The Springfield Housing Authority’s Rental Assistance Office is where applicants may complete forms to apply for Massachusetts Rental Vouchers and federal Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8 Vouchers.
The Housing Choice (Section 8) voucher program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to rent decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private marke. Participants find and lease privately owned may free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing developments.
The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program is similar, but funded by the state. The SHA works with about 1,400 landlords who provide safe and sanitary housing under these programs.
- GoSection8.com: GoSection8.com is the largest rental-listing service for the Section 8 housing market. They service families, landlords and public-housing agencies across the United States. They provide free information about current housing options under HUD’s Section 8 Housing Voucher (Section 8) Program in every market in the country.
- MASS NAHRO’s Section 8 / Housing Choice Voucher Centralized Waiting List: MASS NAHRO manages the centralized waiting list. There is a lot of good additional information on this page for applicants, including applications in other languages, how to file change of address, how to check status, and more.
- Section 8 / Housing Choice Voucher Program Apartment Listings: Visit this link to see our full list of available Public Housing properties and photos of the complexes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rental Assistance Voucher Programs
What are Section 8 vouchers?
The Section 8 voucher program, also known as the Rental Certificate Program, is a U.S. Housing and Urban Development-funded program aimed at helping extremely low-income families and elderly and disabled persons rent decent, safe and sanitary housing. Rental vouchers, administered by the local housing authority, are awarded in limited number to qualifying families or persons. Program participants usually pay no more than 30 percent of their monthly-adjusted income towards rent and utilities. The Rental Certificate payment subsidizes the balance of the rent to the property owner. Program participants are responsible for finding and choosing their apartments.
How do Section 8 vouchers work?
The Rental Certificate voucher places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family or person who has been assigned a voucher. Participants are urged to choose carefully, viewing several apartments to secure the best deal, and best choice.
The Springfield Housing Authority manages the voucher portion of the program. The rent unit must meet acceptable levels of health and safety before the SHA can approve payments to landlords. Once the voucher holder finds an apartment and reaches an agreement with the landlord, the SHA inspects the property to ensure that it meets all living standards codes. The voucher holder must pay more than the 30 percent of monthly gross adjusted income for rent and utilities if the apartment rent is greater than the payment standards. However, voucher holders cannot pay more than 40 percent of adjusted gross family income toward rent and utilities. Families and individuals with Section 8 vouchers must report any changes in income to the SHA.
The SHA establishes payment standards to calculate the amount of assistance program participants receive, but that does not restrict the landlord to the amount of rent charged. It is up to the voucher holder to secure a unit that rents at or below the payment standard.
What is the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program?
The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, formerly known as the Chapter 707 Program, provides low-income families and individuals both tenant- and development-based rental subsidies.
Tenant-based vouchers are valid for any housing unit that meets the standards of the state sanitary code. Project-based vouchers are assigned to a specific housing unit or development. The SHA administers the program locally.
For the tenant based program, the state subsidy or voucher value is a set amount, determined by factors including the tenant’s income, household size and geography. Participants pay the difference between the value of the voucher and what the landlord charges for rent.
Participants in the project-based component pay either 35% or 40% of their adjusted gross income, depending upon whether or not heat is included in the utilities.
How can I participate?
The SHA bases eligibility on total household income and family size, and is limited to United States citizens, with specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, 75 percent of applicants’ family income may not exceed 30 percent of median income for the metropolitan area where the family chooses to live.
Median income levels are published by HUD, and vary by location. During the application process, SHA will collect information on family income, assets and family composition. The authority will verify this information to determine program eligibility and the amount of the rental assistance payment.
If the SHA determines that your family is preliminarily eligible, your name will go on the waiting list. Currently, the SHA participates in the Section 8 Centralized Wait List, a pooling of many housing authorities in the region. The Section 8 Rental Certificate Program is extremely popular, and the waiting list is now at between 5 and 10 years. The waiting list always remains open to new applicants.
How do I apply?
If you are interested in applying for a rental assistance voucher, contact the Springfield Housing Authority at 165 Liberty St., Office 1, Springfield, MA 01103. The telephone number is 413-785-4522. You can apply on-line MASSNAHRO Centralized Waiting List
For further assistance, contact the HUD office nearest you.
Where can I live?
Once your family has been issued a Section 8 voucher, you can search the private market in your community for a housing unit that is decent, safe and sanitary according to Housing Quality Standards (HQS) established by HUD and the SHA. Request a copy of ‘A Good Place to Live!” available from HUD or the SHA, as well as in the box at right. This brochure will guide you in finding a unit that meets required standards.
When you have found a suitable unit, and the owner agrees to lease to your family under the Rental Certificate Program, the SHA will inspect the unit to ensure that it is suitable. After passing this inspection, the landlord and tenant enter a lease for an initial term of one year. The housing authority and the landlord sign a Housing Assistance Payments Contract through which the subsidized portion of the rent is paid on your behalf. You will be responsible for the monthly payment of the difference between the rent and the housing assistance payment.
Can I move and continue to receive assistance?
A family’s housing needs change over time with changes in family size, job locations, and for other reasons. The Rental Certificate Program is designed to allow families to move without the loss of rental assistance. Moves are fine as long as the family notifies the housing authority ahead of time, terminates the existing lease appropriately, and finds acceptable housing elsewhere. Families may even move outside the voucher’s community of origin.
Under the voucher program, recipients may move to units anywhere in the United States, as long as the family lived in the community of origin when the family applied for the voucher. New voucher holders not living within the jurisdiction of the housing authority at the time the family applies must initially rent a unit in that community for the first 12 months of assistance. A family that wishes to move outside the community of origin must housing with the housing authority that administers the voucher to verify the correct procedures for moving.
After one year, the lease is renewed for a specified time period, agreed upon by the tenant and landlord. You may vacate with a notice after the term of the lease expires. If you remain in the unit, you are recertified for eligibility and the unit is inspected for Housing Quality Standards annually. At that time, the landlord may request an annual adjustment rent increase, which must be approved by the housing authority. This request must be submitted in writing to the housing authority and to you, 60 days before renewal.
Roles – Tenant, Landlord, Housing Authority, and HUD
Once the housing authority approves an eligible family’s lease and housing unit, the family and the landlord sign the lease. At the same time, the landlord and the housing authority sign a housing assistance contract, which runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone – tenant, landlord and the housing authority – has obligations and responsibilities within the voucher program.
When a family selects a housing unit and the housing authority approves the unit and the lease, the family signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. 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 the program requirements, pay its share of the rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition and notify the housing authority of any changes in income or family composition.
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 standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed by the housing authority.
Housing Authority’s Role
The housing authority administers the voucher program locally. The housing authority provides a family with rental assistance that enables the family to find suitable housing, and the housing authority enters into a contract with the landlord to provide rental assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet his or her obligations under the lease, the housing authority has the right to terminate assistance payments.
To cover the cost of the Rental Certificate Program, HUD provides funds to allow housing authorities to make voucher payments on behalf of families. HUD also pays housing authorities a fee for the cost of administering the program. When additional funds become available to assist new families, HUD invites housing authorities to apply for funds for additional rental vouchers. Applications are then reviewed and awarded to selected housing authorities on a competitive basis.