Transfer section 8 voucher from the portability program
Find how the HUD portability program allows families who are in a section 8 home or apartment to move. Tenants who are in the housing choice voucher program, or HCV, can relocate to another town, city, county or state for family reasons, work, or other needs. Section 8 does allow low-income tenants to move into a new home or apartment. Learn about the section 8 portability program below and how to apply.
Changes in employment, marital or health status and personal circumstances frequently require families who are in section 8 housing to relocate within their local communities and states or, at times, to a new state. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development does allow the HCV voucher to be transferred, if qualifications are met. Find the rules and how to get a packet for a transfer below.
Persons receiving rental subsidies as part of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, also referred to as Section 8 housing, can relocate while maintaining the subsidy but must carefully prepare for the move. There are income and other criteria, and applicants need to strictly follow procedures to ensure this valuable housing benefit is maintained.
What is porting a section 8 voucher?
"Portability" refers to the transfer process that allows a voucher holder to relocate and maintain the housing subsidy at a new location outside of the current PHA jurisdiction. Housing vouchers are designed to be transferred, allowing moves to any location in the U.S. in which a PHA operates a voucher program.
Since section 8 is a nationwide program, it may be beneficial to port (or transfer) the voucher to another home, state or apartment. The HCV program is the federal government's primary program to help elderly, disabled, and very low-income persons find safe and sanitary housing in the private market. The program is operated by more than 2,000 public housing agencies (PHAs) in local communities with funds provided by HUD.
When transferring the voucher, the amount of the rental subsidy is determined by local area median income plus family size and composition. This means the tenant may receive more or less financial assistance when they use the portability program to move.
Regardless of where the family lives, the housing voucher program is expected to pay at least an amount equal to 30% of their adjusted gross income for rent and sometimes utilities in the new area. Under the Section 8 voucher program, the PHA pays a portion of the rent directly to a landlord, and the participating family must pay the difference between the rental subsidy and the actual rent charged by the landlord.
A person can choose any rental residence within the PHA's jurisdiction as long as the landlord is willing to participate in the program. This means that a family or person who movies also has a choice of places to live. The PHA determines if the requested rental amount is reasonable and also inspects the residence to ensure it meets minimum health and safety standards. If the residence is approved, the tenant and landlord sign a one-year lease while the landlord and PHA enter into a one-year contract committing the PHA to provide rental assistance.
How to transfer the Section 8 housing choice voucher
While the rules and process procedures may vary slightly with each PHA, the general process involves similar steps. You must notify the current PHA that issued the section 8 vouchers as soon as you decide to move and provide the location of your planned residence. The landlord or property owned should be notified as soon as possible.
The PHA may give you a transfer packet of forms to complete that includes a 30 or 60-day notice to be given to your landlord. Proper notice that you are vacating the premises must be given to the landlord as required in your rental agreement. This will allow the section 8 housing to be transfered to another state.
Persons must usually reside in the location of their current PHA for one year before being allowed to port into a new jurisdiction. However, the current PHA may allow moves before meeting the one-year residency requirement if the family has special circumstances, such as a disability, to care for a family member, loss of a job, divorce or medical crisis. To be approved for porting, persons must be current in payments to the agency and landlord and not in violation of any lease provisions or program rules.
The current PHA will determine whether you are eligible for Section 8 portability and provide you with information to contact the receiving PHA in the new city or state. If there is more than one PHA serving the area in which you plan to move, you may select which PHA you wish to administer your voucher. Another option for families to explore is the Small Area Fair Market Rents program from HUD, which also allows people to move nearby.
The current housing authority will notify the receiving PHA of the planned move and check to ensure that the qualifying requirements for its HCV program are similar to those of your current residence. This can limit the type of move that is done. But since you already have a voucher, the receiving PHA should not need to qualify you for rental assistance.
If you are eligible to move or transfer the section 8 HUD voucher, the current PHA will issue a voucher for the new home, apartment, townhome or condo. Some non-profits may provide rental or security deposit help. The existing landlord/property owner will send the required documents to the receiving PHA, including HUD forms, birth certificates, copies of Social Security cards, photos for identification purposes, and proof of household income. Locate section 8 housing for rent with no deposit.
Once you arrive in the new location, you must contact the new PHA and follow its procedures and rules, which may differ from your current program. Interviews may be required if the household composition or income amount has changed. There will also need to be proof of income, assets and other criteria. The receiving PHA will issue a new voucher allowing you to look for housing in the new location.
Every PHA has different income and family size limits for the portability program. The subsidy amount may change, or you may not be able to rent a home with the same number of bedrooms. A wise move may be to research the various PHAs operating in the region where you plan to live and contact the expected receiving PHA before moving.
You may be able to obtain an estimate of the voucher amount you can expect to receive and learn about the type of housing for which you qualify. The home will always still be in the private rental market. Other useful information may include whether the PHA operates a Family Self-Sufficiency or Home Ownership program.
How long does the section 8 portability transfer take?
Timing is often critical for Section 8 portability to ensure there is no interruption of the subsidy during the move. Time must be allowed to accommodate the receiving PHA's process and appointments, plus inspection of and rent approval for the chosen residence. Sometimes the voucher can be transferred in an emergency with no waiting list.
HUD estimates the porting process should be completed within 30-45 days, but the process may take longer based on the workload of the receiving PHA or if the information provided to it is incomplete. Some property owners – landlords are faster than others. Or no wait list low income apartments, that are affordable and cheap, can be used. Persons planning to relocate should apply for portability well in advance of the move. Read more on cheap apartments with no waiting list.
Failing to allow sufficient time to process the move may leave you without a roof over your head for a short period. However, if you move too quickly, you may end up moving into a new residence before the lease on your old residence has terminated. In that case, you would be required to pay full rent at the new residence until the subsidy is scheduled to begin.
Like anyone undertaking a move, HCV participants need to plan for extra expenses, including security deposits, moving costs, transportation, and living expenses during the move. Utility connection costs should be included in the moving budget. Section 8 will not pay those costs.
Tenants transferring their section 8 voucher to another state or town, that have an eviction on their record, may struggle to find an apartment to rent. Government programs as well as non-profits offer low-income tenants a second chance to try to get them into a home. Locate apartments near you that accept evictions.
Plans for short-term housing should be in place in case the porting process takes longer than planned. Relatives or friends might provide a solution for short-term housing. Otherwise, look for places that offer a short-term lease and include potential costs in your budget. Some charities also help low-income families pay a rental deposit on a section 8 home when moving.
Or look into a short term, emergency homesharing program. Planning for school registration, childcare, and employment in the new location will also ease the transition to a new home. Read more on homesharing housing programs.
Moving under any circumstances tends to be stressful. For persons who rely on the section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program to help them pay their rent, doing what is needed to maintain this critical subsidy may increase anxiety. However, with proper planning even using HUD resources, and a little research families can successfully relocate using the HUD portability program while ensuring that the subsidy on which they depend continues without interruption.
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