Frequently Asked Questions

TECHNICAL GUIDANCE: The Section 8 program regulations are at 24 CFR Part 983. Additional information about the Section 8 program can be found by visiting the Section 8 program web pages at the HUD website.

When will the Section 8 waiting list reopen?

The Indianapolis Housing Agency's Section 8 waiting list is closed.  We are now processing the randomly selected applications from our 2016 Lottery opening, which concluded on September 15, 2016.  Future waitlist openings will be publicly announced in advance through the usual media outlets and on Indyhousing.org.

How does Section 8 differ from Public Housing? How does it fit into the IHA mission?

Public Housing communities are owned and operated by Indianapolis Housing Agency (IHA) and Public Housing tenants rent directly from IHA. Section 8 tenants, however, rent from private property owners and applicable rental assistance is provided by IHA through its HCV program. The rental properties may be apartments, town homes, detached single family homes, duplexes, or even mobile homes. Section 8 Program participants are issued vouchers guaranteeing the property owner that Section 8 will pay a certain portion of the tenant's rent. The amount paid will differ from tenant to tenant depending on family size and income. The program participant and owner execute a lease, just as the property owner would do with any other renter who does not receive assistance. However, Section 8 also executes a contract with the owner specifying the amount Section 8 will pay toward the rent.

What does it take to qualify for Section 8?

Section 8 participants must fall into the "Very Low Income" or "Low Income" category as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. At present, a family of four in Marion County can have a total income of up to $32,150 a year to be considered Very Low Income, or up to $51,450 to be considered Low Income. These figures (effective July 2014) are based on the median family income for Marion County as designated by HUD. The participant’s portion of the rent cannot exceed 40% (percent) of the family's adjusted monthly income during their initial year under lease. Criminal History checks are conducted on all applicants and household members 18 years or older. The HUD One Strike policy prohibits admissions of applicants for three years if any household member was evicted from federally assisted housing for drug related criminal activity. The three year period begins on the date of eviction. In addition participants' criminal history is reviewed for violent or drug-related offenses or sexual offenses against minors, as determined by police reports obtained through IHA's Public Safety Department. Persons convicted and subject to lifetime registration as a sex offender with the State will not be considered for assistance. Section 8 does not check applicants' rental histories but strongly encourages property owners to do so. A property owner may refuse an applicant based on his/her past history as a renter (including credit checks and reports of property damage or disruptive behavior), just as with any other rental applicant.

How does a Section 8 participant find places to rent?

All new Section 8 participants must attend a briefing at IHA in order to receive their vouchers. Availability listings (an information listing available housing units, reported by Landlords seeking clients to rent their units) can be obtained at indyhousingnow.org or by calling (toll free) 1-877-428-8844. The service offers searches by location, size, type, desired rent range, etc. The website lists affordable rentals, Section 8 rentals, tax credit properties, and special needs housing. Families are also encouraged to use other means of seeking housing throughout Marion County. Checking newspaper ads is one example; many apartment complexes include "Section 8 Welcome" in the wording of their ads.

How are participants assured of good quality housing?

We can't emphasize strongly enough that participants should see the property they are planning to rent before signing anything. We encourage them to ask neighbors and business owners about the area and to ask for references to determine owner/landlord history, and to keep in mind they will not be permitted to move for at least a year after using their Section 8 voucher (except for safety reasons). The Section 8 Inspections Department performs Housing Quality Standard Inspections. Prior to move-in, the inspectors must check the unit against HUD guidelines to ensure that it will be a safe, sanitary, decent place to live. If maintenance problems occur that compromise the participant’s safety, and the owner will not make repairs, Section 8 payments to the owner can be withheld until he or she complies with HUD requirements. If the owner fails to comply, the contract between IHA and the owner will be terminated, thus terminating the lease between the participant and the owner. The family will be allowed to seek acceptable housing elsewhere.

When do tenant re-examinations occur and when can rent be increased?
  1. Annual re-examinations are completed yearly in order to update the program participant’s income, household composition, assets and deductions. This process must be completed 90 to 120 days prior to the expiration of their initial lease and contract date.
  2. Interim re-examinations are completed when the family reports a change in income, composition assets, or deductions outside of the recertification period. When a change is made to the family's rent, the owner is mailed an addendum to the lease stating the rent change and its effective date.
  3. Requests for Rent Increases should be requested 120 days prior to the anniversary date. Rent increases cannot be requested to be effective prior to the initial 12 months of the initial lease.
When Can IHA Terminate Assistance?

If an owner violates the housing assistance payment (HAP) contract, IHA may suspend payments and will investigate the situation to determine if the contract should be terminated. IHA will terminate contracts that are under abatement at the earlier of (a) the family's move from the unit or (b) six months after the last HAP was made. Owners can be barred from the program for a serious breach of contract as determined by HUD. The owner can terminate tenancy for any reason permitted under the lease or lease addendum. Owners may terminate for serious or repeated violations of the terms and conditions of the lease, violation of federal, state or local law, criminal activity or other good cause. An owner has the same rights for evicting assisted families as they do for private market tenants; owners must first give the family a notice stating the reason for eviction and must forward a copy to IHA. See contract concerning owner's right to evict. The family may terminate tenancy after the first year of the lease. Terminations by the family during the first year are allowed only if the owner agrees to release the family from the lease. The family must give the owner and IHA notice of termination of tenancy in accordance with the lease prior to moving from the unit. The owner’s lease may not require more than 60 calendar days notice for the family to terminate after the first term of the lease. Owners must immediately notify IHA if a family no longer occupies the assisted unit. Housing assistance payments made to an owner after a participant has vacated the assisted unit must be returned immediately.

What are the responsibilities of IHA, the family, and the property owner?

IHA’s Responsibilities

  • Review all applications to determine whether an applicant is eligible for the program.
  • Explain the rules of the program to all of the families who qualify.
  • Issue vouchers.
  • Approve the unit and the owner.
  • Make housing assistance payments (HAP) in a timely manner.
  • Ensure that owners and families comply with the program rules.
  • Provide families and owners with prompt, professional service.
  • Determine rent reasonableness.

The Owner’s Responsibilities

  • Screen families who apply to determine if they will be good renters.
  • Comply with all federal, state and local laws, and not discriminate against any family.
  • Maintain the housing unit, including making all necessary repairs in a timely manner.
  • Comply with the terms of the Housing Assistance Contract with IHA.
  • Collect rent and the security deposit due from the tenant.
  • Manage your unit/property.

The Family's Responsibilities

  • Provide IHA with complete and accurate information.
  • Make their best effort to find a place to live that is suitable for them and that qualifies for the program.
  • Cooperate in attending all appointments scheduled by IHA.
  • Take responsibility for the care of the unit.
  • Comply with the terms of the lease with the owner.
  • Comply with the Family Obligations of their voucher.
  • Comply with all state, federal and local laws for all household members and guests.
Technical Guidance:

The Section 8 program regulations are at 24 CFR Part 983. Additional information about the Section 8 program can be found by visiting the Section 8 program web pages at the HUD website.