Frequently Asked Questions
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General Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) FAQs
How do I apply for Tenant-Based HCVP?
CMHA is accepting year-round preliminary applications for the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program to assist low-income families in affording a safe and comfortable home. Lottery selections will be ongoing, and the waiting list will have no closing date. You can submit a preliminary application at any time using any smart phone or computer connected to the internet. Only one preliminary application can be active per applicant. Preliminary applicants must have an active email account, as all CMHA notifications and updates will be shared via email. If you don’t already have a personal account, you can sign up for one through a provider of your choice (Gmail, Yahoo or an Internet Service Provider). Preliminary applications will be active for 18 months. If your application expires before you’re selected, you can immediately submit another one. To submit a preliminary application, click here: www.cmha.net/apply
How Do I apply for other HCVP programs?
I received a letter that I was chosen in the lottery. When do I get my voucher?
It could take several years for CMHA to process thousands of the families selected in the lottery. You must remember to keep your address current. If you move, please contact HCVP to notify us of your new address.
What are the income limits?
Income limits are established annually by HUD. The very low income guidelines are used to determine if the family is income-eligible for the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The PHA compares the gross annual income of the family to the applicable income limit for the household size. Families whose income exceeds the income limit will be denied admission to the program and offered an informal review.
Does CMHA have emergency housing assistance?
No. CMHA does not have any emergency housing in either its public housing or HCVP programs.
Can family or friends be added to the household after the voucher is issued?
Changes in family composition may affect the family’s eligibility and/or share of the rental payment. To be added, family members must be related by birth, adoption or court-awarded custody. All changes in family composition must be reported within 30 days of the change. The landlord must also be informed of additions to the household.
My voucher has expired. How do I get an extension?
Vouchers are issued for 180 days. We may extend the voucher for a longer period of time if a family requests an extension for a reasonable accommodation.
What do I need to do to get a signed contract?
HCVP requires a signed lease agreement between the owner and family. The contract and lease agreement must have the same term dates and monthly rent amounts. The unit must pass the HCVP inspection and the owner must agree to the amount of rent offered by HCVP.
Is there a rule about renting from relatives?
The owner (including a principal or other interested party) may not be the parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sister, brother or spouse of any member of the assisted family. Renting from a family member may be approved as a reasonable accommodation for a family member who is a person with disabilities. If CMHA grants such approval, the owner and family will be notified in writing.
Does CMHA pay the security deposit?
No. The security deposit is paid by the tenant.
When should I pay a security deposit?
Talk with the owner to determine when and if you must pay a security deposit. Get the return policy in writing, just in case you never sign a lease. Typically, security deposits are one month’s rent.
Who pays the utilities?
The owner and the tenant must decide who will be responsible for the payment of specific utilities. These responsibilities are outlined in the lease and contract.
How much money will HCVP pay for my home?
The owner should determine what rent they will charge for an unassisted tenant and request that amount. HCVP will compare the rent requested to other similar units. This comparison, the inspection results, and payment standards will determine what rent we can offer.
What is the tenant’s rent portion?
The tenant rent portion is stated on the initial Housing Choice Voucher contract. Any changes to the portion will be stated on a “Notice of Change to Lease and Contract” letter which will be mailed to the tenant and landlord after every income or household change. Tenant rent portion is affected by family income and the contract rent for the unit. In the first year of the contract, the tenant portion is between 30 - 40% of the family’s monthly adjusted income, depending upon the rent amount. After the first year of the contract, the rent may exceed 40%, depending upon the rent amount.
When can I move in?
You can move into a unit after the owner accepts the contract rent amount and a move-in date is established with CMHA.
Information of Interest to Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) Participants
What is my caseworker’s name?
To find your case worker’s direct dial telephone number, fax number and email address, go to the HCVP Participant Portal
on this website. You will need either your CMHA client number or social security number.
When can I move to another unit?
After your Housing Choice Voucher contract has been in effect for a year or according to the terms of your lease with the owner, you may request moving papers from HCVP. You may not move during the first year of the contract. Movers sessions are held each Friday at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. as well as at 10 a.m. the 3rd Saturday of each month. All sessions are held at CMHA’s main campus building, 8120 Kinsman Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44104. For more information, contact your case worker by accessing his/her contact information available on the HCVP Participant Portal on this website.
You may use your HCVP voucher anywhere within Cuyahoga County, or you can transfer or “port” it to another housing authority within the United States. If you are interested in porting to another housing authority, contact Ms. Sherry Williams at (216) 271-2632. A list of other housing authorities in the United States is on the HUD web page at www.HUD.gov.
How do I qualify for a utility check?
Whether or not a family receives a utility allowance check is determined by family income and the utilities for which the family is responsible. The tenant’s total payment (approximately 30% - 40%of their monthly adjusted income) includes the rent portion and utilities. If the tenant’s rent amount is less than the utility allowance for the unit, the family will receive the difference in a utility check.
The utility allowance is based on the typical cost of utilities and services paid by households that occupy housing of similar size and type in the same locality. Allowances are not based on an individual family’s actual energy consumption.
What date will my unit be inspected, and when will the inspector arrive?
For biennial inspections, appointments are generally scheduled two weeks in advance. Inspections will be scheduled within a 4 hour time frame. Inspections for new contracts are scheduled within one week. Inspectors will arrive within the time frame specified in your appointment letter, either between 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Must I be present when the inspection occurs?
No. However, there must be a responsible adult present, age 18 or over, to let the inspector in. We advise it is in your best interest to be present for the initial inspection. This is an opportunity for you to find out firsthand why the unit may not be passing inspection. Also, it is an opportunity for you to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the HCVP Program.
I was not at home for my inspection. What do I have to do?
If the first inspection is missed, the unit will be failed and will automatically be scheduled for a second appointment. If tenant misses a second appointment, they will be proposed for termination from the HCVP. If landlords miss a second inspection, the unit will be placed in abatement.
In what circumstances can a participant ask for an informal hearing?
Any participant who is proposed for termination from the HCVP Program is entitled to an informal hearing. To receive an informal hearing, the participant must make a request, in writing, within 15 days of the notice of proposed termination. The written hearing request may be in the form of a short (1 or 2 sentence) letter, or the client may fill out a “request for hearing” form, which is available at 8120 Kinsman Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44104.
Information of Interest to Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) Landlords
What do I have to do to qualify as an HCVP landlord?
The landlord has to be willing to participate in the HCVP program and have a unit that can pass inspection. Owners further qualify by attesting that they are not related to the assisted family, that they have not been debarred by HUD, and that they are the rightful owner of the property. This does not occur until the landlord selects a HCVP tenant. There is nothing an owner must do to pre-qualify or register as a landlord.
I want to list my unit for rent. How do I do that?
How to request a rent increase?
All rent-adjustment related forms should be submitted electronically through the Landlord Portal. The electronic form contains important information regarding HCVP procedures for this process. Prior to submission of the request, a Notice of Landlord Rent Adjustment Request form signed by both the owner and client must be submitted. In the Landlord Portal, this document can be found via the "Create Resident Notice" link.
Rent adjustment requests are processed in the order in which they are received. The following criteria must be met in order for the process to begin: 1) The HAP contract must be at least one year old, 2) There must be a passed annual inspection within 12 months of the rent adjustment effective date, 3) Our participant/your tenant must have an up-to-date annual recertification effectuated within 12 months of the rent adjustment effective date, 4) It must be at least 12 months since the last rent adjustment was approved, and 5) The requested amount must deemed rent reasonable.
I requested a rent increase. When will it be effective?
If all of these conditions apply then the proposed effective date would be the 1st of the month after 60 days of the request. Prior to the effective date of the adjustment, a Proposed Lease Addendum (for duplexes and houses only) would be sent out to the owner for their and the tenant’s signature. This Addendum is sent electronically to the email account provided. An outstanding inspection of the unit or a late annual recertification for the participant could change the proposed effective date to a later date if an adjustment is approved.
To view the status of a request, you may go to the Landlord Portal under the Forms tab, select Rent Adjustment tab, View Request History and select from the drop-down tab the actual request that was submitted. Ongoing updates throughout the process may be found here.
Can my tenant pay the extra rent to make up the amount I want for my unit?
No. The Housing Authority determines the tenant’s portion of the contract rent.
How can I help my unit to pass the inspection the first time?
Why was my rent or unit abated?
HCVP is required to inspect units annually. Rent is abated (stopped) when
units fail to pass on two consecutive inspections. The unit will be taken
out of abatement if it passes the third and final inspection. To help ensure
your unit passes the first time, review the inspection checklist
I want to evict my tenant. What do I have to do?
HCVP cannot give legal advice. We recommend you seek the advice of an attorney. If the unit is in the City of Cleveland, you may contact a Cleveland Housing Court Specialist with your questions. The telephone numbers of Housing Court Specialists are: (216) 664-6104, (216) 664-6143 and (216) 664-6929. Landlords and tenants are required to give HCVP a copy of any eviction notice.
Ohio law requires the landlord not receive payment during the eviction process. Upon request from a landlord, HCVP will put HAP payments on hold until we are notified by the landlord that the eviction process is complete. If the tenant remains in the unit during the eviction process, and the unit is not in abatement, the landlord may receive all withheld HAP payments, whether or not the landlord won or lost the eviction. HCVP requests copies of “for-cause” court judgments from landlords so that the tenant can be proposed for termination.
How can I get paid for tenant caused damages?
HCVP does not pay for tenant caused damages. Landlords should bill tenants directly (if the tenant still resides in the unit) or take the amount from the security deposit (if the tenant has moved). If the security deposit is insufficient, we recommend the landlord pursue the tenant in court.
If, as a result of court action, there is a “for-cause” judgment, the landlord should provide HCVP with a copy so the tenant can be held responsible.
Your HCVP Housing Assistance Payment
When will I receive my payment?
If it is a new contract, you will be paid on the next scheduled payment date after HCVP has received three copies of the signed contracts, the executed lease and occupancy permit, when applicable. HCVP will not pay subsidy before the contract terms have been agreed upon. If the owner permits the tenant to move into the unit, the tenant will be responsible for the full amount of the rent and HCVP will not pay the back amount retroactively.
If the unit was in abatement and recently passed inspection, you will be paid on the next scheduled payment date. Payment dates are generally on the 3rd and 16th of each month. There is no retroactive payment for the time a unit was in abatement.
The tenant has been in the unit, and I have not received payment. Why?
Payment cannot be made prior to the unit having passed inspection. After the passed inspection, HCVP will make a rent offer to the landlord, and if the landlord accepts, contracts are prepared for signature. Payment on the signed contract will be made at the next scheduled payment date.
The contract has been cancelled, but the tenant is still living in my unit. Can I get paid?
Participants are responsible for all rent once the contract is cancelled.
I did not receive a payment this month. Why not?
There could be several reasons why you did not receive a payment this month. If the unit is in abatement (two failed inspections) payments are stopped until repairs are made, and the unit passes an inspection. If this is a new contract, the signed contracts may have been returned too late to be included in a payment run. You will be paid on the next payment date. If your tenant has had a recent re-exam, his/her income may have increased to a level where he/she is no longer eligible for HCVP assistance. If this is the case, you will receive a letter from the HCVP office regarding the changes.
Why was money deducted from my payment?
If you owed HCVP money from a previous tenant, and this is your first HCVP contract since that time, HCVP has deducted the money owed from your new tenant’s contract. If the unit was in abatement, HCVP may be taking back subsidy paid during the abatement period.
Can my HAP payment be direct deposited to my account?
Yes. All owners are required to go on direct deposit to receive HAP payments. To sign-up, complete the form found on the HCVP documents web page
entitled, "Automatic Deposit
," and return it, along with a check copy, by mail to HCVP Finance at 8120 Kinsman Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44104
Movers and Port Sessions Cancelled
All Movers and Port Sessions are cancelled until further notice
Moving vouchers are issued Friday at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and every 3rd Saturday at 10 a.m. after each class, at CMHA’s main campus building, 8120 Kinsman Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44104.
Participants must first meet these requirements:
- Have lived in their current unit for at least a year and be eligible to move under their current lease agreement
- Have a current, complete annual recertification
- All household members, age 18 and over, must pass a criminal background check
- Failure to pass the criminal background check will result in a proposal for termination from the program
To view the HCVP’s informational power point presentation for families who plan to move, click on the link provided. Please be sure to view the presentation in "normal" view so that the notes portion is displayed. The notes portion contains a narrative for each slide in the presentation. Download the power point presentation(PPT)
- Receiving moving papers does not authorize participants to move into a new unit.
- All new units must be approved through the HCVP Request for Tenancy Approval process.
Is the criminal background check done immediately?
Yes. If a member of the household fails the criminal background check the household will be proposed for termination from the program. Any paperwork that has been submitted will be placed on hold.
When can I begin looking for a new unit?
As soon as you receive your voucher.
How long do I have to find a unit?
There is a time limit of 120 days to go under contract in a new unit. Reasonable accommodation requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis if more time is needed.
When can I move into my unit?
Participants can move after the unit passes the HQS inspection, the landlord accepts the proposed contract rent, and a move-in-date is approved by the HCVP. No HAP will be paid by the HCVP for rental of the unit prior to the approved move-in-date. Participants should move into their new unit no more than 5 days after the move-in-date approved by the HCVP.
How long does it take for units to be approved?
Once the RFTA is submitted, the approval process generally takes 30-45 days to complete. This process includes checking for foreclosure action, inspecting the unit, and performing the rent determination.
What happens if either the owner or participant no longer wants to rent the unit?
If a move-in-date has not been approved by the HCVP, the participant or owner may cancel the RFTA at any time and the participant will be given new moving papers. If either party wishes to cancel after the move-in-date has been approved, the HCVP must be notified in writing within 14 days.
If the participant does not obtain the keys to the new unit within 5 days of the effective date of the HAP contract, the HCVP may terminate the contract. Failure to notify the HCVP may cause the participant to be proposed for termination from the voucher program.
When does the participant have to be out of their previous unit?
Participants must ensure that all personal belongings are moved out of the previous unit and keys are returned to the landlord as soon as possible. Once CMHA starts payment on the new unit, we will no longer make any Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) for the previous unit. If the participant continues to maintain possession of the previous unit, the participant will be responsible for paying the full amount of any rent due to the previous landlord.