Section 8

Housing choice voucher

Federal program: Hud Housing Choice Voucher Program

The River Falls Housing Authority administers the Housing Choice Voucher program in the city of River Falls. The program partners with private rental market landlords to provide safe, sanitary and affordable housing opportunities for households in the area.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program utilizes the existing private rental market in River Falls to provide affordable housing for low-income families, elderly, handicapped and disabled persons. The Housing Authority administers this federal program within the city limits of River Falls.

The Housing Choice Voucher program waiting list is currently closed. River Falls Housing Authority staff does NOT know when the list will reopen.

How it works

  • Participants choose a rental unit in the private rental market.
  • The property owner must be willing to accept voucher-assisted tenants.
  • Rent for the selected unit must be at or near the payment standard.
  • All assisted rental units must pass an initial and annual inspection based on the Housing Quality Standards.
  • Participants pay a minimum of 30% of their gross income toward rent. RFHA pays the remaining rent portion to the property owner on the first business day of each month. RFHA payment is direct deposited to the landlords designate account.
  • Property owners use the same lease format for voucher tenants as is used for other tenants.

Payment standards

Unit sizeMarket ratePayment standard
0 bedroom$898$809
1 bedroom$1,054$949
2 bedroom$1,308$1,178
3 bedroom$1,838$1,655
4 bedroom$2,156$,1941

Portability

If you are interested in porting your Section 8 voucher to River Falls, please have your agency send your
port file to svansomeren@rfhousing.org or fax it to 715-425-8530.

River Falls Housing Authority will contact you within 10 days after receiving your complete file. When porting to River Falls you must be approved by our agency prior to leasing with a private landlord.

Once the Voucher Holder signs a lease and a HAP contract is executed, River Falls Housing Authority will
notify the initial PHA.

Inspections

Units must be inspected by River Falls Housing Authority to ensure that they meet Federal Housing
Quality Standards (HQS). These standards ensure that units are decent, safe, and sanitary. Units are
inspected prior to move in and are re-inspected annually.

River Falls Housing Authority staff will schedule initial inspections with the property manager and annual
inspections with the tenant. Landlords will be notified of any damages or repairs that are needed.

See below for our Housekeeping Standards.

FAQ’s

How does it help low income people?

Program participants pay a minimum of 30% of their monthly adjusted income toward rent (and may not pay more than 40% of monthly adjusted income when initially leasing a unit with voucher assistance). The program provides rental assistance which is the difference between the participants rent portion and the actual rent. The rent assistance is paid directly to the property owner on the first of each month.

Program participants choose a rental unit from the private rental market. The property owner must be willing to accept voucher-assisted tenants. The types of housing which are eligible for the program are privately owned duplexes, townhouses, apartments and single-family homes. The housing must be appropriate for the family size, be located in River Falls and pass the Housing Quality Standards Inspection. Participants are not permitted to rent from family members.

Who can participant in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program?

Persons who are eligible for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program are either:

  • Senior citizens (over 62 years old)
  • Living with a disability
  • Families with children
  • And have gross annual income below the HUD established limits for River Falls

Households with family members who have been convicted of criminal activity are not eligible.

How do I get on the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program?

Complete and return an application to the Housing Authority office. Receive and complete the application one of the following ways:

  • In person: pick up an application at 625 N. Main St., River Falls
  • By phone: contact 715-425-7640 to have an application mailed to you
  • Online: for a printable application visit www.rfhousing.org

All applications must be signed and returned to the office with the following:

  1. legible copy of a current driver’s license or photo ID for all adults in the household
  2. a copy of every household member’s social security card

​A police record background check is completed for every adult household member to determine eligibility.

How long before I get help with my rent?

Applications from eligible households will be placed on the waiting list as of the date and time the completed application is received. The length of the waiting list depends on the availability of federal funding. Vouchers are funded through the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Applicants will be notified by mail of their estimated waiting time.

How will I know that the Housing Authority has a Voucher for me?

Applicants will be notified by mail to schedule an interview when their name nears the top of the list. Applicants are responsible for notifying the Housing Authority of any changes in mailing address or family composition during the waiting period. During the interview, all information needed to determine your rent and eligibility will be discussed. Applicants must verify income, assets, medical and childcare expenses. Come to the interview prepared; bring any of the following information that applies:

  • A copy of your most recent Social Security award letter
  • Addresses of employer(s) and other income sources, including pensions and IRAs
  • Addresses of all assets including stocks, bonds, mutual funds or other investments
  • Addresses of all previous landlords
  • Senior citizens or disabled persons should bring addresses of any ongoing medical expenses including medical insurance
  • Family applicants should bring addresses of child care providers

Can I use my Voucher anywhere?

Program participants may choose a rental unit from the private rental market in River Falls. The property owner must be willing to accept Voucher assisted tenants. The rental unit must be appropriate for the family size, be located in River Falls and must pass an inspection. The rent must be reasonable for the River Falls area. Participants are not permitted to rent from family members.

How much rent will I pay when I get my Voucher?

Participants pay between 30% and 40% of their monthly adjusted income toward rent. The Voucher pays the difference between the participant’s portion of the rent and the actual rent. The rent assistance is paid directly to the property owner on the first of each month.

Landlord FAQ’s

How does an owner get involved in the Housing Choice Voucher Program? 

An owner becomes involved in the program through a renter who has been found eligible for a Section 8 Voucher. The household looking for a rental unit will inform the owner that they have a voucher for rent assistance and will ask the owner if he/she is willing to participate in the program. 

Does the Housing Authority screen prospective renters for the owner?

No.  The Housing Authority does not screen participants for rental/credit history. Program participant screening and selection is the responsibility of the owner.  River Falls Housing Authority recommends that the owner check references of all rental applicants (assisted and non-assisted) for past rental history.

Is the owner required to participate in the rent assistance program?

An owner has the same right of tenant selection with regard to rent assistance program participants as other applicants.  State and Federal laws prohibit housing discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, reliance on public assistance, marital status, familial status or disability.

What is the process if an owner has a rental unit he/she wishes to rent a
Section 8 participant?

The participant will provide the landlord with the required forms that must be return to the Housing Authority. Housing Authority staff will schedule a unit inspection with the Landlord. If the unit passes inspection, the Landlord and Housing Authority will enter into a Housing Assistance Payment Agreement (HAP contract) and the participant may move in.

Are there limits on rents?

Yes. Rent limits are generally determined individually for each household based on three factors.  The first factor is the payment standard amount, which is set by bedroom size.  The second factor is household income. Generally, the higher the household income, the higher the approvable rent.

The payment standards are determined to include modestly priced rental units. Not all units are affordable for the program participants. The third factor is that the rent must be determined reasonable by the Housing Authority.

Are tenant-paid utility charges taken into consideration?

An estimate for tenant-paid utilities (excluding telephone and air conditioning) is calculated by River Falls Housing Authority using average consumption data by bedroom size, structure type, energy source, and current utility rate information.  This data is updated annually.  The monthly rent plus this estimate equal the gross monthly rent for the unit.

How and when does the owner notify the Housing Authority of a rent change?

Following the initial term of the lease, the owner may adjust the rent by providing River Falls Housing Authority with 60-day written notice of the change.  

Is the unit inspected by the Housing Authority? What is the purpose of the inspection? 

Yes. A unit must be inspected by Housing Authority staff initially to ensure the unit meets Federal Housing Quality Standards (HQS). The Housing Quality Standards were developed to ensure that housing assisted through the Program is “decent, safe and sanitary.” The unit must be re-inspected annually.

What if a unit “fails” the inspection?

Under Federal regulations, a unit either “passes” or “fails”.  Any item that does not meet the standards will cause the unit to fail.  The owner will be notified, in writing, if the unit “fails”.

The owner determines whether he/she is willing to make the repairs and informs the program participant and the Housing Authority of this decision.  If the owner elects not to make the repairs, the household must choose another unit to receive assistance. 

What happens if the unit fails the inspection due to tenant-caused violations of the
standards?

The program participant is responsible for the cost of repair of the damages. If the participant fails to pay for the repairs, River Falls Housing Authority can terminate the Section 8 Voucher. Owners can terminate the lease.

When does River Falls Housing Authority make rent payments?

HAP payments are directly deposited into the Landlord’s account of the first business day of the month.

What is the process if a household wants to move to another unit within the same
building/complex or another building/complex?

The program participant is required to give River Falls Housing Authority at least a proper 60-day notice of his/her intention to move and must have permission from the landlord.  The Housing Authority must re-verify income, re-establish rent portions, execute new documents, and inspect the new unit.

What happens if a program participant “skips” or vacates a unit in violation of their notice
requirements? 

RFHA can’t pay rent assistance for tenants who are no longer living in the unit. RFHA must terminate the Voucher and the rent assistance payments. Please notify River Falls Housing Authority if a participant “skips”.

C O N T A C T   U S

Let’s talk housing.

River Falls Housing Authority professionally manages the properties with excellent administrative and maintenance staff. Contact our office today for more information on your new home.

Business hours:

Monday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday are Closed

Fridays are open by appointment only