Back to Home
Helping Virginians Attain Quality, Affordable Housing
Follow Us LinkedIn Facebook YouTube RSS Feed Twitter Virginia Housing Blog Instagram
Text Size: A- A  A+ | Text Only | Print Print

How Does the Housing Choice Voucher Program Work?

How It Works

There are a variety of reasons why landlords and property owners participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. One of the most common is the desire to help their communities. But regardless of why they participate, landlords receive real financial benefits:

  • Up to 70% of the rent is guaranteed.
  • Rental property is leased that otherwise might be vacant.
  • Initial and annual inspections to ensure the property is maintained in accordance to HUD’s housing quality standards protect the landlord’s investment.
  • Landlords retain all of their rights as property owners. Neither VHDA nor the local housing agency selects the residents or interferes in a landlord’s selection process as long as there is no discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, handicap or familial status.

How Vouchers are Provided

Step 1: Establishing Fair Market Rents

  1. Neither VHDA nor our agency partners establish these rates. Fair Market Rates (FMR) are published each year by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  2. FMRs establish rent based on number of bedrooms and are designed to protect both landlords and families.
  3. The HCV program uses FMRs to set voucher payment standards between 90% and 110% of the published FMRs.
  4. VHDA’s payment standards are set at 110% of the area FMR.

Step 2: Determining whether a family qualifies for the program

  • Applicant household income must not exceed the income limit established by HUD for the locality in which they will be initially assisted.
  • HUD publishes the income limits annually.

Step 3: Finding a home they’d like to live in

  • The HCV program is about choice!
  • Neither VHDA nor our agency partners tell families with vouchers where they have to live.

Step 4: Making a match between landlord and tenants

  • An inspection of the property ensures voucher holders will live in a safe, quality environment.
  • Participating landlords are strongly encouraged by VHDA and our agency partners to go through the same qualification and screening processes they would for non-voucher holder families.
  • Lease agreements are signed.
  • Landlords may use their own lease agreement.

Step 5: Paying the rent

  • Rent is paid by VHDA and the families who hold vouchers.
  • The program pays the difference between the voucher payment standard and 30% of the participant’s monthly adjusted income (MAI) towards rent and utilities.
  • The participating family pays the difference between the rent and the amount subsidized, not to exceed 40% of their MAI at initial lease-up. 
  • Rent must be considered reasonable when compared to other similar unassisted units.
  • Utility allowances are used to estimate the cost of tenant-paid utilities and vary based upon the type of housing selected.

Contact Us

Sharon Fairburn

Housing Choice Voucher Program Director

Customer Service

Toll Free: 877-VHDA-123
Local: 804-782-1986


Virginia Relay

In Virginia: 711
Toll Free: 800-828-1140


Virginia Housing Fraud, Waste or Abuse Hotline

Phone: 804-915-3146
Website: Reporting Fraud, Waste or Abuse