Rental Assistance Programs
The purpose of rental assistance is to help low-income households secure decent rental housing by providing assistance that fills the gap between the family's ability to pay and total housing costs. HAPHousing administers both state and federally funded rental assistance programs.
In most programs, participating households must find housing that meets program requirements on the private rental market. Assisted units are regularly inspected to insure that they meet program standards for safety. Written agreements are signed between the owner, tenant and agency outlining their respective rights and responsibilities. Program participants pay a share of the rent based on their household income, and HAPHousing pays the rental assistance amount directly to the landlord each month.
Those selected for the program receive counseling on program requirements, tenant rights and responsibilities, fair housing, housing search and negotiating with landlords. Landlords are provided with detailed information about the program and receive monthly checks directly from the agency. Housing counselors assist both tenant and landlord throughout program participation.
Participants may choose housing anywhere in Hampden, Hampshire or Franklin Counties and lease it through HAPHousing. They are also able to select housing anywhere in the state through a network of regional agencies that contract with the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Out-of-state transfers can also be arranged under some programs.
HAPHousing provides Section 8 mobile vouchers to more than 3,400 low-income families throughout Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties under a contract with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development that uses funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, and the rent must be reasonable in comparison to rents for similar, non-assisted units in the same neighborhood or community. Rental assistance is paid directly to the landlord; the amount is determined based on the family’s income. The family pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the Section 8 rental assistance.
PLEASE NOTE: Currently all the vouchers allocated to HAPHousing are in use, and we are not issuing any new vouchers. If and when vouchers become available, we will begin selecting applicants who applied in 2002 from the waiting list. You may still apply for Section 8 housing, but you should understand that the approval process is long.
Participants in HAPHousing’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program can enroll in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS), a supportive program designed to assist you in becoming financially self-sufficient. This means that you will no longer need to rely on public assistance, such as TAFDC, SSI, Unemployment, etc. FSS can help you set goals and bring direction into your life through planning, support, and encouragement.
If you are motivated to try new and exciting things, want to get off public assistance, and want to change careers or employment direction, find out more about FSS.
Click here to see stories about successful FSS program graduates.
The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development provides funds for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program. MRVP offers both tenant-based and unit-based rental assistance. The tenant-based voucher, known as Mobile, is assigned to the participant and is valid for any housing unit that meets program standards. At the current time, the waiting list for MRVP is closed, and HAPHousing cannot re-issue vouchers when someone leaves the program. Unit-based rental assistance is assigned to a specific housing unit or development. The owner rents these units to a program-eligible tenant, and those tenants who move lose the rental assistance.
Search for unit-based MRVP rental assistance properties. (links to property database)
Under MRVP, a fixed amount of rental assistance is paid, based on the participating family's income, household size and geography. The participant pays the difference between the value of the voucher and the actual rent charged by the landlord. The tenant cannot pay more than 40% of their income for rent. HAP administers a total of about 400 MRVP vouchers throughout Hampden and Hampshire Counties.
The Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Program (Mod Rehab) is a HUD-funded rental assistance program that provides project-based assistance to eligible tenants living in units under contract with the program. The program was established to provide affordable housing resources and improve the housing stock by requiring that the property owner complete a specified level of building rehabilitation before entering into a Moderate Rehabilitation Housing Assistance Payments Contract for the rehabilitated units. As an incentive, owners could receive rents up to 20% higher than the HUD Fair Market Rents based on a formula that considered the debt service, amenities, management and maintenance costs, etc. With the exception of the Stewart B. McKinney Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy Program for Homeless Individuals (McKinney Mod rehab SRO), there has been no new allocation of Mod Rehab funding since 1989. Congress has authorized one-year renewals of expiring HAPHousing contracts in each of the years since the first expirations began in 1996.
Search for Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation rental assistance properties. (links to property database)
Project-based Section 8 Rental Assistance
Some Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are used to provide long-term, “project-based” affordable housing. The rental assistance is tied to a specific unit for the term of a Housing Assistance Payments contract. This assistance can be used for newly constructed, rehabilitated, or existing units and is often used with other affordable housing development programs to help ensure that the housing produced is available to very low-income households. Some is used for projects designed to serve those with special needs. There is a separate waiting list for each project that has project-based rental assistance, and interested tenants apply through HAPHousing. At this time, the waiting list for project-based assistance is temporarily closed. Watch this space for further information.
Rental Assistance for Special Populations
HAPHousing manages a variety of rental assistance programs targeted to the specific needs of certain populations, including survivors of domestic violence, families facing possible separation from their children due to a lack of adequate housing, families, persons with HIV & AIDS, persons with mental health and/or physical disabilities, and persons in recovery from substance abuse, homeless veterans with disabilities and/or psychiatric and/or substance abuse disorders. Access is generally closed referral from specific supportive service programs and agencies, but those with disabilities are encouraged to call 413-233-1530 for additional specific information.