Housing Authority of Lancaster

HCV Participant Information

Through the HCV program, HAL provides families with the housing assistance the enables them to seek safe, decent, and affordable housing in the private market within Lancaster County.  A great feature of the Housing Choice Voucher Program is that families may choose from a broad variety of housing types and locations. This is important because where you live can also affect your access to job opportunities, transportation, medical care, training programs and schools, shopping, and community services. Think about where you want to live and make an informed choice when you select your next home. The family must use the assisted unit for residence by the family. The unit must be the family’s only residence.

HAL will enter into a contract with the owner by offering assistance payments directly to the owner on behalf of the family. The subsidy remains with the family; it is not attached to the dwelling unit. The amount of subsidy is based on the family’s income and household composition. Several steps guide an applicant into a participant into the HCV Program.

The first step to assistance in the Housing Choice Voucher Program is…

A briefing

Each participant must attend a briefing where they are informed about the program, including but not limited to obligations and procedures of the program. The participant is advised of the unit size for which it is eligible based on family size and composition. The HAL determines a payment standard that is the amount generally needed to rent a moderately-priced dwelling unit in the local housing market and that is used to calculate the amount of housing assistance a family will receive. The housing voucher family must pay 30% of its monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities, and if the unit rent is greater than the payment standard, the family is required to pay the additional amount. By law, whenever a family moves to a new unit where the rent exceeds the payment standard, the family may not pay more than 40 percent of its adjusted monthly income for rent.

The HAL maintains and provides a listing of available, local units for which the landlord has notified the HAL that they will accept a housing voucher. The family is not limited to this list. The family may choose any approved unit within the HAL’s jurisdiction.

Locate eligible housing unit

Once a family has been issued a Housing Choice Voucher, they search the private rental market in the community for a housing unit that is decent, safe, and sanitary according to Housing Quality Standards (HQS) as established by HUD. This unit may include the family’s present residence. The rent must be reasonable for the size, type, and condition of the unit and the owner must be willing to enter into a contract with the HAL and comply with program rules. General guidance on how to search for a suitable unit will be provided in the briefing packet. Security deposit cannot exceed the amount charged to unassisted tenants.

PHA Approves tenancy and  unit

Once the family finds a suitable housing unit to rent, the owner must complete a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) form and the HUD Tenancy Addendum. A blank lease agreement between tenant and owner must also be provided.  This lease will be signed by both parties at the lease-up.

After receipt and review of the RTA, the HA will schedule an inspection of the unit to insure it meets certain HQS criteria. If the unit passes inspection, the HA will begin the necessary paperwork and steps to provide assistance. See Owners and Landlords section for detailed information on Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Inspection.

HAL will determine whether or not the amount of rent requested is reasonable based on rents for similar properties. Housing Authority staff will help participants attempt to negotiate a reasonable rent with the landlord. The Housing Authority cannot approve assistance for a unit that doesn’t have reasonable rent.

Lease up – Contract and Lease Signed

The HAL will make an appointment with both the participant and the landlord. The participant will review and sign all necessary paperwork.  The HA and owner will sign a Housing Assistance Payments Contract; the tenant and the owner will sign a lease agreement.

The participant is then able to move in, pay rent and utilities and be a good tenant.

Housing assistance payments (HAP)

The HAL makes monthly Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) to the owner as long as the family  continues to meet eligibility criteria and the unit qualifies under the program. The tenant is responsible for the monthly payment of the difference between the total rent and the HAP.

How is rent determined? 

Your contribution towards rent is based on your family’s monthly adjusted income or minimum contribution, the payment standard for the bedroom size allocated to you, and the gross rent (rent plus utility allowance) for the unit you select.

The maximum rental subsidy is the payment standard minus your total tenant payment. The total tenant payment is the highest of:

  • 30% of adjusted income
  • 10% of total monthly income

If the gross rent (rent + utility allowance) is greater than your payment standard, you will pay the total tenant payment plus the amount the gross rent exceeds the payment standard.

At your initial lease-up, if the rent to owner plus utility allowance is more than the payment standard, assistance may only be approved if your family share is not more than 40% of your monthly adjusted income.

It is illegal for the participant to pay any additional amounts of rent or any other items not specified in the lease, which has not been specifically approved by HAL.


Housing Choice Voucher participants may participate in any elective programs offered by the HAL. These programs include Family Self Sufficiency (FSS), MAPS to Success and use of the HALs computer labs. See the Support/Resources page for additional information.

Housing Subsidy:

An assisted family or member of the family must not receive HCV program assistance while receiving another housing subsidy, for the same unit or a different unit under any other federal, state or local housing assistance program.

A family must not receive HCV program assistance while residing in a unit owned by a parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sister or brother of any member of the family, unless the HAL has determined (and has notified the owner and the family of such determination) that approving rental of the unit, notwithstanding such relationship, would provide reasonable accommodation for a family member who is a person with disabilities.

Housing Quality Standards Inspections:

Once a unit is initially approved for participation in the program, the HAL will conduct biennial (once every two years) unit inspections for all units that had no health and safety deficiencies during the previous HQS inspection. Any unit that had health and safety deficiencies during its previous inspection will be inspected annually (once every year). An adult must be present to allow inspection to take place!

Informal Hearings:

An informal hearing is a hearing regarding a decision affecting a participating family in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Complete procedures for requesting an informal hearing will be provided at the briefing and can be found in the Administrative Plan for the Housing Choice Voucher Program

Reasonable Accommodations:

If a participant has any special needs or has family members with special needs, a request a reasonable accommodations in order to have equal access to the programs and services of the Housing Choice Voucher Program may be made.

Criminal Activity:

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) permits the Housing Authority to deny or terminate assistance to applicants and participants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program if any member of the family engages in drug-related or violent criminal activity. A criminal background check will be conducted on all family members, ages 18 and older upon entering the program and periodically throughout participation in the program.

Family members must not engage in drug-related criminal activity, violent criminal activity or other criminal activity that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of other residents and persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the premises.


The family must report, in writing, any changes in the family composition and income within  (10) ten days of the occurrence using the Interim Change Form. This form along with supporting documentation can be hand-delivered or mailed to:

Housing Authority of Lancaster
Attn: HCV Coordinator
3502 Caroline Courts
P.O. Box 1235
Lancaster, SC 29721