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The Fresno Housing Authority will be opening its Housing Choice Voucher Program interest list for the first time since 2019. The list will open June 15 at 10 a.m. and will close July 14 at 5 p.m.

The program, formerly known as Section 8, provides rental assistance to low-income renters in Fresno city and county. 

The list has not been opened yet, but potential applicants can start the process by creating an account on the Fresno Housing Authority’s resident portal

Once the list is open, Fresno Housing Authority “will launch an educational campaign to provide information and resources to the community to spread awareness about the program,” representatives stated in an email to Fresnoland.

How to apply

To apply, you need an email address, a phone, tablet or a computer. Fresno Housing has various computer labs for you to use. One of the labs is located at 709 W. California Ave. in Fresno. You can also receive on-site assistance at 1331 Fulton Street.

You will also need a social security number if applicable, a phone number or other contact info, income information for yourself and everyone who will be staying with you, birth certificates for minors, citizenship documentation and contact information for previous landlords. 

You are not required to be a U.S. citizen if applying for a voucher, but, “there must be at least one household member that has legal residency,” according to the Fresno Housing Authority website. 

If you are applying and don’t have a social security number, enter in all 9’s in for your social, according to their website.

To meet the income requirements for a voucher, you may have to provide pay stubs, bank statements, unemployment or tax documents. 

How to know if you qualify

Your income is one determinant of whether or not you qualify for the Housing Choice Voucher Program. 

According to HUD, Fresno County’s median household income for 2023 is $79,400. Income tiers are broken up into “low,” “very low” and “extremely low.” Applicants must be in the “very low” or “extremely low” categories in order to qualify for a Housing Choice Voucher. 

For a single-person household, “very low” would mean that you make less than $28,900. The maximum income for “extremely low” is $17,350. 

Those income tiers may change each year as median income changes. More details on income requirements can be found on Fresno Housing’s Income Limits page

You may also be asked to provide your current address to apply. HUD guidelines do not disqualify nonresidents from receiving a Housing Choice Voucher. 

You must be a citizen or a noncitizen with permanent status to qualify for the program. Temporary and unauthorized immigrants are not eligible. 

People with criminal records can qualify for Housing Choice Vouchers, but there are some felonies that disqualify you, including any crimes that require a lifelong registration as a sex offender. Charges for manufacturing methamphetamine also disqualify you from applying. 

Outside of that, decisions regarding a criminal record are made on a case-by-case basis. Some things that are considered include whether you’ve made positive changes since your arrest and whether you have employment. 

If you get a voucher

If you’re accepted, it’s up to you to find an apartment or home in the rental market. You can also ask your current property manager or landlord about affordable housing options if you want to stay where you currently live. Landlords are prohibited from refusing to renew your lease just because you’re using a voucher. 

Finding housing using a HCV is notoriously difficult. Voucher “success rates” – meaning the amount of people who find housing using their voucher before it expires – has recently dropped to historic lows. In 2022, the rate was 34%, compared to 70% in 2021. 

When you find out you’ve been accepted you typically have 60 days to secure housing with your voucher. If you don’t have housing by that time, the voucher will go to someone who’s on the waitlist. 

HUD has a database that allows you to find affordable housing options near you if you need support. 

Fresno Housing Authority also has a list of other resources on their website

If you are nearing your deadline and have yet to secure housing, you can reach out to Fresno Housing and request an extension. Email to inquire about an extension. Information about extensions can be found in the Voucher Program’s Guidebook.

Once you find housing, Fresno Housing conducts an annual Housing Quality Standard inspection. They inspect for things such as safe flooring and absence of pest infestations.

Based on your income, you will be responsible for paying a portion of the rent to the landlord – at least 30% of your overall income, according to Fresno Housing’s website. Whatever balance is left will be paid by Fresno Housing Authority directly to the landlord. 

Know your rights as a tenant

While landlords are legally prohibited from discriminating against renters using housing choice vouchers, tenants still report instances of discrimination while searching for housing. 

Discrimination doesn’t only look like a landlord telling you that they don’t accept Housing Choice Program vouchers, says Madeline Howard, a senior attorney at Western Center on Law and Poverty. 

A landlord may tell a potential tenant that they don’t meet the income requirements for a property. That is prohibited.

“There’s something specifically in the statute that says that a landlord can’t impose the same income standard if someone is using a voucher or some other kind of subsidy,” Howard said. 

If  a landlord requires three times the rent, they can only consider the portion that you’d be paying. For instance, if you’re obligated to pay $500 in rent and your voucher covers the rest, the landlord can only require that you make $1500, not three times the entire cost of rent. 

Howard also said that she hears of landlords saying they’ll accept the housing voucher, but will refuse to complete the processes required by the Housing Authority. 

“There are things like paperwork that the landlord has to fill out and a required inspection of the property to make sure it meets safety guidelines,” Howard said. “A landlord has to cooperate with that process.”

Other protections for people using housing vouchers can be found in the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s Source of Income FAQ.

If you feel you may be a victim of voucher discrimination, you can reach out to a legal services organization such Central California Legal Services or California Rural Legal Assistance

California’s Civil Rights Department, a state agency, also has a complaint process you can go through, and the Civil Rights Department has a process to investigate claims of discrimination. 

Howard recommends keeping as much documentation as possible of the incident.

“Make sure you write down the name of the person you spoke with, the date this happened, if you receive an email or a text keep a record of that.” 

If you are on the waitlist

If you end up moving from the interest list to the waitlist, you’ll be contacted through the contact information you included on your application. 

According to Fresno Housing Authority’s website, if you are not put on the waitlist, you will remain on the interest list “until the next opportunity for housing or a final draw is completed.”

More information regarding the application process for Housing Choice Vouchers or other public housing assistance options can be found on the Fresno Housing Authority website

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