Rental Housing Support Program
The Rental Housing Support Program (RHSP) was created by the State of Illinois in 2005 to provide rental assistance to households by subsidizing rental apartments and homes. HCP receives state funding to administer the program for suburban Cook County. Program participants must have a household income of 30 percent or less of the area median income (AMI) and will pay no more than 30 percent of their income towards rent.
HCP has been administering this program since 2011 and currently works with over seventy landlords and low-income families throughout Cook County. RHSP enables clients to pay only 30 percent of their income for rent, while giving the landlord the difference in the form of a subsidy. The difference between this subsidy and the traditional Section 8 or Housing Choice Voucher is that this subsidy is based on the unit—it is project-based, not tenant-based. That means that when one client vacates the unit, another low-income client moving into the unit would receive the same benefits.
HCP identifies eligible units for the program and conducts periodic outreach to low-income residents to fill vacancies as they come along.
The wait list is currently closed to new families, but HCP is always seeking new landlord partnerships. For more information, contact Mari Valero, Program Director at (312) 386-1009 x229, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why was this program created?
A combination of low wages and limited availability of affordable rental housing units requires many families and households throughout the State of Illinois to pay a disproportionate share of their income for basic housing. There are also households in the state that face additional difficulty in finding affordable housing due to disabilities or special needs of family members. To address this pressing need, the state enacted the Rental Housing Support Program (RHSP). The RHSP promotes permanent housing by funding rent subsidies for rent burdened extremely- and severely-low-income households.
Why should I participate?
HCP provides a number of supportive roles for both tenants and landlords that a market-rate renter does not receive when signing a lease. HCP is able to assist in rental lease negotiations, provide inspections to ensure safety of all parties, mediate any potential disputes that may arise, and provide ongoing support even after the lease is signed. The RHSP helps suburban Cook County landlords avoid vacancies by connecting landlords to potential tenants through a waiting list. Landlords are guaranteed rent by receiving HCP’s subsidy portion three months in advance, four times a year.
How does it work?
HCP receives funding from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) to manage the RHSP in suburban Cook County. HCP conducts outreach to potential landlords and tenants, determining both tenant eligibility as well as landlord and unit eligibility for the program. HCP keeps a tenant waiting list, and monitors both landlord and tenant program compliance. Tenants pay their portion of the rent directly to the landlord, and HCP pays the remainder of the rent directly to the landlord as well.
So the unit is subsidized, not the tenant?
That’s right. If a tenant moves, the landlord can rent the unit again to another tenant who is income-eligible. HCP keeps a waiting list of eligible households, so a landlord’s chance of having a vacancy between tenants is very low.
How are rents determined?
Rents for units in the program should be comparable to market rents for the area in which the unit is located.
Rent payments are made in advance?
Yes, rent payments are made in advance quarterly for all units in the program—so no waiting until the 1st of every month!
How are tenants screened? Can a landlord do their own tenant screening?
HCP determines a tenant’s income eligibility for the program, but landlords are encouraged to screen tenants just as in any other rental situation. HCP can also work with landlords to create and follow a tenant selection plan, which includes the management of potential tenant applications and waiting lists.
Once a tenant is in a unit, what is HCP’s role?
There is currently no time limit for tenants in the RHSP program, so HCP wants to ensure a healthy relationship between landlords and tenants for the long term. HCP provides ongoing support for both the landlord and tenants to mediate any potential disputes that may arise, ensure program rules are being met by all parties, and connect tenants with any needed social services.