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Housing vouchers - how they function?

The housing choice voucher program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. A very low-income family is selected from the waiting list to meet with a Housing Specialist to determine if they are eligible to participate in the program.  Once determined a family is determined eligible to receive a voucher then an invitation is mailed to the applicant to attend a briefing on how to use the voucher.  Applicants are encouraged to consider several housing choices to secure the best housing for their family needs. A housing voucher holder is advised of the unit size and target rent for which it is eligible based on family size and composition.  Click here for Moving to Work program suggested target rents.
The housing unit selected by the family must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before LHA can approve the unit.  Click here for the Inspection guidelines. When the voucher holder finds a unit that it wishes to occupy and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, LHA must inspect the dwelling and determine that the rent requested is reasonable.

LHA determines a payment standard that is the amount generally needed to rent a moderately-priced dwelling unit in the local housing market and that is used to calculate the amount of housing assistance a family will receive. However the payment standard does not limit and does not affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family may pay. A family which receives a housing voucher can select a unit with a rent that is below or above the payment standard.  Click here for payment standard chart. The housing voucher family must pay between 27-30% of its monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities, and if the unit rent is greater than the payment standard the family is required to pay the additional amount. By law for the Mainstream and Veteran’s vouchers, whenever a family moves to a new unit where the rent exceeds the payment standard, the family may not pay more than 40 percent of its adjusted monthly income for rent.