Housing Choice Voucher

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly referred to as the "Section 8 Program" , enables low-income families in Winnebago County, WI to rent safe housing that is affordable in the private market through funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. By enrolling in the program you will receive a voucher that allows a portion of your rent to be paid directly to the property manager or property owner by the Housing Authority.

The Housing Authority accepts applications for the Housing Choice Voucher Program on an ongoing basis, with applicants selected through a lottery. In general, applicants with a local preference should expect to wait six to twenty-four months before processing for eligibility. Households with more immediate housing needs are encouraged to apply for Housing Authority Rental Programs.

1. What Are Housing Choice Vouchers:

The housing choice voucher program (HCV) is the federal government's program for assisting low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. HCVs are administered throughout Winnebago County by the Oshkosh / Winnebago County Housing Authority (HA).

Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program. This unit may include the family's present residence. Rental units must be inspected and meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the HA.

The HA receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program. A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family's choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. The HA may also have a current list of approved units. A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the HA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. Under certain circumstances, if authorized by the HA, a family may use its voucher to purchase a modest home.

2. Am I Eligible:

Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the HA based on income, family size, and past behavior in subsidized housing, and is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status.

In general, the family's income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. By law, a HA must provide 75 percent of its voucher to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30 percent of the area median income.

During the application process, the HA will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. The HA will verify this information with other local agencies, your employer and bank, and will use the information to determine program eligibility and the amount of the housing assistance payment If the HA determines that your family is eligible, the HA will put your name on a waiting list, unless it is able to assist you immediately.

3. How Do I Apply:

Households interested in applying can complete the ONLINE APPLICATION. Applicants will need to prepare the following information for each household member (this is not a comprehensive list):
- Full name, date of birth, and social security number,
- Bank accounts and asset information for all household assets,
- Wage information for all household employment,
- Income and benefits information for all household income.

4. How Housing Choice Vouchers 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 by the HA to participate and 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 before the HA 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 HA must inspect the dwelling and certify the rent requested is reasonable.

The HA 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. The housing voucher family must pay 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, 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. Once a HA approves an eligible family's housing unit, the family and the landlord sign a lease and, at the same time, the landlord and the HA sign a housing assistance payments contract that runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone -- tenant, landlord and HA -- has obligations and responsibilities under the voucher program.

5. Tenant Obligations:

When a family selects a housing unit and the HA approves the unit and lease, the family signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. After the first year, the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease.

The family is expected to comply with the lease and with the requirements established by the housing choice voucher program. The family must also pay its share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition and notify the HA of any changes in income or family composition.

Potential tenants are strongly encouraged to complete the free, tenant education program Rent Smart, which provides comprehensive training to help create successful renting experiences that avoid legal issues and develop positive landlord / tenant relationships.

6. Landlord Obligations

The role of the landlord in the voucher program is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program's housing quality standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments.

Owners and property managers are encouraged to complete the Landlord Education Program administered bi-annually through a partnership with Winnebago County Extension, the city of Oshkosh, and the Oshkosh / Winnebago County Housing Authority. To learn more about this valuable program, visit the Landlord Education Program page.

Learn more about the role of the landlord in the HCV program by downloading the HCV Landlord Guide.

7. Housing Authority Obligations:

The Housing Authority administers the voucher program locally, providing housing assistance that enables a family to seek out suitable housing. The Housing Authority enters into a contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of the family.

If the landlord fails to meet the owner's obligations under the lease, the Housing Authority has the right to terminate assistance payments.

The Housing Authority must reexamine the family's income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least annually to ensure that it meets minimum housing quality standards.

8. Moving With Your Voucher

A family's housing needs may shift over time with changes in family size, job locations, and for other reasons. The housing choice voucher program is designed to allow families to move without the loss of housing assistance.

Moves are permissible as long as the family notifies the Housing Authority ahead of time, terminates its existing lease within the lease provisions, and finds acceptable alternate housing. Those new voucher-holders not living in the jurisdiction of the Housing Authority at the time the family applied for housing assistance must initially lease a unit within that jurisdiction for the first twelve months of assistance.

9. The Family Self Sufficiency Program

Recipients of housing assistance through HCV are eligible to participate in the Family Self Sufficiency Program (FSS). FSS provides support to recipients as they work to attain self-sufficiency through education advancement, employment skill development, access to community resources, home-ownership opportunities, and development of financial assets, with the goal of improving their family’s financial situation and overall quality of life. Learn more by visiting the FAMILY SELF SUFFICIENCY PAGE.

10. Requesting Additional Information

Prior to logging requests for additional information, please review all of the content on this webpage and review the content on the Frequently Asked Questions Page (FAQ).

Because the Housing Choice Voucher waitlist format is a lottery, the Housing Authority does not provide status updates to applicants on the waitlist. Applicants will be contacted if they are selected from the waitlist.

Landlords requesting information on inspections and property standards should first review the HCV Landlord Guide. For additional questions, please contact the Housing Choice Voucher Inspector at 920.424.1450 extension 116. Please allow three (3) business days for the return of a message.

All other requests for additional Housing Choice Voucher Program information can be directed to the Housing Choice Voucher Program Administrator, 920.725.5074. Please allow five (5) business days for the return of a message.