Understanding NYC’s Housing Voucher Programs: A Guide for Landlords and Tenants

As part of efforts to combat homelessness and housing instability, various housing voucher programs have been introduced nationwide. These programs, funded by both the federal and local governments, aim to assist eligible low-income individuals and families secure affordable, safe, and decent housing. In New York City, two such significant programs are the Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV) and the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), also known as Section 8. This post seeks to provide a detailed overview of these two programs, helping potential tenants and landlords navigate the NYC housing landscape.

Emergency Housing Vouchers: An Overview

The Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV) is a program launched as part of the 2021 American Rescue Plan. In New York City, the EHV program is overseen by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), which collectively received approximately 7,800 EHVs for distribution.

Eligibility and Application Process for EHVs

EHVs are targeted towards individuals and families who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or are fleeing situations of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. Importantly, individuals cannot apply directly for these vouchers. They must be referred to the program by specific New York City agencies, such as the Department of Homeless Services or the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

How Do EHVs Work?

The EHV program provides substantial assistance to the recipients, covering between 60-70% of their rent depending on their financial situation. The federal government pays this portion of the rent directly to the landlord. Unlike the standard Section 8 vouchers, EHVs offer several additional benefits, including a one-month security deposit voucher, coverage of real estate broker’s fee up to 15% of the annual rent, and moving cost assistance.

Important to Note

The agencies administering these vouchers (NYCHA and HPD) determine the recipient’s capability of paying their portion of the rent, typically around 30%. This means that voucher recipients cannot be held to the same financial standards (i.e., making 40x – 50x the rent) as may be required of a non-voucher tenant.

The Housing Choice Voucher / Section 8 Program

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), or Section 8 program, is another significant housing assistance program. Administered locally by agencies like NYCHA and HPD, the HCV program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

How Do HCVs Work?

Like the EHV program, the HCV program allows families to choose housing that meets acceptable health and safety standards. Recipients can expect to have 60-70% of their rent covered by HCV vouchers. The portion of the rent paid by the federal government is sent directly to the landlord.

Each HCV program has its own payment standard, which determines the monthly rental allowance and whether other rental expenses, such as a security deposit or a broker’s fee, are covered by the program. Most HCV programs do not pay for a security deposit or a broker’s fee; these may need to be paid by the recipient.

Important to Note

Just like with the EHV, the agencies administering the HCV have already financially vetted the voucher holder, meaning they cannot be held to the same standards of making 40x – 50x the rent as non-voucher tenants.

Final Thoughts

New York City’s housing voucher programs can be a win-win for both landlords and tenants. Landlords can ensure stable, government-backed rental income, while tenants receive substantial assistance in affording safe, secure housing. For tenants, these programs can provide a lifeline, offering a way out of homelessness or unstable living situations. For landlords, participating in these voucher programs can open up a more diverse tenant pool, ensure consistent rental income, and contribute to the important societal goal of reducing homelessness.

The Role of the Public Engagement Unit (PEU)

It’s also important to acknowledge the role of the New York City Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU) in this process. The PEU is instrumental in assisting EHV voucher holders, landlords, and real estate brokers. Their work includes identifying available units, supporting voucher recipients through the leasing and move-in process, and even helping schedule viewing appointments for available units.

Closing Call to Action

As a real estate professional specializing in the New York City market, I encourage landlords and tenants alike to educate themselves about these valuable programs. If you’re a tenant seeking housing or a landlord with available units, I’m here to assist you. I’m familiar with the intricacies of these voucher programs and can guide you through the process, ensuring you take full advantage of the opportunities they offer.

Let’s work together to create a more inclusive and affordable housing landscape in New York City. Reach out to me today, and let’s get started!

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Sydney Harewood
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
New York City
We are LEVEL
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