CHA Unveils New Property Rental Assistance Program

June 28, 2010
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Starting July 16, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) will begin accepting owner applications for its Property Rental Assistance (PRA) program. The PRA is a component of the CHA’s housing choice voucher (HCV) program (formerly known as “Section 8”). In contrast to the tenant-based HCV program, the PRA program is based on a long-term contract for a specific number of units within a property.

Owners of selected properties will enter into a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract with the CHA to receive rental subsidy for a specific number of units. The contract rent for the unit will be equal to the market-rate rent in the neighborhood for comparable units. The rental assistance will remain with the property for the term of the HAP contract if the units are occupied by eligible families and meet the physical condition standards of the program.

Long-Term Program
The CHA wants to make this a long-term program and is “aiming for contract terms of 15 to 30 years,” but shorter terms (e.g., 5-year base term with 5-year option renewals) will be considered. (Note: The CHA advises property owners who are interested in contract terms less than 5 years to consider the tenant-based HCV program.)

Chicago’s PRA program is open to properties at all stages of development, including: established or existing apartment buildings in good condition and new construction or rehab properties. Although buildings with units that are assisted by the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund program are ineligible, units receiving capital assistance—such as TIF loans or LIHTC equity—are eligible.

Leasing and Vacancy Payment Terms
Site owners of properties that participate in the PRA program will have to develop applicant screening and selection criteria, to be approved by the CHA. The lease used at the property must comply with the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance.

The CHA will refer prospective households from its public housing program (current and wait list) and housing choice voucher program. However, site owners will be responsible for ensuring that all units are leased to qualified families.

Regarding vacancy payments under the PRA program, the CHA says it will pay 50 percent of contract rent for the initial 60-day lease-up period. The CHA can extend the initial lease-up period for an additional 30 days with 100 percent payment of contract rent. The owner can keep the rental assistance if the resident moves out mid-month. At turnover, the full rent may be available for up to 60 days if the vacancy is not the owner’s fault.