This paper describes the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program as an option for meeting the housing needs of victims of human trafficking who are transitioning from their victimizing circumstances to a safe and constructive lifestyle.
The HCV program, also known as “Section 8,” is a rental assistance program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered through local Public Housing Agencies (PHA). This program provides vouchers to pay part of the rent for recipients. A key aspect of the program is that the voucher travels with the recipient; it is not attached to any housing unit, which means recipients are generally free to choose where they can afford to live with the voucher income supplement. Generally, individuals and families with gross incomes below 50 percent of their area’s medium income are eligible for a housing voucher. HUD determines median income levels for each area annually. The calculations are updated annually and posted on the HUD website. The HCV program is limited to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and other eligible non-citizens, including victims of trafficking, VAWA self-petitioners, and refugees or asylees. Mixed families with eligible and ineligible members can qualify for a HCV, but the assistance will be based on the number of eligible family members only. Federal law requires that all eligible members of a HCV household provide Social Security Numbers to the PHA, which shares this information with HUD. Victim service providers can contact their local PHA to determine whether the waitlist is open. Individuals and families pay approximately 30 percent of their adjusted income as rent to the landlord, and the HCV pays the difference up to the maximum rent for the unit, which is set by HUD.