Section 8 Portability
One of the features of the housing choice voucher program is the mobility of the assistance. Section 8(r) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 provides that housing choice voucher participants may choose a unit that meets program requirements anywhere in the United States, provided a PHA administering the tenant-based program has jurisdiction over the area in which the unit is located. The term "portability" refers to the process of leasing or purchasing a dwelling unit with housing voucher tenant-based assistance outside of the jurisdiction of the PHA that initially issues the family its voucher (the initial PHA). Program regulations covering where a family may move and the responsibilities of the Initial PHA and the Receiving PHA (the PHA with jurisdiction over the area to which the family moves) are found at 24 CFR sections 982.353 through 982.355.
When a family moves under portability, the Receiving PHA may choose to absorb the family into its program or bill the initial PHA. The program regulations at 24 CFR 982.355(e) provide that the Receiving PHA may bill the initial PHA for housing assistance payments (HAP) and administrative fees to fund the assistance for a portable family. The regulations require that the initial PHA must promptly reimburse the Receiving PHA for the full amount of the HAP payments and 80% of the ongoing administrative fee (or a negotiated amount if both PHAs agree) for each month the family receives assistance from the Receiving PHA.
The regulations further provide that the Initial PHA and the Receiving PHA must comply with financial procedures required by HUD, including the use of HUD required billing forms. The Initial PHA and Receiving PHA must also comply with filing and payment deadlines under the financial procedures. HUD may assess penalties against either PHA for violations as determined by HUD of the portability requirements.
The PHA must administer its housing choice voucher program in compliance with all applicable fair housing requirements, including the authorities cited at 24 CRF 5.105(a) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The PHA must also affirmatively further fair housing in accordance with 24 CFR 903.7(o) by identifying and addressing any impediments to fair housing choice, including helping families use their vouchers to move to non-minority concentrated areas both within its jurisdiction and through portability moves. See 24 CFR 982.53 for the equal opportunity requirements for the Housing Choice Voucher program.
The Initial PHA is required to contact the Receiving PHA via email, telephone, or fax to determine whether the Receiving PHA will bill or absorb the family's voucher. Based on the Receiving PHA's response, the Initial PHA must determine whether the family's portability request will be approved or denied. Obtain the name and telephone number of the staff person responsible for working with incoming portability family and any procedures related to appointments for voucher issuance required by the Receiving PHA because the Initial PHA must provide this information to the family.
Applicant Family Requests Portability
A family that has not yet leased a unit under the housing choice voucher program is eligible for portability if the head of household or spouse was a resident of the Initial PHA's jurisdiction at the time the application for assistance was submitted. A "resident", for determining eligibility for portability, is a person who has a legal domicile in the jurisdiction.
A non-resident family may be required to initially lease a unit with its housing choice voucher in the Initial PHA's jurisdiction. However, the Initial PHA has the authority (but no obligation) to allow a new voucher holder that was not living in its jurisdiction at a time of application to exercise portability. The Initial PHA may decide to allow portability for a family new to its jurisdiction in certain instances, such as when the move would respond to a special family need, but not allow such moves in other instances. It is important for the Initial PHA to establish a policy and document the reasons for discretionary decisions to avoid any perception of discrimination.
The Initial PHA must determine if the applicant family is income eligible to move into the area the family wishes to move by comparing the family's income to the applicable-income limit for the area to which the family wishes to move.