Colorado residents in need of financial assistance to pay for shelter can find multiple options. Housing programs are instituted for the homeless and low-income residents who need rental assistance or to enroll in government housing facilities. The Colorado Division of Housing (DOH) administers these programs to improve the overall standard of living for residents of the state. Section 8 is part of a housing act enacted by the federal government and in Colorado go by the Housing Choice Voucher program and Project-Based Assistance. Since affordable Section 8 housing in Colorado is in great demand, there are waiting lists for eligible applicants. Other housing assistance and welfare programs are available to target populations who need special services.
Colorado Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Colorado Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, formerly known as the tenant-based Section 8 program, assists the elderly, disabled and low-income families of Colorado with access to affordable housing. Rental properties in this program are not government-funded public housing facilities, but rather housing through private landlords who agree to accept state subsidies, or vouchers. This allows participants to choose select any housing that meets program requirements. Many new to the program believe that vouchers can only be used in apartments, but some single-family rental homes and townhouses are also available. A complete listing of properties and apartments that participate in the program are made available through the public housing authorities when the waiting lists are opened.
Tenant-based housing is transferable from one approved rental unit to the other, so participants can switch homes as needed. Section 8 participants must have lived in the unit for at least a year and be in good standing with the landlord to move and keep HCV. When tenants move, they must give a 30-day notice to their landlord and find new, acceptable housing within 60 days.
The program awards assistance based on the difference between an applicant’s net income and the cost of rent. The state pays the subsidized amount to landlord directly, while the tenant is responsible for the remaining portion. In some cases, HCV may provide a higher voucher amount to offset the cost of utilities, which are also the responsibility to the tenant. Applicants who meet federal poverty level (FPL) thresholds are most often eligible for housing assistance in Colorado.
Project-Based Assistance in Colorado
Similar to HCV is the Project-Based Assistance (PBV) program that provides state-funded public housing. PBV, also known as project-based Section 8, attaches subsidies/vouchers to the housing unit rather than the tenant, as in HCV. With project-based vouchers, if tenants move out, then they will have to reapply for housing assistance.
Requirements for this program are comparable to the HCV program in that the applicant must have an income that falls within the FPL for the area. Applicants who are currently experiencing homelessness or have special needs are prioritized for project-based housing. PBV housing is often available as permanent housing for those who meet the requirements. However, termination of the benefits can occur for a number of reasons including an increase in income or criminal activity by the applicant or a household family member.
Colorado Works-Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
As part of the Colorado Works program, families in need can receive funds on a temporary basis to cover housing costs. Known as Temporary Assistance for Needy families (TANF) throughout the nation, the state-specific program operates on the same basis, allocating cash benefits to Colorado families that are experiencing a short-term financial disadvantage, such as losing employment or incurring hefty medical bills.
The Colorado Works program requires that participants meet non-financial criteria as well as income requirements. Participants must be willing to work and looking for new prospects. The amount award to applicants is dependent on the household’s income and the county in Colorado where they live. Petitioners must remember that this is a temporary solution and that benefits are limited.
Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing in Colorado
The Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program aims to provide affordable housing for former service members by creating a separate Housing Choice Voucher program. In addition to providing access to permanent housing for homeless veterans, VASH focuses on providing clinical services and case management. Applicants must be former U.S. military personnel and may be eligible if experiencing homelessness, having a low income or meeting health care eligibility requirements. Approved petitioners must participate in case management services to receive housing assistance vouchers.
Other Colorado Housing Assistance Programs
The state offers housing assistance programs to specific populations. The Family Unification Program (FUP) specializes in providing vouchers to youths aging out of foster care, homeless youths and families with combined housing and custody issues. Another program works with disabled persons who have been instituted (nursing homes) and wish to rejoin the community and require affordable housing that allows for independent living. A number of assistance programs are available for those who need immediate shelter, such as those who are fleeing domestic violence or have been victims of human trafficking. Colorado also provides housing assistance to residents who are interested in purchasing a home, rather than renting. The Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program works very similarly to the HCV program.