Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs), commonly referred to as Section 8 vouchers, are a program of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Administered locally by housing authorities, HCVs are portable housing subsidies for low-income individuals and families.
Voucher holders can look for housing anywhere in their local Housing Authority’s jurisdiction, and the HCV will pay a portion of that person’s rent directly to the landlord. This enables folks living on low incomes to have stable and affordable housing in a neighborhood of their choice.
Sounds amazing, right? It is! The one problem? There are not nearly enough HCVs to fill the enormous need in our country.
In King County, HCVs are administered by the Seattle, Renton and King County Housing Authorities. If you are lucky enough to have your application drawn in a lottery with the Seattle or King County Housing Authority, you then go on a waiting list where your application might sit for another two or three years before you actually get your voucher.
This is why special vouchers called FUPs (Family Unification Program) can make an enormous difference for families facing particular barriers and precarious circumstances. Solid Ground’s JourneyHome/Rapid Rehousing (JHRRH) program is fortunate to have access to about a dozen FUPs, allowing us to give direct HCV access to eligible families, which enables them to essentially skip the long waiting process.
Special situations qualifying families for FUPs include:
- One or more child is temporarily staying outside of the home, and getting stable housing would allow the family to reunite.
- There is danger of a child being removed from the home, and housing would allow them to stay together.
- A family’s homelessness was caused or prolonged by domestic violence.
- A child has a mental or physical health condition that is exacerbated by homelessness.
An HCV truly is a “golden ticket,” as many folks refer to it, because it allows people who otherwise would not have enough income to afford an apartment on their own to get and maintain stable, permanent housing. Unfortunately, JHRRH works with many families experiencing these types of difficult situations, but we are grateful to connect some of them with FUPs and have many success stories of program participants referred to this resource.