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HCV Program / Section 8

Welcome to the Housing Choice Voucher Program. This housing assistance program is funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and is regarded as one of the best opportunities for lower income families to obtain decent, safe, and affordable housing.

The McAllen Housing Authority (MHA) is responsible for determining the eligibility of all persons who apply to the program and must follow all HUD rules and regulations.

A great feature of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is that families may choose from a broad variety of housing types and locations. This is important because where you live can also affect your access to job opportunities, transportation, medical care, training programs and schools, shopping, and community services.

Our staff is dedicated to providing you with the information you need to make the best housing decision for you and your family. If you have questions, please contact us.

Eligibility for Admission


The policy of MHA is to strive for objectivity and consistency in applying these criteria to evaluate the eligibility of families who apply for housing assistance. MHA staff will review all information provided by the family carefully and without regard to factors other than those defined in this Chapter. Families will be provided the opportunity to explain their circumstances, to furnish additional information, if needed, and to receive an explanation of the basis for any decision made by the MHA pertaining to their eligibility.

Eligibility Factors

MHA will accept applications only from families whose head or spouse is at least 18 years of age or an emancipated minor.

To be eligible for participation in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, an applicant must meet the following criteria established by HUD:

  • An applicant must be a “family”
  • An applicant annual gross income must be within the applicable Income Limits at the time that the determination of eligibility is rendered by the Housing Authority.
  • An applicant must furnish Social Security Numbers for all family members.
  • An applicant must furnish declaration of Citizenship or Eligible Immigrant Status and at least one member of the applicant family must be either a U.S. citizen or have eligible immigration status.

Income Limitations

The following income restriction provisions apply to applicants for admission to the Housing Choice Voucher Programs:

  • An applicant must be a very low-income family, which is defined as a family whose annual income does not exceed 50% of the area median income.
  • Applicants in excess of the very low-income limits but within the low income limits (80% of the area median income) will only be admitted based on the following criteria:
    • A low-income family that is continuously assisted under the 1937 Housing Act. An applicant is continuously assisted if the family has received assistance under any 1937 Housing Act program within 120 days of voucher issuance.
    • A low-income family displaced by rental rehabilitation activity under 24CFR part 511.
    • A low-income non-purchasing family residing in a project subject to homeownership program under 24CFR 248.173.
    • A low-income or moderate-income family that is displaced as a result of a prepayment of a mortgage or voluntary termination of mortgage insurance contracts under 24 CFR 248.165.
    • A low-income family that qualifies for voucher assistance as a non-purchasing family residing in a project subject to a resident home ownership program.
  • To determine if the family is income-eligible, MHA will compare the Annual Income of the family to the applicable income limit for the family's size.
  • Families whose Annual Income exceeds the income limit will be denied admission and offered an informal review.
  • Families using portability must be within MHA’s applicable income limits at the time of initial lease up in MHA’s jurisdiction.
  • 75% of all newly admitted applicants must fall within 30% of the area median income.

HUD FY 2014 Income Limits Summary Effective Dec 2013


Section 8 Housing

This type of affordable housing is based on the use of subsidies, the amount of which is geared to the tenant's ability to pay. The subsidy makes up the difference between what the low-income household can afford, and the contract rent established by HUD for an adequate housing unit. Subsidies are either attached to specific units in a property (project-based), or are portable and move with the tenants that receive them (tenant-based). The Section 8 program was passed by Congress in 1974 as part of a major restructuring of the HUD low-income housing programs. Section 8 was created to permit federal housing assistance to go for construction or rehabilitation of new low-income housing or to subsidize existing housing. 

The housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major 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. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects. 

Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by the McAllen Housing Authority's Section 8 Department. The MHA receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program. 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 Housing Quality Standards as determined by the Section 8 Inspectors of the MHA. A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the MHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charge by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.