What are Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)?

Applications are Currently Closed

HPHA is not accepting applications at this time. Please check Notices for further updates.

Housing Choice Voucher Program

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Section 8 Waitlist has been CLOSED. Section 8 Tenant-Based, Project-Based, and Rent Supplement programs waitlists are closed and are not accepting applications.

HPHA’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, formerly known as Section 8, helps low-income families rent quality housing using federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Through the HCV Program, HPHA 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 O‘ahu. Because there are more families who need rental assistance than there are funds available, HPHA uses a waiting list to administer the program to eligible families.
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Housing Choice Voucher Waitlist Process

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:
1. Apply and interview with HPHA
2. Attend a voucher briefing
3. Select a unit, submit a Request for Tenancy Approval
4. Await rent determination
5. Await inspection results
6. Sign the lease
7. Move in, pay rent and utilities
8. Comply with HUD and HPHA's rules and regulations

PBV and RAD Program

The Project-Based Voucher (PBV) Program is similar to the HCV program. However, where HCV vouchers are attached to the tenant, the subsidy for a Project-Based voucher is attached to a specific unit. This allows for quicker lease up and housing by the tenant, as they are not required to search for their own unit. Tenants who receive a project-based voucher are permitted to request an HCV voucher and move out of their project-based unit after their initial 12-month lease has ended.

Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) is a program where Public Housing units are converted to Project-Based units. The families living in those units sign new leases and become part of the PBV program.

Become a Voucher Holder

During the application process, HPHA will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. We will verify this information with other local agencies, your employer and bank, and will use the information to determine program eligibility and the amount of the housing assistance payment

If we determine that your family is eligible, we will put your name on a waiting list, unless it is able to assist you immediately. Once your name is reached on the waiting list, we will contact you and issue to you a housing voucher.
General Eligibility Requirements
  • Family Size
  • Limited to US citizens & specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status
  • Family's income may not exceed 50% of the median income. (Refer to table below)
2022 Income Limits
Urban Honolulu, HI MSA Median Family Income:
Low Income Limits (80%)
Low Income Limits (80%)
Very Low Income Limits (50%)
Extremely Low Income Limits

Review of Rents

When the HPHA reviews the rent a landlord is requesting for their rental unit, the rent must pass two tests :1) Payment Standard; and 2) Rent Reasonableness. Without passing these two tests, a rental unit is not eligible under the HCV program.

Payment Standards

In the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, payment standards are used in the calculation of the housing assistance payment (HAP) that the Hawaii Public Housing Agency pays to the owner on behalf of the family leasing the unit.

24 C.F.R. 982.4 defines Payment Standard as the maximum monthly assistance payment for a family assisted in the voucher program (before deducting the total tenant payment by the family). The payment standard for a family is the lower of:
• Payment standard for the family unit size indicated on the voucher; or
• Payment standard for the size of the unit leased by the family.

The payment standard is only 1 of 2 tests that a unit must pass. A unit must fall at or below the payment standard for the zip code that the unit is located and the size of the unit. If the unit is within the payment standard, it can move on to test #2, Rent Reasonableness. Being within the payment standard does not guarantee that the proposed rent is reasonable.

Rent Reasonableness

No HAP contract can be approved until the HPHA has determined that the rent for the unit is reasonable. The purpose of the rent reasonableness test is to ensure that a fair rent is paid for each unit rented under the HCV program.

HUD regulations define a reasonable rent as one that does not exceed the rent charged for comparable, unassisted units in the same market area. HUD also requires that owners not charge more for assisted units than for comparable units on the premises. This part explains the method used to determine whether a unit’s rent is reasonable.

The rent for a unit proposed for HCV assistance will be compared to the rent charged for comparable units in the same market area. The PHA will develop a range of prices for comparable units by bedroom size within defined market areas. Units proposed for HCV assistance will be compared to the units within this rent range. At least three comparable units will be used for each rent determination and of which at least two must have a gross rent that exceeds the subject gross contract rent, and the total average gross rent of the comparable units exceeds the subject gross rent. Because units may be similar, but not exactly like the unit proposed for HCV assistance, the PHA may make adjustments to the range of prices to account for these differences

Roles of the Tenant, Landlord, HPHA, and HUD

Once HPHA approves an eligible family's housing unit, the family and the landlord sign a lease while the landlord and HPHA sign a housing assistance payments contract that runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone — tenant, landlord, and HPHA — has a role and responsibilities under the voucher program.

Voucher Holder's (Tenant) Role

When a family selects a housing unit, and HPHA approves the unit and lease, the family signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. After the first year the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease.

When the family is settled in a new home, the family is expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay its share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition and notify HPHA of any changes in income or family composition.

Landlord's Role

The role of the landlord in the voucher program is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program's housing quality standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with HPHA.

Hawai'i Public Housing Authority's Role

HPHA provides a family with the housing assistance that enables the family to seek out suitable housing and HPHA enters into a contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet the owner's obligations under the lease, HPHA has the right to terminate assistance payments. HPHA must also reexamine the family's income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least annually to ensure that it meets minimum housing quality standards.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Role

To cover the cost of the program, HUD provides funds to allow HPHA to make housing assistance payments on behalf of the families. HUD also pays HPHA a fee for the costs of administering the program. When additional funds become available to assist new families, HUD invites HPHAs to submit applications for funds for additional housing vouchers. Applications are then reviewed and funds awarded to the selected HPHAs on a competitive basis. HUD also monitors HPHA administration of the program to ensure program rules are properly followed via the Section 8 Management Assessment Program.
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Section 8 Management Assessment Program

The Section 8 Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) measures the performance of the public housing agencies, including HPHA, that administer the housing choice voucher program in 14 key areas. The 14 indicators of performance show whether HPHAs help eligible families to afford decent rental units at a reasonable subsidy cost as intended by Federal housing legislation.

14 indicators of performance:

  • Proper selection of applications from the housing choice voucher waiting list
  • Sound determination of reasonable rent for each unit leased
  • Establishment of payment standards within the required range of the HUD fair market rent
  • Accurate verification of family income
  • Timely annual reexaminations of family income
  • Correct calculation of the tenant share of the rent and the housing assistance payment
  • Maintenance of a current schedule of allowances fortenant utility cost
  • Ensure units comply with the housing quality standards before families enter into leases and HPHA enters into housing assistance contracts
  • Timely annual housing quality inspections
  • Perform quality control inspections to ensure housing quality
  • Ensure that landlord and tenants promptly correct housing quality deficiencies
  • Ensure that all available housing choice vouchers are used
  • Expand housing choice outside areas of poverty or minority concentration
  • Enroll families in the family self-sufficiency (FSS) program as required and help FSS families achieve increases in employment income
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Housing Choice Voucher Administrative Plan & Policies

The role of the landlord in the voucher program is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program's housing quality standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with HPHA.
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Does HPHA's HCV program cover all the islands?

The HPHA HCV program only covers the island of O‘ahu. However, each county government does administer their own Section 8 HCV program. In addition to HPHA, the City and County of Honolulu offers Section 8 HCV assistance.

You can go to hawaii.gov to obtain information on each counties' Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Is there a separate HCV program for the disabled?

There is only one Housing Choice Voucher Program that HPHA administers. That program encompasses all types of families to include those families who may have a disabled family member.

For more information on fair housing issues for the disabled, see "Fair Housing Issues" section in the FAQs.

I live on a different island and applied for the HPHA HCV program. Can I accept my voucher and stay on that island with my voucher?

No. The applicant/family must live in the PHA's jurisdiction (i.e., Oahu) for at least 12 months before requesting portability, or to move. If neither the head of household, nor the spouse/cohead of an applicant family had a legal residence in the HPHA's jurisdiction at the time of the application, they would need to move to the HPHA's jurisdiction upon voucher issuance.

What is the Rental Supplement Program about and how do I get qualified?

The Rent Supplement Program is a State of Hawaii funded program. The rental supplements help eligible families pay for part of their monthly rent. Families must pay at least 30% of their adjusted family income for rent. The difference between the family contributing rent payment and the total monthly rent, up to a maximum of $500.00 per month, is paid directly to the owner by HPHA. To qualify for this rental assistance program, a family must:

  • Be in a properly sized unit for its family size.
  • Not be receiving financial assistance from the State of Hawaii, Department of Human Services.
  • Provide reasonable assurances that you can pay your rent on time.
  • Not have any outstanding debts owned to HPHA.
  • Must be a legal resident of the State of Hawaii.
  • Must not own or have majority interest in a dwelling unit on the same island on which you seek rent assistance.
  • Must be within the income limits as prescribed in the Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 15, Chapter 184, Rent Supplement Program.