottery System”?
How many applicants will be selected after the lottery is completed?
How long will the lottery process take?
What should I do if I need to change my address while on the waiting list?
Do you have to have children to apply for the HCV Program?
If I currently live in public housing, can I still apply?
I am currently on the waiting list for another program, can I still apply?
If I don’t have any income, can I still apply for assistance?
How long will it take for me to receive a Housing Choice Voucher?
Are there other affordable housing options?

Who participates in the Housing Choice Voucher Program?


The HCV program assists low-income households. Families are selected from a waiting list and are determined eligible according to income limits and eligibility requirements established by Housing and Urban Development. A participating household may choose to remain in the unit they are currently living in or move to a unit anywhere in the city of Rockford.

How is rental assistance provided?


The housing authority calculates the amount of assistance each family will receive. The level of assistance is based upon family size, income, and current reasonable market rates. A household is expected to pay 30% to 40% of their adjusted income toward rent and utilities. The difference in the contract rent and tenant rent will be directly deposited each month into the landlords checking/savings account. (see attached calculation formula examples)

What are the terms of the Lease?


A written lease is required. The first initial term will be for one year according to housing authority policy and the renewal terms can be monthly, yearly, every 6 months, etc… this must be stated in the original lease if not renewed on a yearly basis

How much may a landlord charge for a security deposit?


The landlord is allowed to charge a security deposit similar to what is charged to other market tenants – the housing authority does not assist with security deposits

What if the tenant does not pay their portion of the rent?

Contact the tenant regarding why they are not paying their portion, if no results serve client with a 5-day notice to vacate and file for eviction.

How can I terminate the lease and evict the tenant?

      1. An owner may terminate a lease for the following reasons
      2. Serious or repeated violation of the lease
      3. Violation of Federal, State, or local law that imposes obligations on the tenant in connection with the occupancy or use of the premises
      4. Drug or criminal activity

    1. Other good cause

What is considered other good cause?

During the initial term of the lease, an owner can evict the tenant for good cause such as history of disturbing neighbors, destroying property, or damaging a unit or property.

Other good cause after the first year of the lease includes:

      1. Business or economic reason for regaining possession of the unit
      2. Owner’s desire to repossess the unit for personal use

    1. Tenant’s refusal to accept an offer of new lease

How do I evict a tenant?

An owner may evict a tenant only by a court action in accordance with state and local law. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney if you are not familiar with the eviction process.

The owner must provide the tenant with a written notice specifying the grounds for termination of tenancy, at or before the beginning of the eviction action. The notice may be included in, or may be combined with anyowner eviction notice to the tenant. The owner must also provide the housing authority with a copy of the eviction notice and all other legal documents served to the tenant. You must also notify the housing authority occupancy specialist immediately of the Sheriff’s lockout date or the date the tenant vacates.

Does the housing authority help me with eviction?

No. The housing authority does not assist owners with evictions. The lease is between you and the tenant.

Will I continue to receive housing assistance payments through the eviction process?

Yes, as long as the housing authority has not already terminated the family from the program and you are in compliance with the housing assistance payment contract. Payments will continue through the date of the Sheriff’s lockout or the date the family vacates the unit, whichever comes first.

What if the tenant vacates the unit in violation of the lease?

Housing payments will stop and the landlord may retain the security deposit for the amount of unpaid rent and any damages caused to the unit.

What are you looking for?

The HQS Inspector will want to look through each room of the entire apartment including the basement, common rooms (like laundry rooms) and any areas which are associated with the apartment such as entry halls. He/she will be evaluating the apartment using the national HQS protocol (HQS standards) and also in some cases local or state requirements which are more stringent than HQS. There are many things to evaluate. In a nutshell, the HQS Inspector will want to determine whether or not required items are present in the apartment, that every item present in the apartment works and that the apartment is ‘safe, sanitary and decent’.

Do you do a lead paint inspection?

The HQS Inspector will not do a lead paint inspection (an inspection to determine if lead paint is present on any painted surface) of the apartment. He/she is not permitted to do that sort of inspection. For the purposes of HQS Inspection, the Inspector will assume that all painted surfaces contain lead-based paint. The HQS Inspector WILL DO a Visual Assessment of all painted surfaces IF there is a child under 6 or a pregnant woman living in or expected to live in the apartment and if the building was built before 1978. The lead paint policies of HUD and the Housing Authority are intended to be Proactive about the possible presence of lead paint hazards in any subsidized living unit. Each Housing Authority wants to head off the serious problems of lead paint exposure at the pass, and one way to do that is to require that ALL painted surfaces be STABILIZED- in apartments that were built in 1978 or before in which a pregnant woman or a child under 6 is living or expected to live- in these cases, in a nutshell, there should be NO DETERIORATED PAINT in the interior of the apartment or on the exterior of the building.

Only a few items Failed – Does that mean we Passed?


No. In an HQS Inspection any one or more deficiencies that fail will fail the entire inspection.

The apartment is up to Code. It should pass no problem. Right?

An HQS Inspection is not a ‘Code’ inspection. There are many types of Codes, Ordinances Laws and Protocols that apply to housing units in your local area such as Building Codes, Housing Ordinances, State Fire Codes and so forth. As a rule, the HQS Inspection follows the HQS Protocol that you will find on the HUD checklist on Form 52580. The HQS protocol is the same across the United States. HQS does allow for State and local code requirements which are more stringent than HQS, for example-State Fire Codes regarding Smoke Detectors and 2nd Means of Egress. In these cases, the HQS Inspector will enforce the more stringent requirements.

Do you inspect all the apartments in the building?

No. The HQS Inspector will inspect the apartment subsidized under the HCV Program only. That inspection will not include the other apartments in the building. It will include common areas, basements and exterior areas which would be used by the tenants of the subsidized apartment and utility areas.\

My neighbor’s apartment has some problems. Will you report those too?

As a rule, No. While problems in the neighboring apartments might be important, the HQS Inspector is concerned with the condition of the subsidized apartment.

‘This apartment is Section 8 approved’ (We had an HQS inspection for another tenant sometime before) OR ‘This is a brand new   building’. Do you still need to come and do an inspection?

A new HQS Inspection is required in both cases. The HQS Inspection requirement always applies even if the apartment has been inspected in the past or if the building is new.

The HQS inspection is done. What’s the next step?


The HQS inspection report will be given to the appropriate Housing Authority. The landlord will receive notice of any and all deficiencies (Fail items) including the time allotted for repairs to be completed by the Housing Authority. Often the HQS Inspection is the last step in the rent-up process. Both tenant and landlord should check with the appropriate person at the Housing Authority before proceeding. Different Housing Authorities have different policies and procedures regarding rent-up. It is important for all parties to follow the procedures correctly.

This building has been here a long time. Does that mean everything in all the apartments is grandfathered?

No. There is no ‘grandfathering’ provision in HQS. Apartments in older buildings will be evaluated according to HQS just like any other building

What if the tenant broke that window or put that hole in the wall?

The Landlord and the tenant enter into a lease which is binding on both parties just like any lease. If damage to the apartment occurs, it should be handled according to the provisions in the lease. The Landlord is not penalized by the Housing Authority for tenant damage, but all damages need to be appropriately corrected. For example, the HQS Inspector will fail a broken window regardless of who broke it. If the window was broken by the tenant, it is normally up to the Landlord and the tenant to work out a way to get the window fixed within the allotted time and that is normally done according to the provisions in the lease.

How long do I have to fix these things?


Each Housing Authority has specific policies regarding completing repairs after an HQS Inspection. Life threatening items such as malfunctioning smoke detectors usually must be repaired within 24 hours. Standard deficiencies such as a burner on a stove that does not operate usually must be repaired within 30 days. It is a good idea to check with the Housing Authority regarding their specific policy.

The Fail items have been repaired. What happens now?

The Housing Authority will either require a physical ‘re-check’ of the apartment or require Landlord certification that the work has been completed. When a physical re-check is done, only the items which failed the inspection are checked. The HQS Inspector will check the failed items from the failed inspection. He/she will not conduct a complete new inspection.

How does the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program work?

Families who meet the eligibility requirements are issued a voucher. In the Housing Choice Voucher Program, participants have a limited time to find suitable housing offered by a private owner. The rent to the owner will be subsidized using a voucher issued by the Housing Authority (HA). Any housing selected must meet local codes and federal standards call Housing Quality Standards (HQS). A family will not pay more than 40% of their adjusted income in rent. All voucher units must meet a rent reasonable test, i.e., the rents cannot be higher than similar units in the area. In the HCV Program, families pay their share of the rent directly to the property owner or manager and the HA will pay the remainder.

Why are units required to pass an inspection?

All units must pass HQS inspections to make sure they meet a minimum set of health and safety requirements established by the federal government. The inspection process is based on the premise that government funds should not subsidize substandard housing and that all families regardless of their income have a right to live in housing that is safe, decent and sanitary.

What is the cost to participate in the HCV Program?


There is no cost. The HCV Program is a government provided free of charge program. It is illegal for anyone to charge applicants, voucher holders or participants for ANY services provided by the HCV Program, including obtaining a voucher, applying to the Program or being placed on the waiting list. If someone attempts to sell you a voucher, application or place on the waiting list, notify RHA immediately by contacting the RHA’s Hotline at 815-489-8549.

How can I get on the Program waiting list?

At this time the waiting list is closed and RHA has not determined when it will re-open. Public notice will be given when the waiting list re-opens.

What is a “Lottery System”?


The “lottery System” is used to assign an order in which applicants are processed when multiple applications are received with the same application date (when taking on-line applications). The lottery system is not based on date and time of application, therefore, applicants can apply anytime during the open application period and the order of applicants on the final waiting list will be in random order through a lottery.

How many applicants will be selected after the lottery is completed?


Once all applications are received and the list is closed, a computerized system will randomly and anonymously rank all applicants. When the applicants are ranked they will be placed in a numerical order. At that time the top 5,000 applicants will be added to the HCV waiting list. The remaining applicants with numbers greater than 5,000 will be notified that they did not make the HCV waiting list and they will have to apply the next time the waiting list is open. The selected 5,000 applicants can call our automated system to get their numerical ranking on the waiting list.

How long will the lottery process take?

It will take approximately 6-8 weeks for us to process the lottery and notify all applicants that did not make the HCV waiting list.

What should I do if I need to change my address while on the waiting list?



All address changes must be submitted in writing to our office located at 223 S. Winnebago Street, Rockford, IL 61102. No address changes will be processed by telephone.

Do you have to have children to apply for the HCV Program?


No. Applicants are not required to have children in order to be admitted to the program.

If I currently live in public housing, can I still apply?


Yes, you can apply for the HCV Program and currently live in public housing.

I am currently on the waiting list for another program, can I still apply?


Yes, an applicant may apply for any program that has an open waitlist.

If I don’t have any income, can I still apply for assistance?


Yes.

How long will it take for me to receive a Housing Choice Voucher?

The amount of time it takes to receive a voucher varies based upon funding and available vouchers.

Are there other affordable housing options?

Project-based assistance is another option. Project-based assistance is different in that you must live in a specific location in order to receive help in paying your rent. Initially you must live in the designated location to receive rental assistance, but after one year of occupancy, you may be eligible to receive a tenant-based voucher if funding is available.

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