About the Housing Choice Voucher Program

The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program helps low-income households choose and pay for quality housing in the private market. With funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the HCV Program pays a portion of a family’s rent each month to give them access to the full range of housing available in Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods. Participants can rent a single-family home, an apartment or a condominium. The HCV Program helps families realize their potential and cultivate their personal, economic and social skills to support the transition from subsidized to non-subsidized housing.

Once a unit has passed inspection and the rent is determined, the family will then pay a percentage of their monthly adjusted income for rent and utilities and CHA will pay the difference.


Participants in the HCV Program must meet a number of requirements detailed in CHA’s HCV Program Administrative Plan such as the following:

  • Currently on the HCV Program Waiting List
  • Meet income limits specified by HUD
  • Pass a criminal background check

Waiting List Lottery

The Chicago Housing Authority opened the lottery for the HCV Program waiting list in 2008.This lottery was also known as the RentBetter Waiting List Lottery. The CHA commissioned a city-wide outreach campaign and accepted registration forms for four weeks. Individuals that completed the required questions and submitted a registration form during those four weeks were entered into an electronic lottery. A computer then randomly selected the names of 40,000 individuals and randomly assigned them a position on the waiting list. Those who received a spot on the waiting list were notified via postal mail.

If you did not register for the lottery between April 18 and May 15, 2008, your name was not added to the lottery and you are not eligible for the HCV Program. However, you may qualify for other CHA housing options. For more information about those options, please visit the Housing page.

If you did register for the lottery, you should have received a letter notifying you of whether or not you received a spot on the waiting list. The lottery was conducted by an independent contractor, and HCV Program staff was not responsible for determining who was added to the list.  For more information, visit the HCV Program Frequently Asked Questions page.