A quality home is the foundation
of society & community

A quality home is the foundation of society & community

Demand Goes Up, Supply Goes Down: “Enter, The HCV Rent Subsidy”

A NOTE TO THE READER: The following is the fifth of a Five Part Op-Edit Series
to educate, inform, understand, and empower the reader on
the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV), commonly referred to as Section 8.

The number of renters in America saw a boost in rates all across the nation. From suburbs to cities, to our own community. Today, in the Rockford community, the landlord real estate sector has an array of free-standing homes, duplexes, mobile homes, and apartments.

Housing in all of its variations has become a constant concern for some in our community which they can no longer afford. Renters who can’t afford to pay rent increases, also may find they can’t afford to move due to the additional costs of moving expenses, and the need for the first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a robust security deposit. These challenges become even far more amplified to the many in our community who are among the working poor and very low income. This article will once again focus on the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private marketplace in the Rockford Community.

Private market rate rental housing, accounts, for the vast majority of housing options in the Rockford community. Rightly so, community Landlords price the value market rate for their rental housing stock, at the current fair market rate.

For some voucher recipients, there are distinct advantages to finding your own apartment or separate rental home or duplex in the community. As contained in the last Op-ed, fourth in this series, “Home Ownership” can also be part of the program decision mix as well. With this final article, we will investigate and examine the challenges for the working poor and very low-income residents in our community that need housing and how the Housing Choice Voucher program addresses the issue of quality affordable housing.

Demand Goes up, Supply Goes Down

When choosing between a rental home versus an apartment, each person may ask themselves questions such as, “which is right for my family and myself? What can I afford? Will I have enough money? Can I maintain a rental home? For example, a family of four living below the poverty line, with a family income of less than $46,000 annually, represents one in every three people in Rockford. This may be your relative, someone you know, a friend, or even you. This can be anyone who is employed and earns an income that cannot support themselves. The poverty line is classified as the ‘working poor.’ Working poverty has increased dramatically. The pandemic had made it even more acute, as low-income renters were put out of work and at risk of eviction.

Over 23 % of Rockford residents have an income below the poverty level which is almost 52% greater than the poverty level across the entire state of Illinois.

Living in poverty for an extended length of time can have adverse effects. Living below the poverty line brings job stress, mental health issues, social stigma, and barriers to appropriate health treatment are just some of the challenges, folks encounter, who are living and working in our community. Regrettably, in our community, women, are more likely than men to be among the working poor. You will find the working poor employed in service occupations. Cooks, waitresses, hairdressers, childcare workers, nursing aids, receptionists, janitors, and many others with low earning rates generally do not offer much opportunity for advancement and may not be as rewarding as other types of occupations often held by the middle class in Rockford. A popular social construct within social culture is that with hard work and self-discipline, one can achieve financial security. This notion inherently preserves the ideal that not being able to make a living wage comes down to individual shortcomings rather than structural and systemic factors. This individualistic and idiosyncratic value leads to public perception toward the very low income to include traits such as uneducated or unwilling. These puritanical undercurrents can also be a continuous challenge in the workplace as well.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program

The reality and obstacles of the Program are one of ‘fundamental supply and demand.’ The demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD. Housing agencies, therefore, like the Rockford Housing Authority, can experience long waiting periods. In fact, a Public Housing Authority may close its waiting list when it has more families on the list than can be assisted in the near future.

On the surface, The HCV program is intricate, but fundamentally the program works like this: an “eligible household,” meaning you and your family, who are making 30% or less of the area median income (AMI), though households making up to 80% of AMI can be eligible, applies for a voucher to your local Public Housing Authority, which in this case is the Rockford Housing Authority. If your application is accepted, you are responsible for finding a landlord in the community that accepts your voucher.  The voucher you have been issued is good for 60 days. Once you find a unit with a landlord willing to participate, the RHA staff will visit the property to ensure it meets health and safety standards and that the rent charged falls under the “payment standard.” If the property is deemed suitable, you and your family can move into your new home. You are responsible for paying a portion of the rent, which is typically, 30% of your adjusted gross income, with the Rockford Housing Authority supplementing the remainder of the rent. 

The Infographic above will provide an entry level understanding the Fair Market in Rockford. FMRs regularly published by HUD, represent the cost to rent a moderately-priced dwelling unit in the Greater Rockford Area. The RHA Housing voucher tenant must pay 30 percent of their monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities, and if the unit rent is greater than the payment standard, the tenant is required to pay the additional amount.

Your family’s housing needs may change over time for many reasons. Changes in your family size, or job location. The Housing Choice Voucher program is designed to allow your family to move without the loss of housing assistance. Under the Voucher Program, you may choose a unit anywhere in the United States, which we explored “The Value of Portability,” in the Op-ed Two, in this Series, which we encourage you to explore. So, your move can be anywhere in our community, or another destination, which is permissible so long as you notify RHA ahead of time. Since your Housing Choice Voucher is attached to your household rather than the home you are renting, you can move to another unit with your voucher. You can locate housing of your choice, including single-family homes, townhouses, apartments, and mobile homes. As you may possibly guess, your new landlord must also be willing to participate in the HCV program. Once again for your protection, the new unit you desire, must be inspected by RHA, to meet HUD’s quality standards.

Closing thoughts

As you can see the private market landlords are essential partners for successfully housing low-income families through the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program in the Rockford community. We encourage you the reader to learn more about the HCV Program. Over the five Op-ed articles we were able to highlight some of the salient points of the program. For your convenience we have included link to resources that will provide you with additional insight.

The Rockford Housing Authority’s ongoing mission is that a quality home life provides hope and the pathway to goals. Responsible and respectful people deserve the opportunity to contribute to attaining a comfortable quality home and a neighborhood all can have pride in—a place to call home.


The RHA Leadership Team


The Rockford Housing Authority HCV Landing Page:


Problems Facing the Working Poor: Implications for Counseling, Tristan D. McBain, Western Michigan University: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/hilltopreview/vol10/iss2/4/#:~:text=Labor%20market%20issues%2C%20job%20stress,problems%20facing%20this%20disadvantaged%20population

The percent of the Fair Market Rents (FMRs). FMRs regularly published by HUD: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/fmr/fmrs/FY2023_code/2023summary.odn

NOTE TO READERS: The U.S. Census Bureau provides the data and publishes estimates on income and poverty in this article. To Learn More, download the complete PDF “Poverty in the United States: 2021” at RHA Links & Resources: 


The Census Bureau assigns each person or family one out of 48 possible poverty thresholds. Thresholds vary by the family size and the members’ age. The same thresholds are used throughout the United States (they do not vary geographically).


Read more: http://www.city-data.com/poverty/poverty-Rockford-Illinois.html

*Healthy People 2030 sets data-driven national objectives to improve health and well-being over the next decade.