FAQ's for Voucher Holders

Once I get a voucher, how much time do I have to find an apartment?
In the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, participants have (60-days) to find suitable housing.

Where can I use my voucher?
If you lived within the Jurisdiction of Westbrook Housing when you first applied for a voucher, then you can move anywhere in the United States that is served by a Housing Authority. If you did not live within the Jurisdiction at the time of your original application for a voucher, then you must find a rental unit within the Jurisdiction for at least a year.

How much do I pay for rent?
Your portion of the rent and utilities is at least 30% of your household income.

How is my income verified?
Westbrook Housing staff will ask the Head of the Household to declare all of the family income; that income will verified with your employer or the Enterprise Income Verification (EIV) system which is a database containing information shared by Department of Labor.

What deductions are allowed?

  • $480 allowance is deducted from your gross monthly income for each household member who is under 18 years of age or is disabled or a full-time student.
  • $400 allowance for any elderly family (age 62 or older or disabled).
  • Medical expenses in excess of 3% of annual family income are allowed for persons with disabilities and elderly.
  • Reasonable child care expenses necessary to enable you or another household member to be employed or to advance his/her education.

How is my share of rent calculated?
The income from all members of the family are added together, allowances are then deducted, this is called your adjusted income.  Your portion of rent and utilities will be at least 30% of your adjusted income. The contract rent and tenant paid utilities are compared to the Payment Standard (the maximum benefit allowed by the housing agency).  If the contract rent and tenant paid utilities are within the Payment Standard, 30% of your adjusted income will be your Tenant Rent.   If the rent and utilities are more than the Payment Standard, this is called “overage”, the voucher holder will pay the Tenant Rent plus the “overage”.  Utility Allowance is the term given to tenant paid utilities, this amount is deducted from the Tenant Rent for any tenant paid utilities. They are based on a conservative use of the utility, not the actual amount paid by the tenant. Utility allowance charts are updated annually.

Will Section 8 help pay my security deposit?
No. You are responsible for paying the security deposit.  Click here for information on how to ensure the return of your security deposit.

What are the requirements for a Section 8 apartment?

  • The building must pass a Housing Quality Standard inspection (see below).
  • The rent must be reasonable. The rent that the landlord is asking is called the contract rent; this rent must be reasonable. The rent reasonable test is based on rents charged for similar apartments in the area.
  • The rent must be affordable. A Payment Standard is set by Westbrook Housing for all unit types. If the rent plus utilities is at or below the Payment Standard, the voucher holder will pay 30% of their household income. At the initial lease-up, if the rent is more than the Payment Standard, the voucher holder will be allowed to pay up to an extra 10% of their household income toward the rent. A rent higher than the Payment Standard may be too expensive for the program. Contact a Program Officer for assistance in determining affordability.

Are there building standards the apartment must meet?
Housing Quality Standards (HQS) are the standards HUD set for Section 8 housing units. For more information, read A Good Place to Live.

How often are housing inspections required?
An inspection must be completed before you move into a unit, and then annually.

When should household income or membership changes be reported?
Any change in income or family composition must be reported to Westbrook Housing in writing within 10 days of the change.  You can provide a letter explaining the change or you may use the Income Change Form.  If you need assistance completing the Income Change Form or have questions, call your program officer at (207) 854-9779.

What are my obligations?
You must:

  • Report all household income and assets and changes in household members.
  • Permit inspection of your home after reasonable notice.
  • Give Westbrook Housing and the owner at least 30 days written notice, if you plan to move.
  • Not sublet or lease any part of your unit.
  • Not be involved in drug-related or violent criminal activities.
  • Not allow anyone who is not a member of your household to use your address to receive mail, register vehicles, etc.
  • Follow the terms of your lease

Can I lose my rental assistance?
Yes, below is a list of some common reasons that families lose their rental assistance:

  • Allowing unauthorized people to live in the unit
  • Failure to report all changes in income or to provide the information required by Westbrook Housing.
  • Becoming involved in drug-related or violent criminal activities.
  • Repeated violation of the terms of a lease.
  • Missing the annual recertification appointment
  • Missing the HQS inspection appointment

When can I move?

  • After the initial term of your lease.
  • Call your Program Officer for more information about moving.

What do I do when something needs to be repaired?
Maintenance issues should be reported to the owner or property manager.  If the problem is not corrected in a prompt or satisfactory manner, notify the owner or property manager, in writing, and provide a copy of the notice to Westbrook Housing for possible action.