The Scranton Housing Authority (SHA) administers funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and distributes them in the form of Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) to eligible families and individuals.
The HCV program is the federal government's program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments.
A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family's choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. This unit may include the family's present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the SHA. The rent charged by the landlord must be affordable (in accordance with payment standards set by the SHA) and reasonable (compared to similar unassisted units in the same area).
A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the SHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.
Public Housing is made up of apartment buildings and duplex houses that the SHA owns and manages. In the Public Housing Program, the tenant pays rent directly to the SHA as the landlord.
In contrast, the HCV program gives you the freedom to find your choice of decent, safe, and sanitary housing with a private landlord. This program lets you choose where you would like to live and the kind of apartment or house you would like to live in.
For information on the status of our waiting lists, please see our Application / Waiting List page.
If the HCV waiting list is closed, this means that the HCV program is still operating; however, due to the large number of families who are currently on the waiting list for assistance, we are not accepting new applications until further notice.
Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local housing agencies, long waiting periods are common. In fact, a Public Housing Authority (PHA) may close its waiting list when it has more families on the list than can be assisted in the near future.
The SHA HCV program has the following preferences:
- Applicant who is involuntarily displaced from his/her home as a result of fire, disaster or government action.
- Single or two parent household who resides in the City of Scranton where the head of household or spouse works or has been hired to work in the City of Scranton. Head of household or spouse must be employed a minimum of 30 hours per week.
- Head of household or spouse or sole member who is 62 years of age or older, or who receive Social Security, SSI or any benefits resulting form an individual' s inability to work will be counted as the equivalent to the second preference.
- Head of household or spouse that has graduated from an education and/or training program that is designed to prepare individuals for the job market.
- Applicant who is a victim of domestic violence.
- Applicant who is homeless.
- Applicant living in substandard housing.
- Applicant paying more than 50% of income for rent.
The income limits are determined by HUD and change every year. Please see the RESOURCES page for current income limits.
Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the SHA based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to U.S. citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status.
During the application process, the SHA will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. If the SHA determines that your family is eligible, the SHA will put your name on a waiting list. Once your name is reached on the waiting list, the SHA will contact you.
There are many reasons why an application may be denied including, but not limited to:
- Failed criminal background check
- Income over the federally-mandated income limits
- Whether you or your household members owe any debt to us or to another subsidized housing property
- Failure to appear for scheduled appointments
- Failure to provide necessary documents or information for us to determine eligibility
Once this is finished, we will determine whether you are eligible or not. We will contact you by mail with our decision.
If we determine that you are ineligible, we will state the reason(s) why. If you believe our decision was made in error, you have the right to request an informal hearing.
All denials are based on the policies and regulations found in the SHA’s Administrative Plan. The SHA is prohibited by federal law from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, familial status, and disability.
You may request to add or remove family members from your application or voucher. Any request to add somebody to your voucher must be approved by the landlord before it can be approved by the SHA. All adult members will be subject to a criminal background check as well as a check of whether they owe any money to us or to another subsidized housing property. If you remove any member of the household from your voucher, they are prohibited from living in the subsidized unit.
Yes. You must report any changes of address to the SHA in person. Please note: changing your address with the post office will NOT change your address with the SHA. You must update us separately.
Almost all of our communication with you will be conducted via mail. This is why it is extremely important to keep us updated with your current address. If a letter is returned by the post office, your name will be removed from the waiting list.
No. You do not have to be a citizen; however, you must have eligible immigration status. Everyone in the household will be required to declare their citizenship status and provide proof of identity. Non-citizens with eligible immigration status will be required to provide proof of eligible immigration status as well
The HCV payment standards are determined by HUD and the SHA and change every year. Please see the RESOURCES page for our current payment standards.
However, the payment standards can only be used as a general guideline in determining whether a unit may be eligible for assistance. We will also take into consideration which utilities the landlord pays, the estimated utility costs of the unit, and your income to determine what rent amount can be approved. In addition, we conduct a comparability test prior to approving the requested unit to ensure that the amount being requested by the landlord is not excessive when compared to other similar units in the general area.
The HCV program places the choice of housing in the hands of the individual family. Participants are encouraged to consider several housing choices to secure the best housing for their family’s needs. A voucher holder is advised of the unit size for which they are eligible based on family size and composition.
The housing unit selected by the family must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before the SHA can approve the unit. When the voucher holder finds a unit that they wish to occupy and they reach an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the SHA must inspect the dwelling and determine that the rent requested is reasonable.
PHAs determine a payment standard that is the amount generally needed to rent a moderately-priced dwelling unit in the local housing market and that amout is used to calculate the housing assistance a family will receive. However, the payment standard does not limit or affect the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family may pay. A family which receives a housing choice voucher can select a unit with a rent that is below or above the payment standard.
The housing choice voucher family must pay 30% of its monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities, and if the unit rent is greater than the payment standard, the family is required to pay the additional amount. By law, whenever a family moves to a new unit where the rent exceeds the payment standard, the family may not pay more than 40 percent of its adjusted monthly income for rent.
Assignment of bedroom size eligibility is outlined in our Administrative Plan.
No. It is illegal and a violation of SHA and HUD regulations. You should never pay more than the SHA states you should pay.
This depends on a number of factors including your income, the deductions to which you are entitled, the number of people in your household (which determines your voucher size), the applicable payment standard, and the utility allowance for the unit you have chosen. Generally, speaking, you will pay between 30% and 40% of your monthly adjusted income for rent.
The owner/landlord cannot be the parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sister, brother, or spouse of any member of the assisted family. Any exceptions are outlined in our Administrative Plan.
All vouchers are issued for 60 days. If necessary, you can apply for an extension for an additional 60 days.
After the "Extension Expiration Date" written on the voucher, the voucher will expire. If your voucher has expired, you will need to reapply when the waiting list is open. Any exceptions are outlined in our Administrative Plan.
The HCV is valid anywhere in Scranton City. This means that any unit you wish to rent must be located in this jurisdiction.
Subject to certain restrictions, you may transfer your voucher to another housing authority, anywhere in the country where an HCV program is operating. This is called "portability".
You must live in the SHA’s jurisdiction with your voucher for one year before you are eligible to transfer, or "port", your voucher. This means that when you receive a voucher from the SHA, you must find a suitable unit, move in, and live there for one year before being able to use portability.
If you wish to transfer, or "port", your voucher to another jurisdiction, you must notify the HCV Department in writing.
The process of moving from one housing authority’s jurisdiction to another, while keeping HCV assistance, is called "portability".
If you wish to move to Scranton, Pennsylvania under portability, you MUST contact your CURRENT housing authority for more information.
Please see our Housing Availability List on the RESOURCES page.
When you receive your HCV, you will be given a Request for Tenancy Approval (RFT) form. Give the Request for Tenancy Approval (RFT) form to the landlord to complete. Return this form to the SHA. The rent will be reviewed to ensure it is reasonable and affordable. If the rent is approved, the unit will be scheduled for an inspection. The landlord will be contacted to schedule the inspection. Your landlord will notify you if the unit passes or fails the inspection. It is very important that you keep close contact with your prospective landlord during the process.
The SHA will not pay any subsidy on your behalf until the unit passes inspection and is under contract. If you move in before this time, the SHA will NOT pay any portion of your rent. The landlord may be able to charge you the full amount of the rent.
Once a PHA approves an eligible family's housing unit, the family and the landlord sign a lease and, at the same time, the landlord and the SHA sign a housing assistance payments (HAP) contract that runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone -- tenant, landlord and PHA -- has obligations and responsibilities under the voucher program.
Tenant's Obligations: When a family selects a housing unit, and the SHA approves the unit and lease, the family signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. After the first year, the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease. When the family is settled in a new home, the family is expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay its share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition, and notify the SHA of any changes in income or family composition.
Landlord's Obligations: The role of the landlord in the voucher program is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program's housing quality standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with the SHA.
SHA Obligations: The SHA administers the voucher program locally. The SHA provides a family with the housing assistance that enables the family to seek out suitable housing and the SHA enters into a contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet the owner's obligations under the lease, the SHA has the right to terminate assistance payments. The SHA must reexamine the family's income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least annually to ensure that it meets minimum housing quality standards.
HUD's Role: To cover the cost of the program, HUD provides funds to allow the SHA to make housing assistance payments on behalf of the families. HUD also pays the SHA a fee for the costs of administering the program. When additional funds become available to assist new families, HUD invites Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to submit applications for funds for additional housing vouchers. Applications are then reviewed and funds awarded to the selected PHAs on a competitive basis. HUD monitors PHA administration of the program to ensure program rules are properly followed.
Sometimes people with disabilities may need a reasonable accommodation in order to take full advantage of the SHA’s housing programs and related services.
A reasonable accommodation is a change, adaptation, or modification to the SHA’s rules, policies, practices, or services which is necessary to provide a qualified individual with a handicap or disability an equal opportunity to participate fully in the services, programs, or activities provided by the SHA.
You may request a reasonable accommodation. A request may be made on behalf of the individual by a family member or other agent.
If your question isn’t answered in this section, please contact the SHA Section 8 Department at (570) 558-2070 OR (570) 348-4452. We will respond to all calls as soon as possible.