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Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program

About the Program
Program Waiting Lists
Special Programs
Eligibility
Applying for a Section 8 Voucher
Waiting List Information
Waiting List Preferences
Waiting List Status: Placement Date Being Reviewed
Waiting List Pre-Application Form
Reaching the Top of the Waiting List
Initial Application Process
Receiving The Voucher
Voucher Briefing
Briefing Packet
Using the Voucher
Special Needs
Program Fraud
Questions?

About the Program

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, also known as “Section 8”, provides rental assistance to low income individuals or families.

There are two main Section 8 Voucher programs: one for Santa Cruz County and one for City of Hollister (which also includes the City of San Juan Bautista).

Once a family receives a voucher, the family finds its own rentals from homes and apartments on the private market. The family pays about a third of its income in rent to the landlord, and the Housing Authority pays the rest, up to a certain limit, directly to the landlord.

The family and landlord sign a rental agreement or lease provided by the landlord. The family pays the security deposit required by the landlord.

Housing Authority Program Waiting Lists
The following Waiting Lists are currently open:

USDA Farmworker Housing

This program is designed to provide affordable housing to households who earn a substantial portion of their income as farm laborers and who either are citizens of the United States or reside in the United States after being legally admitted for permanent residence.

Resetar Project Based Voucher Waiting List

The Resetar Residential Hotel is an 89 unit supportive and affordable housing project in the heart of downtown Watsonville. There are a total of 52 Project Based units at Resetar, of which 5 units are set aside for formerly homeless veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program. There are 3 one-bedroom units and 49 studio apartment in the Project Based Voucher Program. Residents of Resetar Residential Hotel establish a service plan and receive case-management provided by Abode Services or other service providers.

In the Project Based Voucher program, assistance is associated with a unit, not the tenant. Therefore, applicants reaching the top of the Resetar waiting list will only be eligible to reside at Resetar Residential Hotel at 15 West Lake Avenue in downtown Watsonville.

El Centro Project Based Voucher Waiting List

In the Project Based Voucher program, assistance is associated with a unit, not the tenant. Therefore, applicants reaching the top of the El Centro waiting list will only be eligible to reside at El Centro Residential Apartments (1110 Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz). Only single person households age 60 or above are eligible for these units. El Centro has 45 single room occupancy (SRO) units with a bathroom, small refrigerator, microwave and sink. Each unit has access to a shared kitchen, separate men and women’s showers, and other amenities.

Click here for a flyer with more information about El Centro Residential Apartments.

The following Waiting Lists are currently closed:

Sunrise Senior Apartments

Sunrise Senior Apartments, located at 580 Westside Blvd in Hollister, is being developed by Community Housing and Improvement Systems and Planning Association (CHISPA) for occupancy by low income seniors with a head of household or spouse who is at least 62 years of age or older. There will be a total of 48 project based units at Sunrise Senior Apartments. Five units are designated for formerly homeless veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program, as referred by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This new site based waiting list is for the remaining 43 one-bedroom units. To be added to the Sunrise Senior Apartments waiting list, return a completed pre-application to the Housing Authority between March 5th and 5 pm March 19, 2019.

Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program

The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz has closed the Waiting List for the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program for both the County of Santa Cruz and the Cities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista.

In the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program, participants are issued a voucher and rent with a landlord who agrees to participate in the Section 8 program. The Housing Authority pays a portion of the rent directly to the landlord. The participant pays the difference between the negotiated rent and the amount paid by the Housing Authority to the landlord. This amount can (and in many cases does) exceed 30% of the household’s adjusted income.

Pippin Orchards Apartments

Pippen Orchard Apartments has both project based voucher (PBV) units and non-project based units. In the PBV program, assistance is tied to the unit, not the household. Households must reside in Pippin Orchards Apartments for at least one year before being potentially eligible to transfer assistance. As not all the apartments will be project based, there will be separate waiting list for those units. Households may apply for both waiting lists.

Please contact MidPen with questions you have about Pippin Orchards Apartments: 831-707-2150.

The Pippin Orchard Apartments Wait List closed Tuesday, August 7th at 5 pm.

Servicios de interpretación estan disponibles. Por favor solicite ayuda en la oficina de Midpen.

Merrill Road Apartments

Merrill Road is an affordable housing development consisting of 15 units for very-low income households.

St. Stephens Project Based Voucher (PBV) Waiting List

The complex is developed and operated by MidPen Housing. Occupancy is designated for low income seniors at least 62 years of age. The complex has studio, one and two bedroom apartments. There are a total of 39 project based units at St. Stephens. Five units are designated for formerly homeless veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program, as referred by the Veterans Administration. Five units are designated for Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) eligible persons referred by Health Projects Center. This new site based waiting list is for the remaining 29 units.

Special Voucher Programs

Over time, HUD has awarded the Housing Authority with funding for specific voucher types to serve specific populations. In some instances, these special programs offer vouchers to eligible persons from the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) waiting list. In other instances, vouchers are issued based on referrals from services providers. All special voucher programs that are based on referrals from other agencies are listed and described below, along with information regarding how you can find out more information about accessing these programs.

YOUTH HOMELESS DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance for 4 households

The Housing Authority administers a Permanent Supportive Housing type program which combines rental assistance with supportive services for homeless young adults ages 18-24 who have disabilities.

Referrals for the YHDP program, called New Roots, come from the Encompass Community Service (see https://smartpathscc.org/homeless/ for more information about how to get an assessment) and are supported by Encompass Community Services case management and housing navigation.

For more information, contact Jace Freyman (831) 226-3523

Shelter Plus Care

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance for 40 households

The Housing Authority administers a shelter Plus Care program which combines rental assistance and supportive services for chronically homeless persons.

Referrals for Shelter Plus Care come from the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency/ Homeless Persons’ Health Project (HPHP).

For more information, contact HPHP at 454-2080

Nuevo Sol SROs

11 Units

The Housing Authority administers a Moderate Rehabilitation single room occupancy project for homeless individuals.

Referrals for Nuevo Sol come from the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency/ Homeless Persons’ Health Project (HPHP).

For more information, contact HPHP at 454-2080

Welfare to Work vouchers

24 Vouchers

The Welfare to Work vouchers are for persons participating in the CalWorks Welfare to Work Program. The vouchers are reserved for CalWorks participants. They are intended to be a key part of the strategy to support the efforts of Santa Cruz County families who are working towards self-sufficiency.

Referrals for Welfare to Work vouchers come from the Human Services Department.

For more information, contact Victoria Regan at (831) 454-4913

Family Unification Program – Youth (FUP-Y)

8 Vouchers

The Family Unification Youth vouchers are reserved for youth and young adults who are at least eighteen years of age but not yet twenty-five years of age, who left foster care, or will leave foster care within the next ninety days, and who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless at age sixteen or older. FUP Youth vouchers used are limited to 36 months of housing assistance.

Referrals for FUP-Y vouchers come from Encompass Community Services.

For more information, contact Meg Clark at (831) 226-3537

Family Unification Program (FUP)

115 Vouchers

The Family Unification Program vouchers are reserved for families for which lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in the imminent placement of their child or children in out-of-home care or in the delaying of discharge of a child or children to the
family from out-of-home care.
Referrals for FUP vouchers come from the Human Services Department.

For more information, contact Jessica Scheiner at (831) 454-4088

Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH)

347 Vouchers

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have partnered to create a program for homeless veterans that combines HUD Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs at its medical centers and in the community.

Referrals for vouchers VASH come from the VA.

For more Information, contact Shannon Healer, LCSW at (650) 269-5945

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Eligibility

The Section 8 program serves families with total household incomes up to 80% Area Medium Income (current Income Limits). For eligibility purposes, all persons in the household are considered part of the family regardless of relationship.

Specific eligibility requirements are established by the U.S. Congress and implemented by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Eligibility rules can change at any time, therefore a family’s eligibility is not established until close to the time a Section 8 voucher will be issued.

Once on the Section 8 program, program participants can have income above the income limits until a level of income is reached at which the Housing Authority is no longer paying subsidy on behalf of the family.

Who cannot receive rental assistance?

Federal housing programs do not assist undocumented aliens. Families with both undocumented members and members who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants can receive pro-rated rental assistance which is reduced proportionately by the number of undocumented members.

Registered sex offenders are also barred from receiving rental assistance. Other criminal background can also limit assistance.

Applying for a Section 8 Voucher

When the waiting list is open, families may put their names on the Waiting List by completing a pre-application (see below). As vouchers are given up by families leaving the program, the families on the waiting list are contacted to submit a full application.

Even if a family has a landlord who wants to participate in the voucher program, the family must wait its turn for a voucher by going on the waiting list like all other pre-applicants.

Waiting List Information

The Waiting List is a list of families that have completed a “pre-application” indicating that they are interested in participating in the program.

Applicants who were already on the waiting list prior to the October 2018 waiting list opening will continue to be contacted based on preferences and date of placement. New applicants who apply by 5pm on December 6, 2018 will be given a random “lottery” number. These applicants will be contacted based on preferences and lottery number.

Because there is more demand for assistance than there are vouchers available, there is usually a long wait for assistance, typically several  years. The Housing Authority cannot predict when names will reach the top of the waiting list. The speed at which the waiting list moves depends on how many families leave the program, and the level of funding the Housing Authority receives from HUD. It is impossible to predict when a voucher will be available.

If the family breaks up, the person designated as Head of Household on the pre-application will keep the place on the waiting list. Anyone not living with the Head of Household would need to apply on his or her own by submitting a new pre-application.

Waiting List Preferences

Unless otherwise stated, waiting list preferences apply to the Santa Cruz County Housing Choice Voucher Waiting List. All preferences adopted by the Housing Authority are based on local housing needs and priorities as determined by the Housing Authority.

    1. Live/Work Residency Preference
      The Housing Authority has established a partial live/work residency preference, such that at least 75% of the families selected from the waiting list will either currently live or work in the jurisdiction of the waiting list.
    2. Disabled and Medically Vulnerable Homeless Person (DMV)
      The Housing Authority has adopted a limited waiting list preference of up to 120 vouchers for disabled and medically vulnerable homeless persons. The Housing Matters provides referrals for person who are 1) disabled, 2) medically vulnerable, 3) homeless, and 4) have a case management plan with a provider of housing supportive services.
    3. Disabled Transitioning from Institutions (DTI)
      The Housing Authority has adopted a limited waiting list preference of up to 12 vouchers for disabled person transitioning from institutions into community-based settings, and persons at serious risks of institutionalization. Referrals for this preference are provided by the following agencies: Central Coast Center of Independent Living (CCCIL), Coastline Supportive Living, County Mental Health, Housing Choice Coalition, and San Andreas Regional Center (SARC).
    4. Temporary Measures during Periods of Low Utilization Rate
      During times of low voucher or funding utilization (under 97%), the Housing Authority may utilize the following measures:

      • A.) Lease In-Place Option. This preference will only be applicable to applicants already on the waiting list who currently live in the Housing Authority jurisdiction, reside in a unit that meets HQS standards, with a landlord who is willing to accept a voucher.
      • B.) Eviction Prevention. The Housing Authority may accept direct referrals from the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County (CAB) of families at imminent risk of homelessness due to eviction for economic reasons. The Eviction Prevention preference will be limited to applicants on the HCV waiting list, and the preference will be limited to 24 vouchers.
    5. Mainstream Vouchers for Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities
      The Housing Authority has received 50 Mainstream Non-Elderly Disabled (NED) vouchers. These Mainstream NED Vouchers are for the Housing Authority service area, both Santa Cruz County and the Cities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista. The Mainstream NED Vouchers differ from the original Mainstreams Vouchers in these ways:

        • The person with disabilities doesn’t have to be the head of household or spouse.
        • The person with disabilities does have to be between the ages of 18 and 62.

 Applicants on either the Santa Cruz County or Hollister/San Juan Bautista Section 8 waiting lists may benefit from this waiting list preference. Assistance will be offered to applicants eligible for the preference based on date of preference or lottery number. If the waiting lists do not contain a sufficient number of eligible households, the Housing Authority may open the lists for persons eligible for this preference. Eligible persons include those who are transitioning from institutions, at serious risk of institutionalization, homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Waiting List Status: Placement Date Being Reviewed

Note to developers: this section may be printed for use in funding applications requiring a statement from the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz regarding the number of families on the Waiting Lists.

Below is the status of the Section 8 Waiting Lists.

Santa Cruz County Waiting List
The Waiting list is: Closed
The Housing Authority is currently in the process of updating our waiting list data. Once the update is complete, we will resume providing the number of families on the waiting list.
Full applications are being taken for families who went on the list before: September 2010
(Updated on: August 25, 2020)

Hollister Waiting List
The Waiting List is: Closed
The Housing Authority is currently in the process of updating our waiting list data. Once the update is complete, we will resume providing the number of families on the waiting list.
Full applications are being taken for families who went on the list before: March 2010
(Updated on: December 6, 2018)

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Waiting List Status Form

All Waiting List applicants must notify the Housing Authority within 30 days of any change of address (see below); however, there is no need to inform the Housing Authority about changes in family composition while on the Waiting List. Please use the Waiting List Status form to notify the Housing Authority of any changes to your address while you are on the Waiting List.

IMPORTANT: If a family does not respond when the Housing Authority attempts to make contact at the last known address, the family’s name will be removed from the Waiting List. If the family moves while on the Waiting List, a Waiting List Status form must be submitted within 30 days of the move.

Waiting List Placement Date and Confirmation

Once a Pre-application is received and entered in the Waiting List, the family will receive a Waiting List Confirmation letter notifying the family of its lottery number and confirming that the family has been successfully added to the waiting list. Depending on the volume of applications, it can take up to several months for this confirmation to be sent. Note: if you are not sure if you are on the list and would like to know your status, please complete a Waiting List Status Form. You will be sent a computer-generated copy of the original letter providing confirmation that your Pre-Application was received and you have been added to the waiting list. The confirmation letter will not tell you how long you have to wait.

Reaching the Top of the Waiting List

When the family’s name reaches the top of the Waiting List, a letter is sent asking if the family wants an Initial Application packet. The family must respond to this letter by the due date or its name will be removed from the Waiting List.

Initial Applications are processed when the family submits all requested information and documents. The family can ensure its application is processed sooner by keeping all documents updated and in a safe place ready to be submitted when notified.

Initial Application process

The Initial Application is lengthy and asks for a lot of information. Applicants are encouraged to be as specific and detailed as possible. Program eligibility will be based on the information given by the applicant who will be asked to certify to its truthfulness (see Program Violations and Fraud). The sooner the family provides the Housing Authority with all requested information the sooner the application will be processed.

The Housing Authority will independently verify all information submitted and may be informed of information an applicant has not submitted. If later it is found that the family did not fully inform or comply with the application, the voucher could be terminated and the family could be required to pay the Housing Authority back for any assistance received that it was not entitled to. It is better to over-declare than under-declare information. Housing Authority staff will advise if information does not apply.

The initial application is used to:

  1. Gather information about the family and its income
  2. Determine whether or not the family is eligible for assistance
  3. Calculate approximately how much rent the family will pay
  4. Determine how many bedrooms the family is eligible for

Even after the Initial Application is processed, there can still be long wait before a voucher is available. In most cases, it takes an average of six months from the time you submit an Initial Application to the time you are issued a voucher. However, wait times may vary greatly depending on the rate at which current voucher holders leave the program. Please see the Initial Application Flowchart for a visual overview of the steps in the Initial Application Process with information about average length of time for each step in the process. Please note: federal regulations require that eligibility verifications be no older than 60 days at the time the Voucher is issued. If there are delays in obtaining verifications or in issuing the voucher, information may have to be resubmitted.

Important Reminder about the Initial Application

Note: Make sure the Housing Authority always has a current address for you. If you move, please submit a Waiting List Status form to the Housing Authority immediately. If we you cannot be reached you by mail, your application will be cancelled.

Respond to all Housing Authority deadlines promptly.

The Housing Authority will ask to see original Social Security cards, birth certificates, and photo IDs. Be sure to have these on hand to speed the Initial Application process

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Receiving the Voucher

Once reaching the top of the Waiting List and being declared eligible, there may still be a long wait. The family is responsible keeping the Housing Authority informed of any changes to its income or household composition even after income eligibility has already been established. Additionally, the family is responsible for any security deposit required by a future landlord and should be setting aside funds to pay the security deposit which usually is equal to at least one month’s total rent.

The family should not take steps to rent a unit anticipating receipt of the voucher; this could result in the family being responsible for the entire rent.

When a voucher becomes available, the family will be invited to a “briefing,” where the program rules are explained, and the voucher is issued. The family must agree to the rules and regulations regarding the voucher and receive more information about how the program works including specifics regarding the family’s subsidy amount and the maximum rent that can be paid. There are certain limitations regarding rentals that are covered at the briefing.

Voucher Briefing

A “Voucher Briefing” is required by the federal government before a family can receive its voucher. A briefing lasts about one and a half hours and children are not permitted. Briefings are held in groups of 20 to 40 people.

Families arriving late to the briefing will not be allowed to attend the briefing. The briefing is a pre-set presentation including information the Housing Authority is required by federal regulations to cover or a voucher cannot be issued. If the family is late through no fault of its own, the family will be notified of a future briefing date. If the family misses two briefings, the voucher will be canceled and the family’s name removed from the list.

After Housing Authority staff explains the program requirements and how the program works, time will be spent with families individually to discuss their particular Voucher size and rent subsidy.

Briefing Packet

At the briefing, a briefing packet containing required information and forms will be given to each family.

Using the Voucher

There is a limited amount of time to use a Voucher before it expires, commonly 60 days.

The federal government requires the Housing Authority to ensure that all vouchers are used quickly to assist the maximum number of families. If a family does not move expeditiously to use its voucher, there are thousands of other families on the Waiting List who will. The Housing Authority cannot allow vouchers to go unused; it is important that the family give full attention and effort to looking for a rental that will accept the voucher so that it does not expire.

Leasing in Place

The quickest way to ensure that a voucher is not lost is to “lease in place,” that is, renting from the current landlord if that landlord will accept the Section 8 voucher. Once on the program by using the voucher at its current rental, the family can then take its time to look for another rental without having the voucher expire.’

Finding a Rental

If the family cannot rent its current unit or must find somewhere to live, there are many ways to find a rental unit. These are covered in the voucher briefing.

Once a suitable rental and a willing landlord is found, the family gives the landlord a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) to complete. The RTA is given to the voucher holder at the briefing. Only one RTA is issued at a time. If the rental submitted on the current RTA is not approved, another RTA will be issued. The RTA asks the landlord for information the Housing Authority will need in order to review the rental to see if it meets the program requirements.

The Housing Authority staff will talk with the landlord and, once all is agreed to, an inspection will be scheduled. The rental must meet federal Housing Quality Standards (HQS). For more information, please see HQS Checklist.

The family cannot have a personal financial interest in the property or be a beneficiary; neither can the landlord cannot be a relative of the family except under certain limited conditions for persons with disabilities. The landlord cannot live in the rental unit with the family.

If a rental is not found within the time stated on the voucher, the family must request an extension in writing. It should not be assumed that an extension will be granted.

Special Needs

If you are a person with disabilities and you have special needs related to a Housing Authority program, please see the Special Needs Q&A and the Special Needs section of the Forms page.

Program Fraud

The federal government and the Housing Authority take action against those committing program frauds, whether they are Section 8 participants or landlords. The Housing Authority has established a Program Integrity unit specifically to investigate and take action against those who commit program violations. Please go to this web site’s section on Program Fraud for more information or report fraud.

Questions?

For answers to more of your questions about searching for a place to rent, please see our Questions & Answers page.

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Merrill Road Apartments

THE MERRILL ROAD AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROGRAM

About the Program

The Merrill Road Affordable Housing Program offers high quality, affordable rental housing for families who qualify. Located in an Aptos neighborhood, the Merrill Road Apartments consist of 15 well maintained townhouse style apartments in an attractive landscaped setting.

To learn more about Merrill Road Apartments, please see our brochure.

How to Apply

To apply for the Merrill Road Affordable Housing Program, Click here.

For other Waiting List forms or to notify us of changes to your address, Click here.

Information for Current Participants

For information on Tenant Screening and Leasing a Unit, Click here

If you are a Housing Authority tenant and have questions or need to submit a maintenance request, Click here.

For program forms, Click here.

For information and forms for people with special needs, Click here.

For answers to common questions, please see our Questions and Answers page here.

Si desea una traducción en español, por favor llame al (831)454-9455.

USDA Farmworker Housing

THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE RURAL HOUSING SERVICE (USDA-RHA) FARMWORKER HOUSING PROGRAM

About the Program

The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz owns and manages 70 two and three bedroom units of U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Housing Service (USDA-RHS) in Santa Cruz County at two different sites in and near Watsonville. This program is designed to provide affordable housing to households where at least one household member earns a substantial portion of their income as farm laborers and is either a United States citizen or legal resident.

USDA-RHS tenants pay their rent directly to the Housing Authority at rental rates approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Housing Service.

USDA-RHS units in Santa Cruz County have historically had little tenant turnover and are usually fully occupied. Once on the USDA-RHS Program, households are entitled to stay for as long as they remain program eligible. After initial occupancy, program eligibility is re-determined annually. The family does not take the subsidy with it when it moves and the subsidy is a “flat rent,” that is, it not geared to the family’s income and will not change with a change in income.

How to Apply

To apply for the USDA-RHS Farmworker Housing Program, Click here.

For other Waiting List forms or to notify us of changes to your address, Click here.

Information for Current Participants

For information on Tenant Screening and Leasing a Unit, Click here

If you are a Housing Authority tenant and have questions or need to submit a maintenance request, Click here.

For program forms, Click here.

For information and forms for people with special needs, Click here.

For answers to common questions, please see our Questions and Answers page here.

Equal Housing LogoHandicap Logo

This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at mailto:[email protected].”

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Equal Housing LogoHandicap Logo

Esta institución emplea y funciona en base a igualdad de oportunidad.

Si desea registrar una queja de discriminación con el programa de Derechos Civiles, complete el formulario de Queja de Discriminación del Programa USDA, que hallará en Internet en http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, o en cualquier oficina de USDA , o llame al (866) 632-9992 para solicitar el formulario. Puede también escribir una carta que contenga toda la información requerida en el formulario. Envíenos su formulario de queja completado o su carta por correo al U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, por fax al (202) 690-7442 o por email a [email protected]

Si desea una traducción en español, por favor llame al (831)454-9455.

Low Income Public Housing

Information for Applicants

About the Program
Program Eligibility
How to Apply

INFORMATION FOR CURRENT PARTICIPANTS

How to Pay Rent
Maintenance and Inspections
Pet Policy
Grievance Policy
General Program Forms
Housing Plus Program
Community Service Requirement
Capital Fund Planning
Reporting Program Fraud and Abuse
Information and Forms for People with Special Needs
Smoke Free Housing
Questions?

INFORMATION FOR APPLICANTS

About the Program

The Low Income Public Housing Program (LIPH) is a national rental assistance program funded and monitored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low income families. There are over a million families living in public housing nationally, including over two hundred families living in public housing here in Santa Cruz County.

Participants in LIPH rent a townhouse style apartment owned and managed by the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz. Tenants pay rent directly to the Housing Authority, and may choose to pay either an income based rent (which is equal to approximately 30% of their household income) or a fixed flat rent which is similar to market rent.

LIPH properties are located in small, well designed complexes that blend in with the neighborhood, and are located throughout Santa Cruz County. The units are clean and well-maintained townhouse style apartments with porches or patios, and many are grouped around a central play area. Residents in LIPH units enjoy a quick response to maintenance requests, annual unit inspections to ensure units remain in good shape, and friendly bilingual staff to answer questions and resolve issues. Pets are allowed within certain limitations.

In the LIPH program, the housing assistance is tied to the public housing unit, so families in Low Income Public Housing must remain in one of the Housing Authority’s public housing units to continue to participate in the program and receive housing assistance.

To learn more about the Low Income Public Housing Program and view photos of LIPH properties and units, please see our program brochure.

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Program Eligibility

The Low Income Public Housing Program (LIPH) is limited to low income families, whose household income is less than 80% of the Median Family Income by household size. Income limits are adjusted annually by HUD. While assistance is generally offered on a first come first served basis, (based on the date of application for households that match the size of the vacant unit), the Housing Authority does have a veterans preference for the LIPH program pursuant to the requirements of the California Health and Safety Code, Section 34322.2. This means that qualifying LIPH applicant households that contain at least one current serviceperson, veteran, or surviving spouse of a veteran will advance to the top of the LIPH waiting list. When there is more than one qualifying household with the veterans preference for a given unit size, assistance will be offered based on the date of the application.

The Housing Authority will collect information on the citizenship / immigration status of each household member. The level of assistance provided (and therefore the monthly rent of the household) will be prorated based on the percentage of citizens and legal residents in the household. For example, households where all members are citizens or legal residents will receive full assistance, but a household with two members who are citizens or legal residents and another two members who do not contend to have eligible immigration status would only receive 50% of the level of assistance they would otherwise have received (and therefore they will pay higher rent). Please note that all adults must provide a United States government issued photo identification card and a Social Security card in order for the Housing Authority to conduct the tenant screening described below. For more information see our webpage on citizenship and immigration requirements.

In addition to income and citizenship / immigration eligibility requirements, the Housing Authority conducts careful screening of applications for tenants in the LIPH program. Screening for LIPH tenants includes a criminal background check (including registered sex offender status), a review of previous landlord references, a credit check, and a housekeeping inspection of your current home.

Eligibility of applicants is not determined until applicants reach the top of the waiting list. At that time, applicants will be asked to provide documentation of income, assets, identity, Social Security Number, citizenship or immigration status, and any other information necessary to determine program eligibility.

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How to Apply

There are many more low-income families interested in public housing than there are public housing units available. Therefore, the Housing Authority maintains a waiting list for assistance. The wait for assistance can be very long, typically several years. To add your name, see our Low Income Public Housing waiting list.

When vacancies occur, the Housing Authority must fill the vacancy with a family that has the right number of household members to match the vacant unit. The Housing Authority will process applications of appropriately sized families for each vacancy in the order received. Therefore, there will be differences in the waiting time depending on the size of the unit your family is waiting for, and depending on how many LIPH units of that size exist within the County.

If you are already on the waiting list, please understand that your wait for assistance may be long. We cannot predict when your name will reach the top of the Waiting List, as it depends on when current program participants leave the program, the size of units that become available, and the household size of applicants approaching the top of the Waiting List. It is typical for families to wait years for housing assistance.

For more information about the number of families waiting for assistance, see our waiting list statistics. For other Waiting List forms or to notify us of changes to your address, see our waiting list forms.

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Information for Current Participants

The Housing Authority is pleased to announce that we are converting our Low Income Public Housing Program into a Section 8 Voucher Program, allowing public housing residents the ability to keep the affordable unit where they are currently living, or to transfer their assistance to another unit in the private market if they choose to do so.  HUD has provided 234 Tenant Protection Section 8 Vouchers to allow current public housing residents the mobility of a voucher! We expect the conversion to be completed by January 1, 2021. Each current public housing resident will have a one-on-one Section 8 eligibility and intake appointment with a Housing Authority Specialist over the phone to provide more information and to answer any questions. Please see the link to the announcement letter that was sent to each family on 9/16/2020 for more information. The Housing Authority is committed to ensuring each family may continue to remain in their unit paying an affordable income-based rent.

Announcement Letter

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La Autoridad de Viviendas se complace en anunciar que convertiremos nuestro Programa de Viviendas Públicas de Bajos Ingresos a un Programa de Comprobante de la Sección 8, permitiendo que los residentes de viviendas públicas tengan la posibilidad de permanecer en su vivienda de bajo costo donde residen actualmente o transferir su asistencia a otra unidad en el mercado de rentas privado si así lo desean. ¡HUD ha proporcionado 234 Comprobantes de la Sección 8 de Protección del Inquilino para permitirle a los residentes de viviendas públicas la movilidad de un comprobante! Esperamos que la conversión se haya completado para el 1 de enero de 2021. Cada residente de vivienda pública tendrá una cita telefónica de eligibilidad para la sección 8 y de admisión con un Especialista de la Autoridad de Viviendas para proveerle más información y contestar sus preguntas.  Por favor vea el enlace a la carta de notificación que fue enviada a cada familia el 9/16/20 para tener más información. La Autoridad de Vivienda está comprometida en asegurar que cada familia pueda permanecer en su unidad pagando una renta económica basada en sus ingresos.

Carta de Notificación

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To ensure our compliance with all required HUD regulations, provide transparency of program administration, and to promote the safety of all LIPH tenants, policies have been established that all tenants must follow. Many of these polices are provided in the following two documents;

LIPH Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy, and the LIPH rental agreement. Additional information for LIPH program participants is provided below.

How to Pay Rent
Maintenance and Inspections
Pet Policy
Grievance Policy
General Program Forms
Housing Plus Program
Community Service Requirement
Capital Fund Planning
Reporting Program Fraud and Abuse
Information and Forms for People with Special Needs
Smoke Free Housing
Questions?

How to Pay Rent

The Housing Authority sends a monthly statement to each tenant indicating the rent owed along with any other charges or balances due.

Rent is due and payable on the first (1st) day of each month. Rent is considered late if it is not received by 5:00 pm on the fifth (5th). Habitual late payment of rent will result in eviction. Rent payments must be in the form of a check or money order only, cash will not be accepted. Payments may be mailed to the Housing Authority’s main office or placed in the drop box in our lobby or outside our building to the right of the main entrance. LIPH tenants should place payment in an envelope and indicate Unit Address and Head of Household Name to ensure that the Housing Authority credits the right account.

South County tenants may bring rent payments to the Watsonville branch of Santa Cruz County Bank. All South County tenants should have received a rent coupon book that may be used to deliver rent payments to the bank. The coupons identify a particular unit so that the Housing Authority can credit the correct account. Tenants may use only one coupon per month to make rent payments. Rent payments will not be accepted at the bank without your individual coupon.

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Maintenance and Inspections

Please report all maintenance problems immediately. For emergencies, including major leaks, floods, and broken windows or doors, call the Housing Authority promptly at our 24 hour emergency maintenance line at (831) 427-8206.

If your maintenance problem is not an emergency, please submit your maintenance request online, or submit your request in writing to the Housing Authority main office.

In addition to maintenance repairs that are conducted on an as needed basis, each LIPH unit will be inspected once a year by a Housing Authority inspector. From time to time, units may also be inspected by an inspector from the Department of Housing and Urban Development or another agency. Tenants will receive advance written notice before all inspections. For more information, see our Inspections Q&A.

Pet Policy

The Housing Authority permits tenants to own pets in accordance with our Pet Policy. You can download a Pet Application here.

LIPH Housing Plus Program

The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz administers a Housing Plus Program to help families obtain employment that will lead to economic independence and self-sufficiency. The Housing Plus program has a program size of 25 slots, available on a first come first served basis to all families currently residing in public housing. For information, see our webpage about the Housing Plus Program.

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Community Service Requirement

All adult members of LIPH households must complete a minimum of 8 hours per month of community service or self-sufficiency activities unless they meet the exemption criteria listed below.

Community service activities may be completed at any agency that provides activities that are a public benefit, and that serve to improve the quality of life, enhance resident self-sufficiency, or increase resident self- responsibility in the community. Political activities may not be counted as community service. Example of eligible community services includes, but is not limited to: schools, hospitals, local community, non-profit agencies, homeless shelters, recreation centers, senior centers, food banks. These are listed as suggestions; it is the tenants’ choice where they perform their community services. Economic self-sufficiency activities include job training, employment counseling, work placement, basic skills training, education (junior college, college), English proficiency, workfare, financial or household management, apprenticeship, and any program necessary to ready a participant for work (including a substance abuse or mental health treatment program), or other work activities.

Each adult who is required to to complete community service or self sufficiency activities must document their hours on a timesheet which will be reviewed each year at the time of annual re-examination.

Adults who meet any of the following categories are exempt from this requirement.

  • Engaged in work, education, or job training for at least 8 hours per month
  • Age 62 or older
  • Blind or disabled
  • Caregiver to a family member who is blind or disabled

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Capital Fund Planning

The Housing Authority receives funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to perform long-term upgrades to its Low Income Public Housing sites. If you are a low income public housing resident and you have suggestions for upgrades you would like to see at your complex, please send us a letter or an email and be sure to include your name, address, and phone number.

Reporting Program Fraud and Abuse

The federal government and the Housing Authority take action against those committing program fraud. The Housing Authority has established a Program Integrity unit specifically to investigate and take action against those who commit program violations. Please go to this web site’s section on Program Fraud for more information or to report fraud.

Information and Forms for People with Special Needs

If you are a person with disabilities and you have special needs related to a Housing Authority program, please see the Special Needs Q&A and the Special Needs section of the Forms page.

Smoke Free Housing

All LIPH properties are smoke free both inside all buildings and up to 25 feet from all buildings on public housing grounds. A smoke free environment offers documented health benefits of smoke free environments, visit www.smokefree.gov

Questions?

For answers to more of your questions about searching for a place to rent, please see our Questions & Answers page.