FAQ

1. How do I qualify for assistance?

All rental and homeowner programs administered by the Oshkosh / Winnebago County Housing Authority (HA) are offered to qualified households who fall within target income limits. Income limits for rental housing administered by the HA and for the Housing Choice Voucher Program can be found online on the Income Limits Page.

Because program eligibility differs depending upon the specific program, please visit the web page of the program you are interested in to learn more about specific eligibility criteria, including the following pages: Rent From Us; Housing Choice Voucher Program; and the Winnebago Homebuyer Program.

2. Where are the rental housing buildings located?

Housing options are available throughout Winnebago County, including the communities of Oshkosh, Neenah, Menasha, Omro, and Winneconne. For more details on our affordable housing options, visit the our Rental Housing Page.

The Housing Choice Voucher program provides you with the "choice" of where you live by enabling you to find your own unit in the private rental market.

3. How long does it take to get into a rental housing program?

The wait for housing varies, depending on the size of your family and the length of the waiting list for the programs you have selected.

For affordable housing programs administered by the Housing Authority, the length of time from application to being housed is anywhere from six (6) weeks to over one (1) year. For the Housing Choice Voucher program, the waiting list is significant, with estimated wait times exceeding 2 years.

Because the Housing Authority (HA) administers a local preference to applicants who live or work within Winnebago County, WI, households applying from outside of the county should expect longer wait periods.

In general, don't wait until a crisis occurs to apply. The sooner you apply, the sooner the Housing Authority can begin processing your application for eligibility.

Keep in mind that this wait period is for selection from the waitlist, and does not mean you will be offered a unit after this wait. When your name comes to the top of the waitlist, the HA will schedule you for a meeting to sign the necessary forms and collect your income, asset, and household documentation. The HA will then proceed with verifications and eligibility screening, which can last from two (2) to six (6) weeks. Carefully reading your intake meeting letter, and gathering all of the needed documentation for this appointment, will help speed up your application processing.

4. Can I have a pet in my unit?

Most programs administered by the Housing Authority allow certain pets with defined restrictions and deposit requirements. All programs require written approval prior to housing of a pet, and all programs require the pet owner to maintain a clean, safe and sanitary condition.

For dogs and cats, all rental units administered by the Housing Authority require a municipal / county pet license, current rabies and distemper shot records, and proof of spaying / neutering.

For Housing Choice Voucher program residents, pet policies are determined by the landlord / property owner and should be detailed in your lease.

In all programs, violation of pet policies can result in warnings, fines, and eviction.

5. What if I have special needs?

Please notify our agency if you need assistance of any kind to access our services, and let us know if you need special features in your housing (for example, we can often provide large print materials, wheelchair accessibility, customized interviews, and other housing accommodations).

If you need an interpreter or translator, please notify our agency and appropriate services will be provided. We will make every reasonable effort to accommodate your needs. For additional information, please contact our agency at 920.424.1450.

Our rental housing programming features many units with accessible design features, including 1-3 bedroom units with single story access to bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry connection. Our apartment complexes all feature accessible accommodations to help meet the needs of the elderly and individuals with mobility limitations.

For those interested in homeownership, the Winnebago Homebuyer Program launched an exciting new Accessible Homes Initiative in 2015 to construct new homes within the city of Oshkosh that meet Universal Design Standards. Visit the Accessible Homes Webpage for more information.

6. Do you have emergency housing?

The Housing Authority does not provide emergency housing, and all programs have eligibility criteria.

Visit the Homeless Resources Page if your household is facing homelessness. For 1-time rental or utility assistance in the Oshkosh area, contact the Advocap Bridges program at 920.426.1450. In the Neenah/Menasha area, contact LEAVEN at 920.738.9635.

7. I'm homeless and need help. Do you operate any homeless programs?

Our agency provides safe, affordable housing to qualified families and individuals. We do not operate a homeless program, although homeless families and individuals are encouraged to apply for our housing assistance programs. These programs do not provide emergency housing, but may be an important part of the transition from homelessness to housing security. Visit the Homeless Resources Page if your household is facing homelessness.

8. I am interested in purchasing a home. Can the Housing Authority help?

Yes. The Housing Authority operates the Winnebago Home Buyer Program. This program helps qualified applicants with homebuyer training, financial management, and financial assistance.

9. How do I report changes to my household?

All changes to your application should be reported to the Housing Authority in writing within 7 calendar days of the change. Written notice includes hand-written or typed letters and can be submitted the following ways:
- Notice dropped off at the 600 Merritt Avenue, Oshkosh office location;
- Notice mailed to Oshkosh / Winnebago County Housing Authority, PO Box 0397, Oshkosh, WI 54903;
- Hand-written and typed notice faxed to 920.424.1474;

For questions regarding additional notification options, contact 920.424.1450.

You must include the head of household name with date of birth and/or last four numbers of the head of household social security number on the notice, and include a current mailing address and telephone number.

10. May I add or remove others from my application?

You may add or remove people from your application by submitting the change in writing to the Oshkosh / Winnebago County Housing Authority, including full name, date of birth, social security number, income and asset sources, phone number, and dwelling address.

Adding or removing people may affect your eligibility for some programs. If the change affects your eligibility for a unit of a certain size, you will be moved to the appropriate unit size waiting list. Your application date will remain the original application receipt date. You may not receive a notice of the wailing list change.

Adults being added to an application or household will be required to complete program documentation, including the possibility of attending a meeting to provide needed documentation and to complete forms.

As a reminder, both the Housing Choice Voucher Program and rental programs administered directly by the Housing Authority require that all household members first be approved by our agency. The housing of unauthorized guests is not permitted, and can result in fines, eviction, and legal action against your household.

11. What size of a unit would I qualify for?

Rental assistance recipients are required to follow certain occupancy standards that limit the number of residents according to the number of bedrooms. The following is a basic guide, with exceptions cited below:
- 1 adult: 1 BR
- 2 people: 1-2 BR
- 3 people: 2-3 BR
- 4 people: 2-4 BR
- 5 people: 3-5 BR
- 6 people: 3-5 BR
- 7 or 8 people: 4-5 BR

The head of household and spouse or partner shall be entitled to one bedroom. Household members under age 18 who are the same gender shall share a bedroom. Household members under age 7 of any gender can share a bedroom. For the HCV program, household members under the age of 6 of any gender can share a bedroom.

12. Can I have bedrooms for my children even if I don't have them full-time?

The size of a unit is based upon household members who are present in the household at least 50.1% of the time. You may be authorized to house additional children as approved and scheduled guests based on custody arrangements and other situations. This would not increase the number of bedrooms your household is provided.

13. How do I cancel my application?

You can cancel your application at any time by submitting a written statement to our agency. If you are scheduled for an in-take appointment and do not plan on attending, please notify our agency so that this appointment time may be offered to another applicant.

It is important for you to notify the HA in writing if you wish to cancel consideration for one specific program if you wish to continue being considered for another program. For example, if you initially applied for public housing and the Housing Choice Voucher, and now just want to be considered for the voucher program, you should submit a written statement requesting to be removed from the public housing waitlist.

14. Can the Housing Authority deny assistance?

Yes. Even if you can prove that you need housing, our agency is required by federal law and agency regulations to refuse assistance if you do not qualify.

To determine if you meet the financial eligibility requirements, see our Income Eligibility Guidelines.

To review general eligibility guidelines for our affordable housing programs managed by our agency, visit the Rent From Us webpage for any of the programs you are interested in. In general, our affordable housing programs are available to income-eligible families and individuals with U.S. citizenship or an eligible immigration status. Application screening includes checks on recent rental and housing history, utility payment history, criminal and drug offender records, existing financial obligations to other Housing Authorities, and other checks determined to be relevant and appropriate.

For general Housing Choice Voucher eligibility guidelines, visit the Housing Choice Voucher Home Page.

15. Does the Housing Authority verify personal information?

Yes. Throughout the application process the Housing Authority may verify all sources of income and assets, credit records, criminal history, residence history, and other important and necessary information. The Housing Authority will not share your personal information with other unauthorized individuals or agencies.

16. Do you provide renter training?

The Housing Authority works with residents as necessary to develop positive relationships with the families and individuals served. We are constantly seeking out ways to help ensure successful renting practices of tenants, including tenant education, home management training, and community referrals.

The Housing Authority has partnered with UW Extension in our community to provide a free Rent Smart Training Course. Rent Smart provides practical education to help people looking for rental housing to find, get, and keep suitable housing, covering the following topics: Tenant and Landlord Rights and Responsibilities; Things to think about when looking for a place to live; How to read a lease – know what you are signing; How to complete a rental inspection and a check-in/check-out form; and Strategies to get your security deposit back at the end of your lease.

17. What will I have to pay for rent?

Rent is generally based upon 30% of your gross adjusted monthly income. To learn more about rent calculations, read through the Rent Calculation Guide (coming March 2016).

18. Are utilities included in my rent?

Utility requirements vary by program. For specific information, review the program information on the Affordable Housing Page and the Housing Choice Voucher Page. If your utilities are not included in your rent, you may receive a rent adjustment to assist you in meeting your financial obligations.

19. How do I check the status of my application or my place on the waiting list?

You will receive written notices from the Housing Authority when the following occur:
- When you are scheduled for an intake appointment;
- If additional information is needed or if an application is incomplete;
- If you are eligible or ineligible;
- If you are being offered a unit;
- If you are scheduled for an apartment showing;
- If you are scheduled for a lease signing appointment.

The Housing Authority encourages applicants to wait until they receive a written notice detailing the current status of their application. Contacting our agency to determine application status will not speed up the processing of your application. In addition, staff will generally be unable to provide additional information.

20. What happens if my income and family status changes when receiving rental assistance?

Whenever your income changes or you have a change in family composition (persons moving in or out of your household) you are required to report the change to the Housing Authority in writing within 7 calendar days of the change. The Housing Authority will determine if and when a change in rent is required.

21. How old must I be to move into senior housing?

In general, applicants must meet any applicable income limits and other applicant screening criteria. Applicants may qualify for senior housing if they meet one of the following household compositions:
(1) a single person at least 62 years of age,
(2) a couple of which one must be at least 62 years of age, or
(3) a handicapped or disabled adult as defined by the Social Security Act.

The term family (couple) also includes two unrelated elderly, disabled or handicapped individuals living together, or one such individual living together with another person who is essential to their care or well-being.

22. Can I submit an application if I'm under 18 years of age?

In general, the head of household needs to be 18 years of age to submit an application. Emancipated individuals with proper documentation will also be considered for housing assistance.

23. Do I have to sign a lease agreement?

Yes. All programs have lease requirements. The Housing Choice Voucher Program lease is provided by the landlord.

24. Does my unit have to be inspected if I begin receiving rental assistance?

Yes. Units are inspected at least once every year. Inspections generally focus on structural defects, appliances, plumbing, and overall appearance. In addition, inspectors check to ensure that tenants are maintaining a clean, safe, and sanitary living condition. In certain programs, additional inspections may be determined appropriate based upon the conditions of your household.

25. What happens if I need unit repairs?

Housing Choice Voucher Program - You should notify your landlord immediately if your unit is in need of a repair. If violations are found at the time of an inspection, notices will be sent to you and the landlord providing 30 days to correct the cited issue. A re-inspection will then occur.

Affordable Housing programs managed by the Housing Authority - You should notify your property manager of all repair needs. Repair requests can be submitted in writing or by telephone. The Housing Authority also provides a 24 hour maintenance service available for late-hour and weekend emergencies.

26. What if I want to move out of my unit?

Housing Choice Voucher program - Before you can move out of your unit, you must fulfill your tenant obligations under your current lease. This includes providing your landlord with proper written notice. You must also notify the Housing Authority. For more information on moving with your voucher, visit the Housing Choice Voucher webpage.

Affordable Housing programs managed by the Housing Authority - You must provide the property manager with a written notice stating your intention to vacate the unit. Vacate notice requirements vary by program, but generally you would need to provide either a 30 or 60 day notice depending upon the program. The effective date of the notice may be the first of the following month.

27. What if I'm in the Housing Choice Voucher program and the owner wants me to move?

The tenant or landlord must provide a copy of the written notice to the Housing Authority. If the tenant is in good standing and has been receiving assistance for more than one year, the Housing Authority can assist with a new unit. The tenant needs to meet with Housing Authority staff to update income, asset and other household information. The tenant will also be given a packet of paperwork for the new landlord to complete. When this packet is returned, an inspection of the new unit can be scheduled. If the tenant is not in good standing, the file will be closed.

28. How long do I have to use a voucher once I am issued one (Housing Choice Voucher program)?

Once a voucher is issued, a participant has 60 days to find a suitable apartment before the voucher expires. However, under certain situations, the 60-day period can be extended. For more information, visit the Housing Choice Voucher Page.

29. Does the Housing Choice Voucher program pay the rental assistance to me?

The Housing Authority pays your rental assistance to the landlord by the 3rd of each month. You must also pay your share of the rent each month directly to the landlord. Failure to pay your rent as required by your lease agreement can lead to termination of your rental assistance.

30. I have a landlord that is willing to rent to me under the HCV program. Can I get a voucher immediately?

No, unless you have already been determined eligible by our program and have been issued a voucher. The Housing Authority is required to provide assistance to families from the waiting list according to our application procedures. If you would like to receive assistance, please complete the ONLINE APPLICATION.

31. What is the Family Self Sufficiency Program?

Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) is a program that works with interested Housing Choice Voucher families and Winnebago County Family Housing Program families to assist with employment goals, money management skills, education interests, home ownership planning, and more.

For participants, a significant benefit of participation in FSS is asset accumulation through the FSS escrow account. As a family's income earnings increase, the Housing Authority deposits the increased rental charges that a family pays into an escrow account. Escrow funds may be used to pay for college or vocational training and education, for work-related expenses such as work clothing, tools, and car repairs, for homeownership, or other goals.

Additional benefits for FSS participants may include career and professional development and advancement, significantly improved connections to community resources and assistance, increased self-esteem, new educational and learning experiences, and homeownership knowledge and skills. For more information, visit the FSS Page.

32. Can I pick out which unit I want to rent from the Housing Authority?

Affordable Housing programs managed by the Housing Authority - eligible applicants who have been approved and have come to the top of the approval list will be offered the first vacant unit that meets their family size requirements. Applicants can turn down up to 1 unit in a program and still be considered eligible for a unit. If an applicant turns down a 2nd unit in a program, they will no longer be considered eligible for that program.

Housing Choice Voucher Program - The housing choice voucher program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. An eligible family is advised of the unit size for which it is eligible based on family size and composition. The housing unit selected by the family must meet an acceptable level of health and safety and be within the price guidelines before the PHA can approve the unit. When the voucher holder finds a unit that it wishes to occupy and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the PHA must inspect the dwelling and certify the rent requested is reasonable.