Voucher Holder FAQs
Q: How long is my voucher active? Will my counselor assist me in finding a unit?
A: Vouchers are active for 60 days. In the event that a participant cannot find a house due to extenuating circumstances, an extension can be issued. When you receive your voucher, your counselor will provide you with at least three property referrals. Participants are encouraged to conduct their own housing search as well. Our goal is to make sure that everyone with a voucher receives the level of assistance that is necessary to find and lease a property of their choice.
Q: What size voucher will I be eligible for?
A: Subsidy standards are based on the family composition and HUD approved standards. Generally, HUD allows 2 people per bedroom. Our Administrative Plan is more generous then the HUD maximum standards. Our standards take into consideration generation differences and exceptions due to medical reasons. Contact your Housing Counselor if you feel your family has a special circumstance that would require additional space for your family.
Q: What is an “allowable area”? How can I determine if a home or apartment I’m looking at is in an allowable area?
A: “Allowable areas” are opportunity neighborhoods that meet MBQ’s Special Mobility Program requirements for having low rates of poverty, minority concentration, and assisted housing. At MBQ’s Initial Voucher Briefings, participants will learn how to determine if an address is in an allowable area by finding its census tract code here and making sure the tract is listed on the Allowable Census Tract sheet.
Q: How will I know if I can afford a unit?
A: At MBQ’s Initial Voucher Briefings, you will learn how to combine rent and utility expenses and subtract MBQ’s voucher subsidy to determine if a property is affordable to you or not. Your MBQ counselor is available to help you determine if the unit is affordable.
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Q:I found a unit I would like to lease. Can I sign the lease and move in until the inspection?
A: No. You should not sign a lease before MBQ gives you the approval to move into a unit. MBQ cannot approve payment for an owner until the unit passes an inspection, the rent reasonableness has been determined, and then all leasing documents are completed.
Q:How long will it take for my move in approval to be given?
A: The processing of the leasing varies, depending on the length of time it takes for both you and the owner to provide all needed information, the owner’s availability for the inspection, and how quickly the owner corrects any HQS deficiencies (if present) in the unit after inspection.
Q: How do I figure out what I am going to be paying towards my portion of the rent?
A: You will always pay at least 30% of you adjusted income regardless of the unit you select. MBQ uses a HUD approved formula to determine your family contribution toward rent and utilities. If 30% of your income is $300, and you have a utility allowance of $200, your portion of the rent will be at least $100. You will never pay more than 40% of your monthly adjusted income in your first year of living in a unit.
Q: If I am a joint owner of a checking or savings account, how does MBQ use this information when determining my portion of rent?
A: HUD establishes the guidelines for joint accounts. When accounts are held jointly and one of the owners in not in the household, MBQ prorates the interest earned on the asset according to the ownership of each account.
Q: What is a utility allowance?
A: It is the estimated cost of utilities based on usual consumption in a particular area. It is assigned based on unit size and unit type. You can get a copy of your utility chart here. (link to utility chart forms)
Q: What happens if my utility bill is higher than what the utility chart says it should be?
A: You pay the difference. The utility chart is reviewed at least annually to determine if the consumption rate is accurate for the area. If you are having problems with high utilities, contact your counselor for possible resources.
Q: Why do I only have a 3 bedroom voucher when I have 4 people in my household?
A: Subsidy standards are based on the family composition and HUD approved standards. Generally, HUD allows 2 people per living sleeping area. Our Administrative Plan is more generous then the HUD maximum standards. Our standards take into consideration generation differences and exceptions due to medical reasons. Contact your Housing Counselor if you feel your family has a special circumstance that would require additional space for your family.
Q: Who determines my portion of rent? The landlord or MBQ?
A: MBQ determines your tenant portion of rent based on the rent charged by the owner, payment standards, family income, and family composition. MBQ notifies all tenants and owners in writing about the appropriate portions required.
Q: What income does MBQ count when determining what rent I pay?
A: It is the family’s responsibility to report all income amounts and sources to MBQ. HUD has a list of incomes that are not included when determining rent, although these sources must be reported regardless of whether it is includable income or not. MBQ follows HUD guidelines when counting income for a family.
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Q: What do I do if a family member would like to move into my unit with me?
A: You will need to submit an Interim Change form to MBQ to add the family member, provide the requested documentation for the family member and await MBQ’s approval before moving an additional person into your unit. If you move someone into your unit without the approval you will jeopardize your housing assistance and your assistance may be terminated.
Q: A member of my household just had a baby. When do I report this?
A: Congratulations. You must always report family composition changes and income changes within 10 days of the action using an Interim Change form. The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) department will advise you about any documentation necessary to add a family member.
Q: When I have a change in income, is it necessary to report it when I get it or wait until my Recertification?
A: Under your family obligations, you must report all changes in family composition and income using the Interim Change form within a 10 day period or it could result in a termination for not reporting changes. However, an increase in income will not be processed until your next Biennial Recertification.
Q: I submitted an interim change to MBQ. How long will this take to process?
A: The HCV Department will process your change within 30-60 days. Please remember to continue to pay your landlord your rental portion until further notification is received.
Q: How often will MBQ send out a request to update information from me?
A: You are required to report any changes in your family composition and or income within 10 days of the change. MBQ will send out requests to update your family status at least once every two years after your lease up with the program. If there are discrepancies found in your reported income through HUD computer matching, requests may be more frequent.
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Q: Who do I notify when I have maintenance problems in my unit?
A: Always notify your landlord first. Maintenance issue requests to the owner should be made in writing. It the problems are life threatening, also contact MBQ. If the landlord does not respond within a reasonable time frame, send a copy of the written notice that was sent to the owner to the Inspections Department.
Q: How often will MBQ complete inspections on my unit?
A: MBQ will complete an inspection before you move into your unit and at least once every two years under normal circumstances. If you are experiencing maintenance issues and your landlord is not responsive, MBQ may schedule an additional inspection on your unit.
Q: I am a current resident who wants to move. Who should I talk to and do I have to complete a special form?
A: If you are interested in moving you can speak directly to your assigned Housing Counselor. Yes, you will need to complete a Notice of Intent Tto Move form and notify your landlord with a copy of this notice.
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