HCV Program Frequently Asked Questions

How does a family participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
As vouchers become available, CHA calls registered names from a waiting list and screens them for program eligibility. Families who meet the income guidelines and pass a criminal background check are issued vouchers. These vouchers allow them to have a portion of their rent paid by CHA and HUD (Dept. of Housing and Urban Development).
What is the cost to participate in the HCV program?

There is no cost. The HCV Program is a government service provided free of charge. It is illegal for anyone to charge Applicants, Voucher Holders or Participants for ANY services provided by the HCV Program, including obtaining a voucher, applying to the Program or being placed on the waiting list. If someone attempts to sell you a voucher, application or place on the waiting list, notify CHA immediately by contacting the CHA Fraud Hotline at 800-533-0441.

How can I get on the program waiting list?

At this time, the waiting list is closed. In 2008, the Chicago Housing Authority opened the lottery for the Housing Choice Voucher Program waiting list. The deadline to register was May 15, 2008. Individuals that completed the required questions and submitted a registration form during the registration period 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 therefore not eligible for the waiting list or the HCV Program.

When will the waiting list re-open?

Currently, CHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program waiting list is closed and CHA has not determined when it will re-open. Public notice will be given if and when the waiting list re-opens.

How do I know if was selected for the waiting list?

Everyone who submitted a registration form for the lottery received a letter notifying them whether or not they had been placed on the waiting list. The letter received by the 40,000 individuals selected for the waiting list included a registration number. HCV Program staff continues to review the list and screen Applicants for Program eligibility. Those who meet the qualifications will be issued vouchers to search for a rental unit in the private market.

I am on the waiting list. How do I find out my status?

When a family’s application number reaches the top of the list, they are notified by mail. This makes it extremely important for families on the waiting list to alert CHA in writing of any change in contact information. For more information, call the CHA Customer Call Center at 312-935-2600.

Are there other affordable housing options?

Yes. Applicants that registered for the 2008 HCV Program waiting list lottery were given the option to also be placed on the project-based voucher waiting list. If selected for the lottery, those who indicated an interest in both are eligible for project-based assistance.

Project-based assistance is different in that you must live in a specific building in order to receive help in paying your rent. Initially you must live in the designated building to receive rental assistance, but after one year of occupancy, you may be eligible to receive a tenant-based voucher if funding is available. 

CHA also offers other affordable housing options for seniors. To learn more about these options, visit our Housing page.

How do Property Owners participate in the program?

Property Owners who have a property for rent should advertise and market it. Voucher Holders will contact you directly if they are interested in your property. If a family or individual with a voucher passes your screening process, you will submit a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) packet provided by the Voucher Holder and submit it to CHA. Then, HCV Program staff will call you to schedule an inspection.


CHA also offers Property Owners a free online property listing service.

Does the program screen families before issuing them vouchers?

Yes. CHA conducts criminal background checks on all families and individuals 18 years of age and older. Members of an Applicant household must pass a criminal background check and meet income guidelines before they are issued vouchers.

Property Owners should implement and carry out their own screening process for all prospective tenants regardless of whether or not they are Voucher Holders.

Am I allowed to consult with a Voucher Holder's previous landlord as part of my screening?

Yes. If a Voucher Holder previously rented a unit under the HCV Program, CHA can provide the contact information for the Property Owner/Manager of that unit to assist you in your screening process. These requests must be submitted in writing to one of the CHA HCV Program Regional Offices. Please call the CHA Customer Call Center at 312-935-2600 for more information.

Why are units required to pass an inspection?

All units must pass HQS inspections to make sure they meet a minimum set of health and safety requirements established by the federal government. The inspection process is based on the premise that government funds should not subsidize substandard housing and that all families regardless of their income have a right to live in housing that is safe, decent and sanitary.

How can I reach the Inspection Department directly?

The direct phone number for the inspection department is 312.935.2600, option 2. You may also e-mail hcvpinspections@thecha.org or visit www.chainspections.org for inspection results and inspection appointment dates.

How do I report program violations?

Should you become aware of any fraudulent activity by a CHA employee, HCVP Applicant, HCVP Voucher Holder, HCVP Participant or participating Property Owner/Manager, please report it to the CHA Fraud Hotline at 800-533-0441. All reports are kept confidential." to "Should you become aware of what you believe to be an HCV Program Applicant, Voucher Holder, Participant or Property Owner or Manager violating the rules and regulations of the HCV Program, please report it to CHA's HCV Program Integrity Hotline at 800-533-0441. All reports are kept confidential.

For portability purposes, what is the Chicago Housing Authority's (CHA's) administrative fee?
Effective May 1, 2013, the CHA’s administrative fee is $44.15.