Frequently Asked Questions
What is Public Housing?
Public housing is an affordable rental-housing program for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Public housing comes in all sizes and types, from efficiencies to five-bedroom homes and one-bedroom units for the elderly. VIHA has approximately 3500 public housing units located throughout the Virgin Islands. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers Federal assistance to VIHA to manage the housing for low-income residents at rents they can afford.
What is the application process in regards to applying for Public Housing?
Persons interested in public housing can pick up a pre-application at one of the VIHA Leasing Divisions on St.Thomas or St. Croix, or a pre-application can be mailed to you at your request. Once the pre-application is returned completed, your household will be placed on our Application Waiting List. The Leasing Division is responsible for maintaining an accurate and updated waiting list and processing of applications for timely admissions.
Each applicant will be notified in writing of his/her status based on the information submitted. It is the responsibility of the applicant to notify the staff of any changes that may occur to facilitate the leasing process. Your application will be withdrawn if you fail to respond to our update request within the specified deadline.
Applicants who are ready to be housed based on his/her placement on the waiting list, will be asked to visit our office and complete a formal application.
What is Section 8?
Section 8 is a program that provides vouchers to eligible very low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. The vouchers are a form of monetary rental assistance that helps very low-income families rent affordable housing of their choice from private landlords in the Virgin Islands. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers Federal assistance to VIHA to provide rental assistance for very low-income residents to make renting housing in the community affordable. A component of the Section 8 program is the Family Self-Sufficiency Program.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Section 8 is limited to very low-income families and individuals. The very low-income limits are at 50% of the median income for the Virgin Islands. VIHA's Section 8 - Department can tell you the income levels for the Virgin Islands by family size.
VIHA determines your eligibility based on:
1. Annual gross income;
2. Whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family; and
3. U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status.
HOW DO I APPLY?
If you are interested in applying for Section 8 rental assistance, contact the VIHA Section 8 Department at (340) 714-0174 on St Thomas or (340) 778-8442 on St. Croix, or pick up an application at the VIHA Section 8 Offices in either District.
HOW DOES THE APPLICATION PROCESS WORK?
You will fill it out as an applicant for Section 8. VIHA needs to collect the following information to determine eligibility:
1. Names of all persons who would be living in the unit, their sex, date of birth, and relationship to the family head;
2. Your present address and telephone number;
3. Family characteristics (e.g., veteran) or circumstances that might qualify the family for tenant selection preferences;
4. Names and addresses of your current and previous landlords for information about your family's suitability as a tenant;
5. An estimate of your family's anticipated income for the next twelve months and the sources of that income; and
6. The names and addresses of employers, banks, and any other information VIHA would need to verify your income and deductions, and to verify the family composition.
A representative from VIHA's Section 8 Department will describe the Section 8 program and its requirements, and answer any questions you might have.
WILL I NEED TO PRODUCE ANY DOCUMENTATION?
Yes, a Section 8 representative will request whatever documentation is needed (e.g., birth certificates, tax returns) to verify the information given on your application. VIHA will also rely on direct verification from your employer, etc. You will be asked to sign a form to authorize release of pertinent information to the VIHA.
WHEN WILL I BE NOTIFIED?
VIHA will provide written notification. If VIHA determines that you are eligible, your name will be put on a waiting list. Once your name is reached on the waiting list, VIHA will contact you. If it is determined that you are ineligible, VIHA will explain why and, if you wish, you can request an informal hearing.
WILL I HAVE TO SIGN A LEASE?
If you are offered Section 8 rental assistance and accept it, you will have to sign a lease with the landlord from which you choose to rent. VIHA will provide the lease agreement.
HOW IS RENT DETERMINED?
Your rent, which is referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP), would be based on your family's anticipated gross annual income less deductions, if any. HUD regulations allow VIHA to exclude from annual income the following allowances:
1. $480 for each dependent;
2. $400 for any elderly family, or a person with a disability; and
3. Some medical deductions for families headed by an elderly person or a person with disabilities.
Based on your application, a VIHA representative will determine if any of the allowable deductions should be subtracted from your annual income. Annual income is the anticipated total income from all sources received from the family head and spouse, and each additional member of the family 18 years of age or older. The formula used in determining the TTP is the highest of the following, rounded to the nearest dollar:
1. 30 percent of the monthly-adjusted income. (Monthly Adjusted Income is annual income less deductions allowed by the regulations);
2. Welfare rent, if applicable; or
3. A $25 minimum rent.
HOW LONG CAN I RECEIVE SECTION 8 RENTAL ASSISTANCE?
In general, you may receive Section 8 rental assistance for as long as you comply with the lease and as long as your family's income is with in the Section 8 income limits.