Section 8/Rental Assistance
Northwest Regional Housing Authority administers the Housing Choice Voucher Rental Assistance Program funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the northwest Arkansas counties of Baxter, Boone, Carroll, Madison, Marion, Newton, and Searcy.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV) gives eligible applicants the opportunity to choose the type of rental unit and area they wish to live in that best suits the family's needs.
The family must meet the very low or extremely low-income guidelines published yearly by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
To apply for the HCV Rental Assistance Program, the family must complete an application and be placed on the waiting list. The length of time on the waiting list is determined by the number of families leaving the program and the funding available from HUD.
Applications are available online click HERE to access the online application.
Applications are available from our office, 114 Sisco Avenue, Harrison, Arkansas, by calling 870-741-5522 and requesting an application or are available at your county Department of Human Services Office and many local service providers.
All applications contain a Criminal History Report that you must have completed at your local law enforcement agency for all family members 18 or older.
The application must be mailed or delivered to our office. If the application is incomplete when we receive it at our office, it will not be processed and will be returned to you to complete.
Mail to: NWRHA
PO Box 2568
Harrison, AR 72602
To request an application by mail, call: 870-741-5522 or by email at email@example.com
If your address changes while you are on the waiting list, you must send our office a written statement with your new address. It is essential that we have your correct mailing address if a letter is sent to inform you that there is a scheduled briefing appointment for assistance. If you do not call our agency to reschedule your appointment on or before that date, or you do not show up, you will be dropped and will need to re-apply for assistance. Our agency is not responsible for undelivered mail.
If you have any changes in your income or family composition, you must notify our office in writing. These changes may affect your placement on the waiting list.
All briefing appointments are scheduled at 9 AM Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday only. You will attend a group briefing that will inform you of how the program works, rules and regulations, what to do when you have been issued a voucher, and to sign papers for your assistance. If you are late for an appointment, you will be asked to reschedule for another day.
Each applicant will then be interviewed in private to discuss your income, family composition, any allowances and estimated rent amount to look for, based on your family size and county you are interested in. Inform the Housing Specialist of any changes in family size or income at this time. Before you are issued a voucher, we must verify all the information given on your application.
Vouchers and Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA)
After all the information is verified and you are determined to be eligible for rental assistance, we will mail you the Voucher and Request for Tenancy Approval Packet (RFTA).
The voucher must be returned within 10 days. You will have 60 days initially to find a unit that meets your family's needs. This may be an apartment, house, duplex or mobile home. When you have found a unit, be sure you want to live there. All leases and contracts are for one year and cannot be for sale. If you cannot find a unit in the initial 60 days, you may request in writing one 30-day extension. This must be received in our office before your 60 days expire.
Check the unit by the list of Housing Quality Standards that you are given during the briefing. The unit must pass inspection, no payments can be made on substandard units, and we cannot pay back rent after the unit passed the re-inspection. This will be your responsibility. All contracts start on the first of a month after they pass inspection.
If you decide on a unit and the landlord is willing to let you get assistance with your rent, complete all items on the Request for Tenancy Approval, and return the packet with a copy of the completed landlord's lease - or if the landlord does not have a lease they use - there is a generic lease provided in the RFTA. If the RFTA is not complete or the lease is not attached, the packet will be returned to the tenant for completion.
When the completed RFTA is received in our office, the Housing Specialist will complete a utility schedule and worksheet to be sure that the amount of rent will work for your family's income and family size.
Inspections and Contracts
The inspector will then schedule an inspection. Inspections are done by county on Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 am and 3:00 pm. You will not be given a specific arrival time. Be sure that all utilities are on, as the unit will fail inspection without them. The landlord is welcome to be at the inspection but is not required to be there. If you have a legitimate reason that you cannot be at the unit you may make arrangements to have another adult (18 or older) there. Do not leave during the time you are scheduled for inspection for any reason. You only have two chances for your initial inspection. Failure to allow the inspection will result in having your voucher terminated and removed from the program. If this happens, you must start the process over with a new application and will be placed at the bottom of the waiting list.
After the inspection your landlord will receive a letter stating that the unit passed - or did not pass inspection, along with the Housing Choice Voucher contract and other documents for signature. If your unit fails the inspection the landlord will have two weeks to make all required repairs, return the contract, and notify our office that the unit is ready for re-inspection. The landlord may ask you to call our office and notify us that the repairs are completed. You need to keep up with the progress of the repairs and notifications.
If your landlord is not willing to make the repairs please notify our office immediately. If you still have time on your Voucher or any extension we will send you a new RFTA to begin looking for another unit.
The unit must also meet the Rent Reasonableness Comparison. This means that your unit must be compared to other similar units based on size, type, and amenities to see if the rent on your unit is reasonable. If the rent is determined to be unreasonable you and the landlord will be sent a notice requesting the landlord to lower the rent amount. Both you and the landlord must sign and return this request. The landlord cannot legally charge you the amount; they are requested to lower the rent. If you are asked to "make a deal" or "pay side payments" contact our office immediately. Agreeing to this type of arrangement is a violation of federal law, and you and/or the landlord can be fined and/or imprisoned and/or be made to pay back all monies paid on your behalf. The landlord is not required to lower the rent. If they are not willing to lower the rent, you will need to find another unit.
Once your unit passes inspection and all the documents have been signed and returned we will complete the payments for your rental assistance. All rental assistance contracts start on the 1st of the month after they pass inspection.
Everyone pays a portion of the rent based on 30% of their adjusted income. There is also a $25 minimum rent even if you have no income. Payments are also affected by the HUD published Payment Standards.
Payments must be adjusted during the term of your rental assistance if you have any changes in income, family size or allowances. Any and all changes must be reported in writing within 10 days of occurrence. Failure to notify our office of any changes will result in termination of assistance and repayment of rental amounts paid that you were not entitled to, and a two-year penalty before being eligible to participate in the program again.