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Family Eligibility and Selection - Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions

 -   What are the WtW housing voucher program eligibility requirements?

 -   Must WtW voucher families be selected from the PHA's Section 8 waiting list?

 -   Can PHAs go directly to the local TANF agency to recruit families who are eligible to participate in the WtW program without opening their waiting lists?

 -   Does the fact that a family is receiving Food Stamps or Medicaid, but is not receiving a cash TANF benefit, make them eligible to receive a WtW voucher, assuming they meet all other eligibility requirements?

 -   What is the role of the TANF agency in identifying and determining eligibility of families to receive WtW vouchers?

 -   Must a family be recommended by the local TANF agency before it can be considered eligible?

 -   How should a PHA determine eligibility of applicants that have never received TANF without having the client undergo the eligibility process of the local TANF administrating agency?

 -   Can PHAs move Section 8 families to the WtW voucher program if they meet the program's criteria? Doing so would reduce the number of families on the Section 8 waiting list while increasing WtW voucher participation.

 -   In terms of eligibility, does "preceding two years" mean from the date of the NOFA (January 28, 1997) or from this point forward? (This would make a big difference because the welfare roles have declined dramatically since March 1997.)

 -   If a family's Section 8 assistance was terminated because the family owed money to the PHA, can the PHA issue the family a WtW voucher, if it is otherwise eligible for a WtW voucher?

 -   Can a family qualify for WtW voucher assistance if the single parent head of household is receiving disability benefits and unable to work?

 -   If the head of a single parent, WtW voucher family becomes disabled and is unable to work, what happens?

 -   Will HUD establish guidelines regarding the development of selection criteria, other than those provided in the NOFA?

 -   What kind of issues should PHAs consider when developing selection criteria? Specifically, how do you determine that housing assistance is critical to obtaining or retaining employment? Is being a TANF-eligible family enough?

 -   Can a PHA modify the selection criteria it included in its WtW application? Is HUD approval required?

 -   Is it sufficient for a PHA to obtain a certification from the TANF provider and/or supportive service provider stating that housing is critical to a family's ability to obtain or retain employment?

Browse Answers

What are the WtW Housing Voucher Program Eligibility Requirements?

To be eligible to receive a WtW voucher, a family must meet all of the following requirements:

  • The family must not already be receiving tenant-based assistance under Section 8 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937. Public housing families, families living in Section 8 project-based units, and families receiving time-limited rental assistance under the HOME program or under a state or local initiative are eligible to participate as long as they also meet all other WtW voucher program eligibility requirements.

  • The family must meet all eligibility requirements for the Section 8 housing choice voucher program.

  • When initially selected, the family must fit into one of the following TANF-related categories:

    1. Family is eligible to receive assistance or services funded by TANF;
    2. Family is currently receiving assistance or services funded by TANF; or
    3. Family has received assistance or services funded by TANF within the last two years.

  • Section 8 tenant-based assistance must be critical to the family's ability to obtain or retain employment.

Must WtW Voucher Families be Selected from the PHA's Section 8 Waiting List?

Families selected by a PHA to participate in the WtW voucher program must be on the waiting list used by the PHA for its tenant-based Section 8 program. For WtW programs administered by IHAs/TDHEs, the families must either be on the rental or homeownership waiting list of the IHA/TDHE. If a PHA's waiting list is closed, the PHA cannot add individuals to its waiting list, but can use referrals to identify families that are already on its waiting list. As long as the Section 8 waiting list is open, a PHA can accept referrals of families that may be eligible for the WtW voucher program. However, If the PHA's Section 8 waiting list is open only to a specified population group, such as families currently receiving TANF assistance or services, the PHA may only accept referrals of families that meet the specified criteria.

Can PHAs go Directly to the Local TANF Agency to Recruit Families Who are Eligible to Participate in the WtW Program Without Opening their Waiting Lists?

If a PHA's waiting list is closed, the PHA cannot add individuals to its waiting list, but can use referrals to identify families that are already on its waiting list.

As long as the Section 8 waiting list is open, a PHA can accept referrals of families that may be eligible for the WtW voucher program. However, if the PHA's Section 8 waiting list is open only to a specified population group, such as families currently receiving TANF assistance or services, the PHA may only accept referrals of families that meet the specified criteria. A referred family would be required to apply and, if eligible, the family's name would be placed on the PHA's waiting list. Families must be selected from the waiting list for participation in the WtW program in accordance with policies in the PHA's administrative plan.

Does the fact that a family is receiving Food Stamps or Medicaid, but is not receiving a cash TANF benefit, make them eligible to receive a WtW voucher, assuming they meet all other eligibility requirements?

Receipt of Food Stamps or Medicaid does not necessarily qualify an applicant to receive a WtW housing voucher because Food Stamps and Medicaid are not TANF-funded services. (Food Stamps is a Department of Agriculture program and Medicaid is a Health and Human Services program that is separate from TANF.) For instance, there are families that receive Food Stamps or Medicaid that have never received, and are not eligible for TANF cash assistance or services. These families would, therefore, not be eligible for WtW vouchers.

However, if the TANF agency refers the family that receives Food Stamps or Medicaid and/or the assistance is being administered through the TANF agency, the family would meet the TANF eligibility criteria. It is also possible that the family receiving Food Stamps or Medicaid also received a TANF benefit within the last two years, which would make them eligible for the program. The PHA must ensure that each family selected to receive a WtW housing voucher meets the program's TANF eligibility requirements established by Congress.

What is the Role of the TANF Agency in Identifying and Determining Eligibility of Families to Receive WtW Vouchers?

PHAs must work closely with their local TANF agency to:

  • Identify the target population that the program will serve;

  • Develop and implement outreach strategies to market the program to one or more of the TANF-eligible populations that their program will serve (is eligible to receive TANF, is currently receiving TANF, or received TANF within the last two years); and

  • Establish a process and clarify related roles and responsibilities for determining and verifying TANF eligibility.

Must a Family be Recommended by the Local TANF Agency Before it Can be Considered Eligible?

No. However, the PHA must work with the TANF agency to verify that the family is either eligible to receive, is currently receiving, or has received TANF assistance or TANF-funded services within the last two years. The TANF agency may also be in the best position to determine whether tenant-based rental assistance is critical to the family's ability to obtain or retain employment.

How Should a PHA Determine Eligibility of Applicants that Have Never Received TANF Without Having the Client Undergo the Eligibility Process of the Local TANF Administrating Agency?

Because the determination of eligibility for this group of families will be more difficult than for the other TANF-eligible categories, many PHAs will choose to serve other TANF-eligible families first. If a PHA is targeting its program to families that are TANF-eligible, but have never received TANF, the PHA must work closely with their TANF agency to develop a workable and efficient procedure. Depending upon the partnership arrangement, the local TANF agency may conduct this verification, or the local TANF agency can document basic TANF eligibility requirements and train PHA staff to verify TANF eligibility in-house. A successful PHA-TANF partnership should be able to design a streamlined verification process that meets WtW voucher program requirements without requiring the TANF agency to initiate, and the family to undergo, a long and arduous eligibility process.

Can PHAs Move Current Section 8 Families to the WtW Voucher Program if they Meet the Program's Criteria? Doing so would Reduce the Number of Families on the Section 8 Waiting List while Increasing WtW Voucher Participation.

No, the HUD appropriations language for the WtW voucher funding prohibits families that are already receiving Section 8 tenant-based assistance from participating in the WtW housing voucher program. However, families being assisted with Section 8 project-based assistance may qualify for assistance under the WtW voucher program.

In Terms of Eligibility, Does "Preceding Two Years" Mean from the Date of the NOFA (January 28, 1997) or from this Point Forward? (This would Make a Big Difference Because the Welfare Roles have Declined Dramatically since March 1997.)

"Preceding two years" means two years from the present (rolling basis).

If a family's Section 8 assistance was terminated because the family owed money to the PHA, can the PHA issue the family a WtW voucher, if it is otherwise eligible for a WtW voucher?

A PHA's administrative plan policies for its tenant-based Section 8 program will determine whether the debt must be paid in full before a voucher can be issued to the family. Although a PHA may revise existing policy to better address its local WtW Housing Voucher Program objectives, the same policies for repayment of debt must apply to all Section 8 voucher families. For example, if the PHA's policy for its voucher program applicants is that debt must be paid in full before a voucher will be issued to a family, the PHA could not adopt a policy applicable only to its WtW families allowing for issuance of a WtW voucher to an eligible family that has entered into repayment agreement with the PHA but not paid its debt in full.

Can a family qualify for WtW voucher assistance if the single parent head of household is receiving disability benefits and unable to work?

The WtW voucher program is intended to target families in the TANF-eligible categories established by Congress that need housing assistance in order to obtain or retain employment. If no adult family member is able to work, the family would not qualify for a WtW voucher, but the family can seek assistance through the regular housing choice voucher program.

If the head of a single parent, WtW voucher family becomes disabled and is unable to work, what happens?

If the PHA is unable to issue a replacement voucher under its regular program due to lack of availability, is the family maintained as a WtW family or is assistance terminated?

If the head of a single parent, WtW voucher family becomes disabled and is no longer able to work, the family's Section 8 assistance should not be terminated. Instead, the PHA should switch the family to a regular housing choice voucher as soon as one becomes available so that the PHA can make the WtW voucher available to a WtW voucher-eligible family from its waiting list.

Will HUD establish guidelines regarding the development of selection criteria, other than those provided in the NOFA?

HUD does not plan to provide detailed guidance on how housing agencies are to develop selection criteria for the WtW Voucher Program. As a PHA develops the specific criteria it will use to determine which eligible families will receive WtW vouchers, HUD expects each PHA to consider the needs and resources in its local community as well as the basic requirements of the program, which were stated in the WtW Housing Voucher NOFA.

What kind of issues should PHAs consider when developing selection criteria? Specifically, how do you determine that housing assistance is critical to obtaining or retaining employment? Is being a TANF-eligible family enough?

Being a TANF-eligible family is not enough. PHAs need to develop selection criteria that identify those families for whom housing assistance is critical to obtaining or retaining employment. Some possible examples are families with long and difficult commutes, families whose current housing in not easily accessible to public transportation or necessary support services, and families with extremely high rent burdens. Developing appropriate selection criteria requires that the PHA and its partners understand the objectives of the WtW voucher program that were set forth in the January 28, 1999 WtW Housing Voucher NOFA, as well as the housing needs of their local community and the target population they intend to serve.

Can a PHA modify the selection criteria it included in its WtW application? Is HUD approval required?

HUD encourages PHAs to review and modify, as needed, the criteria they use to select from the pool of WtW voucher-eligible families. Selecting eligible families for whom affordable housing is a critical factor to obtain or retain employment is essential to demonstrate program success. As long as the changes support the objectives of the program and are reflected in the PHA's administrative plan, PHAs may implement these changes without seeking HUD approval.

Is it sufficient for a PHA to obtain a certification from the TANF provider and/or supportive service provider stating that housing is critical to a family's ability to obtain or retain employment?

It is the responsibility of the PHA to assure that the WtW vouchers are provided to eligible families whose ability to obtain and retain employment will be greatly strengthened by tenant-based rental assistance. HUD urges each PHA to work with its partners to develop the specific criteria that will be used in its program. In some cases, it will be appropriate for a TANF provider and/or supportive service provider to make the determination that housing is critical to the family's employment. Ultimately, WHO makes the determination of need is not as important as HOW the determination is made and documented.

PHAs may find it administratively useful to develop a certification form that can be completed when a WtW voucher is issued to a family. The certification form can clearly state the PHA's WtW voucher selection criteria, including those related to critical housing need. PHA or partner staff can then indicate which criteria the family meets and include any supporting documentation or verification.

 
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