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Housing Choice Voucher

The Housing Choice Voucher waiting list is closed. The waiting lists for Public Housing & Project Based voucher will remain open until further notice.

Please visit the Public Notice section for more information.

The Housing Authority of the County of Merced currently administers the Housing Choice Voucher Program, a Federal rent subsidy program under the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program provides rent subsidy to families in privately own existing rental units in Merced County. The Housing Authority of the County of Merced currently administers 2,705 Housing Choice Vouchers. The Housing Authority enters into a contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to receive sufficient funding to subsidize rent for a certain number of families in a certain period of time. HUD pays the Housing Authority an administrative fee each month for every leased Housing Choice Voucher family.

Families who are eligible must meet the income guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, must pass criminal background checks, must not owe the Housing Authority dollars for any past client history, and comply with completing forms and presenting verifications and documentation that the Housing Authority requires, including immigration status.

Families must apply for the program when the Housing Authority is taking applications. As the family’s name comes to the top of the application waiting list, they are screened for eligibility into the program; and if eligible, are given a Housing Choice Voucher, with a time limit of 60 days to find a unit. The Housing Authority does not screen for tenancy, but does screen for criminal background history. Private owners who wish to rent to Housing Choice Voucher families must screen for tenancy.

The program relies on the availability of units from private owners in Merced County. Owners wishing to place their units on the availability list may call the Housing Authority. This list is given to Housing Choice Voucher families to assist them in looking for a suitable unit.

– Free annual Housing Quality Inspections conducted to keep the property up to minimum Housing Quality Standards.

CO-SIGNER AGREEMENTS: The Housing Authority has implemented a cosigner agreement, which means the owner may obtain a co-signer to the lease. (Must use Housing Authority’s co-signer agreement form.)

– Eligible families are given a voucher to find housing that is within the rent reasonable range (market range) and their family’s subsidy size (bedroom size).

– The owner screens the family for tenancy.

– When the owner accepts the family for tenancy, the family and the owner sign a form called a Request for Tenancy Approval.

– When the Housing Authority receives this form, it is reviewed for rent reasonableness, is also reviewed so that it does not exceed HUD’s affordability factor. An inspection is then scheduled.

– When the unit passes the inspection (owner may have to do some repair work), a HUD contract is executed between the owner and the Housing Authority, and a lease is executed between the owner and the tenant. The Housing Authority processes all of the paperwork. The owner may use their own lease or the Housing Authority’s; but in either case, a HUD’s Tenancy Addendum is added to the lease.

– The tenant will pay the owner a market security deposit under California law.

– The tenant’s portion of rent is based on their family’s composition, income, and the total contract rent on the unit. Each family’s rent portion is different. This rent portion may change during the year as the family’s composition and/or income changes.

– The Housing Choice Voucher family may be terminated from the program for violation of family obligations and/or serious violation of the lease.

– The owner must evict the tenant from the unit. The Housing Authority is not the owner of the unit, and cannot legally evict the tenant, but can terminate them from participating in the program.

Housing Choice Voucher families may take their vouchers and port out to other Housing Authorities in other jurisdictions in the United States where the Housing Choice Voucher Program is administered.

Currently the Housing Authority of the County of Merced has approximately 140 families who are participating in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS). Under the FSS Program, the family earns an escrow account that they receive after they fulfill their FSS contract of becoming economically independent. The Housing Authority employs a FSS Technician who assists families in achieving this goal.

In this program the Housing Authority works closely with the Child Protective Services Division of the Merced County Human Services Agency in providing housing subsidy to families who are separated due to lack of adequate housing.

Director of Housing Programs
Gina Thexton

Main Office Phone: (209) 722-3501
Fax No.: (209) 722-7364