Housing Choice Vouchers – Location, Housing Quality Standards and Qualification

The Housing Choice Vouchers are scattered throughout the City of Oak Ridge and 10 miles beyond the city limits, but not Knox County. Approximately 80% of the rental properties are within the City of Oak Ridge.

The properties are inspected at least once a year for compliance with Housing Quality Standards (HQS), as defined by HUD and ORHA. ORHA uses federal housing standards unless the State of Tennessee or City of Oak Ridge standards exceed the federal standards. ORHA works with City of Oak Ridge inspectors and code enforcement personnel, on occasion, to ensure code and HQS compliance.

Basic qualifications for the Housing Choice Voucher Program are the same as the Public Housing Program, except that ORHA does not check credit or landlord references and the Income Targeting is different (see below). The private property owner is strongly encouraged to perform a credit check, obtain rental references and criminal history; however these sound property management business practices are not required. The property owner determines who he/she rents to, not ORHA. With the exception that a portion of the rent is paid by ORHA and ORHA conducts HQS inspections, the private property owner and his/her tenant have normal rights and responsibilities as defined by the Tennessee Landlord Tenant law(s).

ORHA performs criminal backgrounds checks for both Housing Choice Voucher Program and Public Housing applicants.

Federal law mandates Income Targeting that requires ORHA to execute a minimum of 75% of leases to families whose income does not exceed 30% of median income in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The Oak Ridge Housing Authority has established Preferences for the Housing Choice Voucher Program secondary to Income Targeting. Families may qualify for more than one preference. For Section 8/HCV, ORHA uses the following preferences and scores:

  1. Families displaced by government action through no fault of their own or displaced from the Voucher Program due to reductions in federal funding. (100 points)
  2. Current Public Housing Clients who are enrolled in the FSS and Home ownership Programs. (100 points)
  3. Families who meet the homeless criteria under the HUD category 1 Literally Homeless definition, who are referred by homelessness providers or families who are fleeing domestic violence. (95 points*)
  4. Families where the head, spouse, or co-head is a Military Veteran, elderly (62 or older), or disabled. (25 points*)
  5. Families where the head, spouse, or co-head is employed at least 20 hours per week. (25 points*)
  6. All other eligible applicants based on date and time of application

*5 points will be added if the family does not currently receive housing assistance.

Private property inspections:

ORHA through the Housing Choice Voucher Program will disburse approximately $1,140,000 annually in rental payments and utility reimbursements to private property owners and program participants. Additionally, ORHA will conduct over 230 HQS inspections in the City of Oak Ridge during a one-year period. The majority of these rental properties would fall into the “Standard” classification as defined by the City of Oak Ridge Housing Survey. The standard contract executed with the private property owners requires the maintenance of minimum HQS standards and helps to move “Neglected” and “Minor Repair” classified property into the “Standard” classification.
Federal guidelines require that ORHA pay “Fair Market Rents” for the rental property under contract on the Section 8/HCV Program. Historically, property values increase which provides motivation for the private property owners to invest in the upgrading of the property. ORHA works with private property owners by increasing rent payments, within the federal guidelines, for property improvements that benefit the tenant, the property owner and the City of Oak Ridge.

Ineligible Landlords/Owners

ORHA may refuse to approve a lease with a landlord/owner who has committed fraud, bribery or other criminal acts. ORHA refusal can also result from drug-related activity on the part of the landlord or if the landlord has a violent criminal history. If the landlord knowingly fails to terminate the lease of a tenant involved in illegal activity, or a tenant who violates other rules of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, ORHA reserves the right to deem that landlord ineligible. A landlord may also be considered ineligible if he/she has a history of non-compliance with housing quality standards (HQS). Additional information regarding landlord ineligibility can be found in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Administrative Plan, or you may contact ORHA.

How do I become an ORHA Section 8/HCV landlord?

Provide the Section 8/HCV program with information concerning the property. Information should include the address, phone number, name of landlord, name of company, ect. Each property will be subject to an HQS inspection prior to contract. You may submit this information via email to tflynn@orha.net.