How the Program Works
CHA’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program allows low-income families to rent quality housing in the private market via federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Through the HCV Program, CHA pays a portion of eligible families’ rent each month directly to the landlord. Families can use their vouchers to rent a house or apartment in the private market throughout the city of Chicago. Because there are more families who need rental assistance than there are funds available, CHA uses a waiting list to administer the program to eligible families. Names are selected from the waiting list randomly using a lottery process. Once selected the following steps summarize the process to become a HCV family:
- Apply and interview
- Attend a voucher briefing
- Use your voucher
- Await inspection results
- Await rent decision
- Sign the lease
- Move in, pay rent and utilities
- Comply with HUD and CHA’s rules and regulations
After admission to the program, all household members must abide by the Family Obligations to remain on the program.
For the HCV program's official policies, see the HCV Administrative Plan. An overview of minor policy changes effective 1/1/16 can be found here, and the complete Procedure Guide is available here. For more information for participants, see the Participant Guidebook.
When a family wishes to receive assistance, the family must submit an application, when the wait list lottery is open. CHA randomly selects applicants and assigns them a position on the wait list. Generally, when a voucher becomes available, the next family at the top of the waiting list is contacted and screened for eligibility. Currently CHA's Waiting List is closed. CHA will provide notice through a variety of media outlets when it reopens.
Applicant families must meet the following eligibility requirements to qualify for the program:
- Meet HUD’s definition of family
- Meet income limits specified by HUD
- Qualify on the basis of citizenship or the eligible immigrant status
- Provide social security number information
- Sign required consent forms
- Pass screening process
Effective February 1, 2016, CHA will absorb the initial PHA for the Participant’s Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and fees associated with administering the voucher.
An eligible family that has been issued a housing choice voucher may use that voucher to lease a unit anywhere in the United States where there is a housing agency operating a HCV program. This feature of the program is referred to as portability. CHA’s HCV program allows for families with a voucher from another housing authority to transfer their voucher to Chicago. This process is called “porting in” to CHA. The process of transferring a voucher from one city to another varies, depending on a number of factors. To view CHA’s current rules on portability see the Portability Flyer.
Payment standards represent the maximum amount of subsidy that CHA can provide a family. CHA does not automatically approve this rent level for a given unit. CHA's monthly rent subsidy depends on a number of factors, including payment standards, the rents of other comparable unsubsidized rental units in the area, and the income of the family. Please see CHA's 2016 Payment Standards. As part of CHA's commitment to provide voucher holders access to more Chicago neighborhoods, CHA implemented an Exception Payment Standard policy.
Please see CHA's Rent Determination Process and procedures on approving rent increases.
Participants in the HCV program pay approximately 30% of their income for rent and utilities. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has defined Total Tenant Payment (TTP) for "rent" to include both shelter and the costs for reasonable amounts of utilities. The amount determined necessary cover the resident's reasonable utility costs is the utility allowance. Please see CHA's 2016 Utility Allowances.
Regional Office Locations
The location of your HCV Program Regional Office may have changed.
Regional Office Locations and ZIP Codes Served
60 E. Van Buren St.
Chicago, IL 60605
10 W. 35th Street
Chicago, IL 60616
2750 W. Roosevelt Road
Chicago, IL 60608
Zip Codes Served:
Zip Codes Served:
Zip Codes Served:
The Central Office services any ZIP codes not referenced above, all Applicants to the HCV Program as well as those who participate in CHA’s Special Programs (Family Self-Sufficiency, Mobility Counseling and Choose To Own Homeownership).
Every Regional provides a resource center that includes a wide range of information, internet access, property listings. Each resource center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. No appointment is necessary.
A complete list of Housing Choice Voucher questions is available.