What are housing choice vouchers?

The housing choice voucher program, formerly known as Section 8, is the federal government’s program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Housing choice vouchers (HCV) are administered locally by public housing authorities (PHAs), such as the Housing Authorities of the City of Eureka and the County of Humboldt. The PHAs receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program. 

A family that is issued a housing choice voucher (HCV) is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program. It is their responsibility to find a suitable housing unit within the private market where the owner/landlord agrees to rent under the HCV program and where the rental unit meets the minimum standards of health and safety as determined by the PHA. The family may even choose their current residence if approved by their landlord and the PHA.

Once the lease and voucher are approved, the rent is then paid directly to the landlord by both the PHA and the tenant. The PHA pays a portion of the rent, known as a “housing subsidy,” directly to the landlord on behalf of the participating family (Voucher Holder). The family pays the remaining portion of rent to the landlord.

benefits for Landlords

We will pay you up to $1000* to join!

We are offering a new Landlord Incentive Program for a limited time. The incentive program is funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist voucher families find affordable housing during the pandemic.

New Landlord Signing Bonus*

This is a one-time signing bonus of $1,000 for any newly participating Landlord or returning Landlord that has not participated in the HCV program for the last 12 months.

New Unit Signing Bonus*

This is a signing bonus of $500 for any unit that has not been an HCV assisted unit previously or in the past 12 months. New Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV) units are also eligible for a $500 bonus.

And there is more…

You charge the same fair market rate for rent to an HCV participant as you would any other tenant. HUD has created guidelines for the fair market rents that cannot be exceeded. The Housing Authority encourages landlords to screen HCV participants as they would any other renter.

You sign your own lease with the tenant and a contract with Housing Authority. After the first year, the lease can be renewed on a month-to-month basis.

Participating landlords will receive timely housing assistance payments (HAP) each month by direct deposit or mail if requested. If your participating tenant has a loss in income and they report the loss to us in a timely manner, we will make the adjustment to pay a higher portion of the rent starting the following month.

High vacancy rates can be avoided by opening up your property to tenants with vouchers and advertising on‘s free property listing. Landlords can select their own criteria for tenants, as long as they follow local and federal fair housing guidelines.

Before your unit is rented to an HCV participant, it will be inspected, free of charge, to ensure it meets the federal Housing Quality Standards (HQS) set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Housing (HUD). If the unit fails an inspection, you will have time to make the repairs.  See the inspection checklist here.

Steps to becoming an HCV Landlord

Six simple steps to a successful HCV (formerly Section 8) lease:

As of May 2021, Humboldt County landlords can list available voucher-friendly housing at  Register and list your property online or mail the paper application.

See our Property Listing page for more information.

Screen people interested in renting your property by taking applications and showing your property. Then select the applicant of your choice (according to fair housing guidelines).

The RFTA packet is given to the voucher holder and contains all the necessary paperwork that you will need to sign and return to the Housing Authority.

“Rent reasonableness” is an analysis to determine what is considered a reasonable rent you may charge the tenant based on the market and current rents for units like yours in the area.

If you accept the rent offer, the Housing Authority will conduct a free inspection of your property to be certain it meets all the housing quality standards necessary. If there are problems, you will be given the opportunity to make corrections, and your property will be re-inspected.

See the inspection checklist here.

When your property is approved, your renter may sign your lease and take possession of the unit. Once you provide a signed copy of your lease to the Housing Authority, the contract between you and the Housing Authority will be mailed out for you to sign and return. Finally, you can set up direct deposit and begin collecting rent.