Housing Choice Voucher

hcvHousing Choice Voucher (HCV)

The housing choice voucher program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.

The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.

A participant that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the participant’s choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. This unit may include the participant’s present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety.

A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the PHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. Under certain circumstances, if authorized by the PHA, a family may use its voucher to purchase a modest home.

Download Application (English)
Download Application (Spanish)


Eligibility for a voucher is determined by total annual gross income and family size and is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status.  Families that have one eligible citizen in the household can qualify for housing assistance.  This family member does not need to be head of household or co-head for the family to qualify.

During the application process, Mid-Columbia Housing Authority will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition.

Eligibility and amount of housing assistance will then be determined through a verification process with other agencies, employers, and bank information.

Financial Assistance


STEP ONE Application: You complete an application.  If you are determined eligible, you will be notified by mail and your name will be placed on a waiting list for your area according to the date of your application

STEP TWO Certification:  When your name comes to the top of the waiting list we will verify income eligibility.  You will attend a briefing and you will receive your voucher.

STEP THREE Housing Selection:  Under the Housing Choice Voucher Program you have sixty days to locate suitable housing anywhere in the 5-County Region which includes Wasco, Sherman and Hood River Counties in Oregon; Skamania and Klickitat Counties in Washington.

The housing assistance is designed to help individuals obtain adequate non-luxury housing.  The dwelling unit can be a single family home, an apartment, a duplex, or even a mobile home.

There are three conditions for locating a home:  

  1. The place you choose must be in good condition
  2. The rent must be reasonable.
  3. It must be within the payment standard for the bedroom size assigned to the family.

STEP FOUR Negotiation:  You come to an agreement with the landlord on the terms of the lease.

STEP FIVE Review:  The Mid-Columbia Housing Authority will inspect the dwelling to ensure it passes Housing Quality Standards.


1.  What is the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program?

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program provides rental assistance to low-income households for safe and quality housing at privately-owned or Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation properties.  Participants pay 30 to 40% of their gross annual income towards rent and utilities then MCHA pays the difference up to the voucher amount.

A rental unit must pass an inspection by Mid-Columbia Housing Authority certifying it meets health and safety standards.  Then a monthly housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by Mid-Columbia Housing Authority on behalf of the voucher recipient. Any difference between the actual monthly rent amount and the voucher value is paid by the renter.

2.  Who is ineligible for Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV)?

Some applicants may be denied for the following reasons:

  • You or a member of your household has an outstanding debt owed to any housing authority.
  • You or a member of your household has been evicted from public housing within the last three years.
  • You or a member of your household has not fulfilled family obligations during participation in the Housing Choice Voucher program within the past five years.
  • You or a member of your household has engaged in abusive or violent behavior or threats toward housing authority personnel.
  • You or a member of your household has committed fraud, bribery, or any criminal act in connection with any federal housing program.
  • You or a member of your household has engaged in drug-related or violent criminal activity during the past five years.

The following are not eligible to receive vouchers under any circumstances:

  • You or a household member is a registered sex offender.
  • You or a household member has been convicted of manufacturing or trafficking any controlled substance while living in federally-assisted housing.

3.  How Many Housing Choice Vouchers are Available?  Is There a Waiting List? When Can I Apply?

The number of vouchers available varies depending on federal funding.  Because the demand for vouchers is far greater than the supply, Mid-Columbia Housing Authority maintains a waiting list. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Waiting List is open year round.

4.  How Can I Find a Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) Rental?

Any rental unit on the private market is eligible as long as it meets the program rent limits and Housing Quality Standards. Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation owns properties that may be available to Housing Choice Voucher holders. View available Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation property listings on our Property Listings Page.

Prior to move in, the home you choose will need to pass a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Inspection to ensure that the home is safe and sanitary. Your home will also be inspected annually to make sure these standards are being maintained.


Ask An Expert