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What's the difference between MHA vouchers?

If you partner with MHA, you know that a lot of our housing programs use a voucher system. Most often, we talk about the Housing Choice Voucher Program. However, you may also hear us mention Project Based Vouchers, Tenant Based Vouchers and Emergency Housing Vouchers, among others. All of them give families essential housing support, but they all work a little differently. We explain the purpose of each voucher below.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program includes all types of vouchers.

When we talk about vouchers, we usually reference the HCV program. That’s for good reason – every type of voucher falls under the HCV umbrella. If your family has a voucher with MHA, then you’re part of the HCV program. MHA’s HCV program guidelines determine the unit size, income level, and other factors that shape how families and individuals can use each type of voucher.

Tenant Based Vouchers are assigned to a specific person who rents a unit in the public market.

TBVs are what families and people use to rent houses and units in the public marketplace. They are not tied to a specific housing complex or community. In fact, TBVs are portable and can be used in any city across the United States where the public housing authority operates a housing choice voucher program.  While TBV holders have more choice when it comes to where they live, their unit has to meet MHA’s standards. This includes passing an inspection, meeting monthly rent limits, being appropriately sized for the voucher holder’s family, and having a landlord who agrees to work within the federal program regulations.

Project Based Vouchers are based on a specific site or complex.

PBVs are used to rent units at specific housing complexes. These complexes are run by various developer entities in partnership with MHA. Many of the housing sites are mixed-income – meaning people renting units using a PBV will live alongside people who are not receiving housing assistance. This makes the PBV different from Public Housing, which MHA is phasing out through the RAD Conversion process. This isn’t our most common type of voucher – only 20% of all of our vouchers can be PBVs.

Emergency Housing Vouchers are specially issued to help people who urgently need housing.

Through partnerships with nonprofits, government agencies and Memphis Housing Authority, the Department of Housing and Urban Development can provide special vouchers called Emergency Housing Vouchers. EHVs are meant to provide immediate housing stability for people in dire need of a safe place to live because of circumstances outside of their control. MHA receives referrals for its EHV program from Community Alliance for the Homeless (CATH).

Mainstream Vouchers and HUD-VASH Vouchers are two other voucher types to know.

All American citizens who meet income criteria and can pass a background check could meet the eligibility requirements for any of the vouchers we’ve mentioned so far. But Mainstream Vouchers and HUD-VASH Vouchers support specific groups of people whose housing needs are especially urgent. Mainstream Vouchers support non-elderly adults with disabilities who would otherwise qualify for the HCV program.

HUD-VASH Vouchers provide support to veterans who are facing homelessness. Often people receive these vouchers because they’ve connected with MHA through another social support organization, like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The important thing to remember is that all types of vouchers fall within the HCV program. We’re not currently accepting HCV waitlist applications, but are working through our current waitlist and will connect with you when our waitlist reopens.