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.
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 January 1, 2017, CHA will bill 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.
For New Port in clients please send all inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
For Port Billable clients please send all inquiries to email@example.com
LEASE EFFECTIVE DATES
Effective July 1, 2018: In an effort to limit the instances in which two different property owners have legitimate claims to a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) for the same HCV Program tenant, the Chicago Housing Authority will only accept leases where the lease effective date is either the 2nd or the 16th of the month.
Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
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 2019 Payment Standards. As part of CHA's commitment to provide voucher holders access to more Chicago neighborhoods, CHA implemented an Exception Payment Standard policy.
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.
HCV participants or household members are eligible to receive a reasonable modification to existing premises, which are occupied or will be occupied by the person with a disability. To qualify for a modification, participants must (1) have a verifiable disability and (2) submit a Reasonable Accommodation request which is subject to approval by CHA's Housing Rights and Nondiscrimination Department. For more information about this program, please contact CHA's Housing Rights and Nondiscrimination Department at 312-913-7062 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Regional Office Locations
CHA operates three Regional Offices to accommodate in-person visits. HCV Program participants will go to one of these offices to attend appointments and conduct business with CHA.
All HCV Program offices are open from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday*.
*Beginning October 1, 2018, all HCV Offices will only see walk-in clients requiring assistance from back-office personnel, including housing specialists and managers, on Mondays and Fridays. The offices will be open to clients by appointment only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Servicing offices are assigned based on ZIP code. Please reference the chart below to determine which office services your area.
Note: Starting Tuesday, April 30th, voucher holders, participants and property owners who conduct HCV-related business at the West Regional Office will receive services at a new location. Click here for more details
Regional Office Locations and ZIP Codes Served
60 E. Van Buren St.
10 W. 35th Street
1852 S. Albany Avenue
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.
Housing Choice Voucher/Section 8 FAQs
At this time, the HCV wait list is closed to new applicants. The waitlist opened and closed in 2008. CHA will provide public notice to announce the application period for the opening of any CHA waitlist.
The eligibility appointment is usually scheduled 60 days from the time the family was selected from the waiting list.
Port-ins: For families that are porting in, after receiving the completed file from the initial Housing Authority; the file will be reviewed within 10-14 business days.
Port-outs: Files are sent out within 2 weeks of being prepared for the Portability transfer.
A family is required to report income and/or household changes in person at their Regional Office. The timeframe to process changes in household income, composition, etc. is generally up to 30 days after all of the required documentation is received.
he eligibility requirements for receiving moving papers are: 1. You must not be in a current lease/or it must expire within 60 days of your request. 2. The Head of Household and all adults members must pass a current Criminal Background Check. 3. You must be in good standing with Program obligations. If you meet the criteria, contact our Customer Service Call Center at (312) 935-2600. To bypass holding to speak to a Specialist email us at email@example.com. A representative from our office will contact you within one business day to address your inquiry or forward it to the Servicing Team for resolution.