How the Program Works


CHA’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program allows low-income families to rent quality housing in the private market via federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Through the HCV Program, CHA pays a portion of eligible families’ rent each month directly to the landlord. Families can use their vouchers to rent a house or apartment in the private market throughout the city of Chicago.  Because there are more families who need rental assistance than there are funds available, CHA uses a waiting list to administer the program to eligible families. Names are selected from the waiting list randomly using a lottery process. Once selected the following steps summarize the process to become a HCV family:FSS7

  1. Apply and interview
  2. Attend a voucher briefing
  3. Use your voucher
  4. Await inspection results
  5. Await rent decision
  6. Sign the lease
  7. Move in, pay rent and utilities
  8. Comply with HUD and CHA’s rules and regulations

After admission to the program, all household members must abide by the Family Obligations to remain on the program. 

For the HCV program's official policies, see the HCV Administrative Plan. For more information for participants, see the Participant Guidebook and the Procedure Guide. 

Waiting list

When a family wishes to receive assistance, the family must submit an application, when the wait list lottery is open. CHA randomly selects applicants and assigns them a position on the wait list.  Generally, when a voucher becomes available, the next family at the top of the waiting list is contacted and screened for eligibility. Currently CHA's Waiting List is closed. CHA will provide notice through a variety of media outlets when it reopens. 


Applicant families must meet the following eligibility requirements to qualify for the program:

  • Meet HUD’s definition of family
  • Meet income limits specified by HUD
  • Qualify on the basis of citizenship or the eligible immigrant status
  • Provide social security number information
  • Sign required consent forms
  • Pass screening process



Effective January 1, 2017, CHA will bill the initial PHA for the Participant’s Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and fees associated with administering the voucher.

An eligible family that has been issued a housing choice voucher may use that voucher to lease a unit anywhere in the United States where there is a housing agency operating a HCV program. This feature of the program is referred to as portability. CHA’s HCV program allows for families with a voucher from another housing authority to transfer their voucher to Chicago. This process is called “porting in” to CHA. The process of transferring a voucher from one city to another varies, depending on a number of factors.  To view CHA’s current rules on portability see the Portability Flyer.


Effective July 1, 2018: In an effort to limit the instances in which two different property owners have legitimate claims to a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) for the same HCV Program tenant, the Chicago Housing Authority will only accept leases where the lease effective date is either the 2nd or the 16th of the month.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Payment standards

Payment standards represent the maximum amount of subsidy that CHA can provide a family. CHA does not automatically approve this rent level for a given unit. CHA's monthly rent subsidy depends on a number of factors, including payment standards, the rents of other comparable unsubsidized rental units in the area, and the income of the family. Please see CHA's 2018 Payment Standards. As part of CHA's commitment to provide voucher holders access to more Chicago neighborhoods, CHA implemented an Exception Payment Standard policy.

Please see CHA's Rent Determination Process and procedures on approving rent increases

utility allowance

Participants in the HCV program pay approximately 30% of their income for rent and utilities. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has defined Total Tenant Payment (TTP) for "rent" to include both shelter and the costs for reasonable amounts of utilities. The amount determined necessary cover the resident's reasonable utility costs is the utility allowance. Please see CHA's 2018 Utility Allowance Schedule.

Modification fund

HCV participants or household members are eligible to receive a reasonable modification to existing premises, which are occupied or will be occupied by the person with a disability. To qualify for a modification, participants must (1) have a verifiable disability and (2) submit a Reasonable Accommodation request which is subject to approval by CHA's Housing Rights and Nondiscrimination Department. For more information about this program, please contact CHA's Housing Rights and Nondiscrimination Department at 312-913-7062 or

Regional Office Locations

CHA operates three Regional Offices to accommodate in-person visits. HCV Program participants will go to one of these offices to attend appointments and conduct business with CHA.

All HCV Program offices are open from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday*.

*Beginning July 2, 2018, the HCV West Office (2750 W. Roosevelt Road) will only see walk-in clients requiring assistance from back-office personnel, including housing specialists and managers, on Mondays and Fridays. The office will be open to clients by appointment only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The South and Central Offices will transition to this same schedule on October 1, 2018.

Servicing offices are assigned based on ZIP code. Please reference the chart below to determine which office services your area. Note: The location of your HCV Program Regional Office may have changed.

Regional Office Locations and ZIP Codes Served

Central Office

South Office

West Office

60 E. Van Buren St.
Chicago, IL 60605 

10 W. 35th Street
5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60616 

2750 W. Roosevelt Road
Chicago, IL 60608

Zip Codes Served: 

  • 60601
  • 60602
  • 60603
  • 60604
  • 60605
  • 60606
  • 60610
  • 60611
  • 60613
  • 60614
  • 60622
  • 60625
  • 60626
  • 60640
  • 60642
  • 60645
  • 60654
  • 60657
  • 60659
  • 60660
  • 60661

Zip Codes Served: 

  • 60615
  • 60616
  • 60617
  • 60619
  • 60620
  • 60628
  • 60633
  • 60637
  • 60643
  • 60649
  • 60653
  • 60655
  • 60827


Zip Codes Served: 

  • 60607
  • 60608
  • 60609
  • 60612
  • 60618
  • 60621
  • 60623
  • 60624
  • 60629
  • 60630
  • 60631
  • 60632
  • 60634
  • 60636
  • 60638
  • 60639
  • 60641
  • 60644
  • 60646
  • 60647
  • 60651
  • 60652
  • 60656
  • 60707

The Central Office services any ZIP codes not referenced above, all Applicants to the HCV Program as well as those who participate in CHA’s Special Programs (Family Self-Sufficiency, Mobility Counseling and Choose To Own Homeownership).

Every Regional provides a resource center that includes a wide range of information, internet access, property listings.  Each resource center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. No appointment is necessary.


A complete list of Housing Choice Voucher questions is available.