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RHA Opens Waiting List for Section 8 Vouchers

The Rochester Housing Authority’s waiting list for new applicants for Section 8 housing has opened and runs through Dec. 22.

Applications for the waiting list to what officially is called the Housing Choice Voucher Program are accepted 12:01 a.m. Dec. 9 to 11:59 p.m. Dec. 22.

Applications during the two-week can be submitted only through Rochester Housing Authority’s website at www.rochesterhousing.org. Peoole unable to use the website can receive help through partner agencies by calling RHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Waiting List call center at (585) 697-6206 or emailing waitinglist@rochesterhousing.org.

Once the application period ends at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 22, applications will go through random selection. Selected applicants will be notified by mail within 90 days and placed on the waiting list immediately. Those that are not selected for the program will also be notified within 90 days of their application being submitted.

Eligibility is determined by RHA and is based on family size and total annual gross income. Eligible families cannot exceed the 50% of the median income for the Rochester area.

Eligible families must be U.S. citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. RHA will also examine the criminal background and prior Section 8 history of any adult member of the household.

The rental assistance program, which uses funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), helps subsidize the cost of housing for low-income families and individuals who meet eligibility requirements. Assistance is tenant-based, meaning families can live in a qualifying rental unit of their choosing anywhere within the RHA jurisdiction or, if the family is eligible, they are able to “port” their voucher and move anywhere in the country where vouchers are utilized. 

For a unit to qualify for the program, the rent must be reasonable in comparison to other similar unassisted units in the area. The unit must also pass a quality inspection and maintain the required standards throughout the term of the RHA Housing Assistance Payment contract. A family will typically pay 30 to 40% of their monthly income (rent plus utilities). RHA will enter into a contract with the owner to pay the remaining balance.

In 2016, RHA enacted a sub-committee to review the process for the waiting list and define areas for improvement, such as allowing new participants to be accepted into the program at the same time a current participant exits, keeping the waiting list numbers low. The changes were implemented that same year, the last time the list was open for applications, to provide more efficient, customer-centered approach that would help more people who on their path to self-sufficiency. The list has reopened in three years. Previous openings occurred once in a decade.

RHA is assisting more than 9,000 households using Section 8 vouchers. Rochester has more people living at less than half the federal poverty level than any other similarly sized city in the U.S., according to data from the Rochester Area Community Foundation. Each time the list opens, an average of 15,000 t0 22,000 applications are received.

RHA was established in 1955 as an independent public corporation by New York State Public Housing Law. RHA serves more than 26,000 lower-income families, seniors and disabled residents and program participants in the five-county Greater Rochester area. Approximately 20% of those reside in the more than 2,400 RHA public housing units, while others receive assistance in the form of voucher or certificate programs that help them afford eligible, private housing.