Services for Families

You must enroll in the Community Choice Demonstration Research Study in order to have a chance to be selected to receive the services detailed on this page.

Families enrolled in the Community Choice Demonstration Research Study are randomly selected to receive mobility-related services. If selected to receive services, you will work with a Mobility Coordinator who will support you in making a move to a designated Opportunity Area within the services areas of Metro HRA and Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA). Your Mobility Coordinator will meet with you to discuss your family’s housing and community needs, develop a family preparation plan, work with you to conduct your housing search, and assist you in contacting property owners.

We can only assist families in finding homes in designated Opportunity Areas, where children and families are expected to have the best opportunity to thrive. Opportunity Areas are neighborhoods that have historically been difficult for families with vouchers to move into because of systemic barriers, such as the cost of housing in these areas or a lack of eligible property owners that accept vouchers. Many families with vouchers want to move into Opportunity Areas because they offer high-quality schools and other public amenities.

Families that enroll in the study and are randomly selected to receive services will be offered these benefits:

  • Pre-move support: Help with thinking through which neighborhoods are the best fit for you and your family. The program will also help you get ready to put in applications. That looks different for every family. It might mean attending one or more workshops or getting additional support from one of our partner agencies.
  • Housing search assistance: Help finding properties in Opportunity Areas and owners that are willing to participate in the program.
  • Move-related financial assistance: Help with paying the security deposit and some other move-related expenses.
  • Faster processing: Community Choice staff will help you and the property owner fill out the paperwork and efficiently process it with Metro HRA or MPHA.
  • Post-move support: Offered in the form of information and resources about your new neighborhood.

If you are enrolled and are selected to receive these services, you will only be able to receive services for moves to an Opportunity Area. If you choose not to move to an Opportunity Area, your voucher will not be affected.

First step: Enroll in the research study

If you have a Housing Choice Voucher from Metro HRA and you are interested in the Community Choice Demonstration, visit the study enrollment page for more information about next steps. If you have a Housing Choice Voucher from MPHA and you are interested in enrolling in the study, go to MPHA’s Community Choice enrollment page. Some families on the wait list will also be invited to enroll in the research study; Metro HRA will reach out to you directly if you are invited.

To be eligible to enroll in the study, you must:

  1. Be a current Housing Choice Voucher holder at Metro HRA or MPHA
  2. Have at least one child aged 17 or under (for current voucher holders)

Families who are open to moving to an opportunity area and have time to receive services before moving (we recommend about 4 months prior to your expected move) are in the best position to benefit from the services that may be offered to you as part of the research study.

The research study is completely voluntary. Families are not required to enroll. However, enrolling in the research study is the only way to have a chance to be randomly selected to receive the services offered through the Community Choice Demonstration.

Contact the Metro HRA research study enrollment team at 651-602-1401 or [email protected] if you have additional questions or are interested in enrolling in the research study.

Frequently asked questions

A Housing Choice Voucher, historically called “Section 8,” is a rental subsidy for low- income households in the United States. The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the largest federal subsidized housing program for low -income households in the US. State and regional authorities operate 2,500 voucher programs around the country. In the Twin Cities the Metro HRA and MPHA are two of ten housing authorities that operate the Housing Choice Voucher program.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is not an entitlement program, and only about a quarter of families who qualify for the program actually receive a voucher. There are typically long waiting lists for families who want to receive vouchers.

Families who receive vouchers search for housing on the private rental market. The voucher acts as a coupon, so families can find housing affordable to them, and they only pay a portion of the rent. The housing authority pays the rest. If the family has no income, the voucher will typically cover the whole cost of the rent and provide the family with a subsidy to pay utilities. Vouchers are subject to regional rental ceilings, called payment standards, where the housing authority can pay only up to a certain amount for a unit based on the neighborhood, bedroom size, and amenities included in the unit.

Housing authorities are subject to limits set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which sets regional limits on how much the housing authority can pay based on the number of bedrooms the family qualifies for. The limit is called the payment standard, and includes rent plus renter-paid utilities. Payment standards are dependent on the location of the unit:

For the designated Opportunity Areas in Metro HRA and MPHA that are part of the Community Choice Demonstration you can use the Address Locator Tool to view the payment standards, as well as the estimated rental price limit for that neighborhood. The numbers provide an estimated rental price a Housing Choice Voucher family with no income can afford.

Many families can pay more than the payment standard based on their household income. The Metro HRA will help you and the family determine if your unit is affordable to them.

Opportunity Areas are neighborhoods or communities in the Metro HRA and MPHA service areas where children and families are expected to have the best opportunity to thrive. Researchers and local experts developed the list of Opportunity Areas based on data on school quality, long-term economic outcomes for children, poverty rates and other social and economic neighborhood criteria. Opportunity Areas are defined based on census tracts and block groups, which are area designations developed by the U.S. Census Bureau.

View the Opportunity Areas

Your family is eligible if:

  • You have a voucher from the Metro HRA or Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA)
  • You have at least one child in your household age 17 or younger.

A small number of families from the current Metro HRA and MPHA Housing Choice Voucher waitlists are also being invited to participate through invitation only.

The Community Choice Demonstration helps families [embed link to Services for Families page] with Housing Choice Vouchers find homes in designated Opportunity Areas in the Metro HRA and MPHA service areas. If you think you are eligible to participate in the Community Choice Demonstration, you may want to think about the following:

  • Are you willing to move? Would you consider moving to a new neighborhood in an Opportunity Area?
  • Do you have time to search for your housing in a new neighborhood or do you need to move very quickly? Families who need immediate or emergency housing may not have enough time to benefit from the services provided through participation in the program.

No. If you choose not to lease-up in an opportunity area, your voucher will not be affected. However, you will not be eligible to receive mobility-related services or financial assistance unless you move to an opportunity area. When you submit a Request for Tenancy Approval in a non-Opportunity Area, services will stop. You will be eligible to receive services and financial incentives the next time you move, if you move to an Opportunity Area during the study period.

Contact the Metro HRA at [email protected] or 651-602-1401 to learn more about the research study and see if you qualify. 

We recommend you watch the informational video before you contact us to give you a good understanding of the research study and the Community Choice Demonstration services.