Voucher Holders

Once an applicant has been determined eligible, and the Chelmsford Housing Authority has available funding, a briefing will be scheduled. At this briefing applicants will learn all about how the Section 8 program works, the rules and regulations that must be adhered to and the process of leasing up on this program.

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher will also be issued at this briefing. The voucher will state the number of bedrooms the applicant has been approved for and each applicant will be given individual guidance as to what amount of rent would be affordable for them.

Affordable Apartments
An apartment is considered affordable based on a calculation that has three main components:

  1. Income:
    The voucher holder must pay minimum 30% and no more than 40% of gross income towards the rent.
  2. Payment Standard:
    Set by the Housing Authority and based on annual Fair Market Rent figures published annually by HUD for each area. The payment standard presumes that utilities are included in the rent and not paid separately by the tenant.

Chelmsford Housing Authority Payment Standards, effective January 1st, 2024

Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Groton, Tyngsboro, Westford
Studio 1 Bedroom 2 Bedroom 3 Bedroom 4 Bedroom 5 Bedroom
$1,505 $1,669 $2,194 $2,653 $2,922 $3,360
Carlisle, Littleton, Townsend
Studio 1 Bedroom 2 Bedroom 3 Bedroom 4 Bedroom 5 Bedroom
$2,433 $2,614 $3,109 $3,759 $4,141 $4,761
2023 SRO Studio 1 Bedroom 2 Bedroom 3 Bedroom 4 Bedroom 5 Bedroom
Lowell $1,128 $1,505 $1,669 $2,194 $2,653 $2,922 $3,360
Boston $1,824 $2,433 $2,614 $3,109 $3,759 $4,141 $4,761
Lawrence $1,071 $1,428 $1,631 $2,108 $2,561 $2,808 $3,228


Please note: The payment standard is only one of the factors used to determine affordability of a unit, and should be used only as a guide.
The payment standard presumes utilities will be included in rent and paid for by the landlord.

Gross Rent:
The following table is included to give landlords and voucher holders an idea of the utility payment a tenant might be expected to pay. This should be helpful to both landlord and tenant to determine if the requested rent for an apartment is going to be affordable.
A utility allowance for an apartment is determined based on a utility schedule, updated annually.

Current Average Utility Allowances for Local Chelmsford Areas
(effective January 1st, 2023)

Studio 1 Bedroom 2 Bedroom 3 Bedroom 4 Bedroom 5 Bedroom
Full Utilities(Electric Heating) $326 $426 $574 $712 $871 $974
Electricity Only $153 $197 $264 $326 $402 $436

Current Payment Standards &
Utility Chart for Chelmsford Housing

Please note:

Because the affordability calculation is so complex and individual, the voucher holder should contact the Housing Authority to determine affordability for a specific unit.

The payment standard alone is not an indication of affordability. Very low income earners will require a rent less than the payment standard to qualify.

Leasing a Unit
Once a unit is deemed to be affordable, and the CHA has all the paperwork needed from both the landlord and tenant, the unit will be inspected. Once the unit passes inspection, the lease-up process is finalized and the housing authority approves the tenant to move in. If the unit fails inspection, the housing authority cannot complete the lease-up or start payments.

If a tenant decides to move into prior to the unit passing inspection, and / or without Chelmsford Housing Authority approval, the tenant is responsible for the full amount of the rent until approval is given.

After the unit passes inspection and is approved by the housing authority, a HAP contract is executed with the landlord and payments begin.

Security Deposit, First & Last Month
The tenant is responsible for the security deposit and for any pre-payment of the first and last month’s rent.

It is a requirement of the program that a lease be signed between the owner and the tenant and a copy must be submitted to the housing authority for approval.

When the lease is received the Chelmsford Housing Authority will attach a copy of the Tenancy Addendum to the lease and give a copy to the tenant.

The tenancy addendum includes the tenancy requirements for the program and the family composition and it considered part of the lease. If there is a dispute with the landlord, the tenant is allowed to enforce this addendum.

Tenancy Addendum

Annual Reexaminations
Every year, a reexamination will be conducted. The tenant will be sent a packet of forms to complete, and must provide all banking and income information for the household. The rent will be recalculated based on this new information. At this time, the landlord may also submit a request for a rent increase.

Changes in Income or Family
Any changes in the family or household composition, or any changes in income, must be reported to the housing authority within 10 business days. Prior approval by the housing authority must be given to add someone, other than a new baby, to your family composition.

Enterprise Income Verification (EIV)
The Chelmsford Housing Authority now uses EIV. The Enterprise Income Verification (EIV) system is a web-based computer system that contains employment and income information of individuals who participate in HUD rental assistance programs.  HUD obtains this information about program participants from the local Housing Authority, the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS provides HUD with wage and employment information as reported by employers, and unemployment compensation information as reported by the State Workforce Agency.
For more information on EIV please click on one of the following links.

What you should know about EIV What you should know about EIV (Spanish)

Moving to a New Unit
The tenant has a right to move to a new unit, provided that the lease term has been completed and an appropriate notice has been given to both the landlord and the housing authority. The lease-up process for a move to a new unit is the same as previously detailed and the tenant will have to provide current income and banking information and complete a tenant packet.

Program participants wishing to move should be aware that the process takes a minimum of 2 weeks.

Program participants with a project-based voucher cannot move to another unit as the voucher is with the unit and not the tenant. If a tenant-based voucher is available, the housing authority may be able to approve such a move.

Moving to another Area – “Porting”

A program participant with a ‘portable’ tenant-based voucher is allowed to move with the voucher anywhere in the United States and Puerto Rico that is in the jurisdiction of a housing authority that administers the Section 8 voucher program. The Chelmsford Housing Authority does have discretion to deny permission to move if there is insufficient funding or other grounds for denial.

Program participants with a project-based voucher do not have the same right to move to another area as the voucher is with the unit and not the tenant. If a portable voucher is available, the housing authority may be able to approve such a move.