The Family Unification Program (FUP) is a program under which Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) are provided to two different populations:
1: Families that are facing a child or children being placed in out-side-of-home care (such as foster or group care) or that have a child or children in out-of-home-care because of inadequate housing.
2: Youths who are at least 18 years old, but have not yet turned 25, who are exiting foster care and will become or are at risk of becoming homeless.
Who is Eligible?
The two categories have differing requirements as listed below:
1: For families, Dane County Human Services will verify that this is a family for whom the lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in either the:
- Imminent placement of the family’s child or children in out-of-home care, or
- Delay of discharge of a child or children to the family from out-of-home care.
2. For youth, Dane County Human Services will certify that:
- the youth is at least 18 years old and not more than 24 years old (has not reached his/her 25th birthday)
- that he/she left foster care at age 16 or older or will leave foster care within 90 days, in accordance with a transition plan, and is homeless or at risk of homelessness. (for a definition of “at risk of homelessness, visit the HUD website)
After Dane County Human Services certifies and refers the family or youth to the Dane County Housing Authority, the Housing Authority will then determine whether the family or youth meet HCV program eligibility requirements, including income eligibility. Once the Dane County Housing Authority determines that the family or youth meets HCV eligibility requirements, the family or youth may be issued a voucher.
Income eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the Dane County Housing Authority based on the total annual gross income and family size compared with the HUD-established income limits for the area. In general, the family’s or youth’s income may not exceed 50 percent of the median income (very low-income limit) for the county or metropolitan area in which the family or youth chooses to live. By law, Dane County Housing Authority must provide 75 percent of its vouchers to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30 percent (extremely low-income limit) of the area median income. Median income levels are published by HUD and vary by location. To check, visit the HUD website and enter the state and county you live in.
How does the process work?
After the Dane County Humane Services and the Dane County Housing Authority have verified eligibility, the Housing Authority will processes the paperwork for the FUP voucher to be issued.
In addition to rental assistance, supportive services must be provided to FUP youths by the Dane County Human Services for the first 18 months that the youth participates in the program. Examples of the skills targeted by these services include money management skills, job preparation, educational counseling, and proper nutrition and meal preparation. The program does not require supportive services for families; however, they may be made available to families as well.
Once I have a FUP voucher, what do I do next?
It is the responsibility of the family or youth to find a unit that meets their needs. Once the family or youth finds a suitable unit and the owner is willing to lease the unit under the program, the family or youth must request tenancy approval from the Dane County Housing Authority. The family or youth must submit a request for tenancy approval (RFTA) no later than the expiration date stated on the voucher. If the Housing Authority determines that the unit meets housing quality standards, that the rent is reasonable, and that the unit meets other program requirements, they will establish a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract with the property owner. This contract authorizes the Housing Authority to make rent subsidy payments on behalf of the family or youth. The family or youth will then execute a lease with the owner.
Where can I use my FUP voucher?
A family or youth may choose a unit anywhere in the United States where there is a Public Housing Authority that administers the Housing Choice program. However, new voucher holders not living in the jurisdiction of the Dane County Housing Authority at the time the family or youth applied for housing assistance may be required to lease a unit within Dane County for the first 12 months of assistance.
How much rent do FUP vouchers cover?
The FUP program operates under the same regulations for determining rent as the Housing Choice (or section 8) program. Specifically, the Dane County Housing Authority pays the owner the lower of:
(a) the payment standard for the family or youth minus the total tenant payment (TTP); or (
b) the gross rent (rent and utility allowance) minus the TTP.
The TTP is the minimum amount a family or youth must contribute towards rent and utilities. Generally, the TTP is 30 percent of the family’s or youth’s monthly adjusted income. The payment standard is generally set by the Housing Authority at any level between 90 and 110 percent of the HUD determined Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a particular unit size. The FMR for Dane county can be found at the HUD website. The family or youth may choose a unit with a higher rent than the payment standard and pay the owner the difference. However, the family share must not exceed 40 percent of the family’s or youth’s adjusted monthly income at the time the Housing Authority approves a tenancy for initial occupancy of a dwelling unit.