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 property owner. 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 for the waiting list randomly using a lottery process. Once selected from the waitlist the following steps summarize the process to become a HCV participant family:
- Apply and interview
- Attend a voucher briefing
- Select a unit, submit a Request for Tenancy Approval
- Await inspection results
- Await rent determination
- 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 waiting list lottery is open. CHA randomly selects waiting list applicants and assigns them a position on the waiting 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 HCV Program:
• Meet HUD’s definition of family
• Meet income limits specified by HUD
• Qualify on the basis of citizenship or 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 October 2019: the Chicago Housing Authority will now allow the lease effective date to be on any day of the month, except the 1st.
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 2021 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.
CHA has partnered with the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) to offer HCV participants with a verifiable disability the opportunity to receive home accessibility modifications to make their current or soon-to-be home more accessible, free of charge. Modifications can include, but are not limited to: ramps, porch or stair lifts, widened doorways, accessible sinks or cabinets, roll-in showers, grab bars or grab rails, zero-step entry or room transitions. While multiple modifications can be requested per project, funding is capped at $10,000 per project. Modifications are completed by licensed, insured and experienced home remodeling companies.
To apply for a modification, HCV participants must first submit a Request for Reasonable Accommodation. For more information about the Modification Fund, please see the HomeMod Fund Flyer, call 312-913-7062 or email 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: As of November 16, 2020, the South Office has been relocated (see new address listed below). While all HCV offices remain closed to the public, “no contact” document drop boxes are available at each location for client use during normal business hours.
Regional Office Locations and ZIP Codes Served
60 E. Van Buren St.
3617 S. State 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 office provides a resource center that includes a wide range of information, internet access, before property listings. Each resource center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. No appointment is necessary.