The Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program is designed to offer voucher recipients flexibility in where they live. This flexibility includes the freedom to move while maintaining voucher assistance. If a family decides to move to another city,their voucher can be transferred along with them. However, there are certain steps and things recipients should consider before moving to a new city.
To be approved for a transfer, a family must fulfill the obligations of their current lease agreement and give their landlord proper notice (usually 30 days). This means you are not permitted to end a lease early or in any other way violate the agreement with your decision to move. If you are to violate your lease agreement, your Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers may be withheld until the issue is resolved. When you decide to move, notify your current Public Housing Authority (or PHA) and let them know you’d like the vouchers transferred.
Moving to a New State with Section 8
If you are moving to a new home in the same area you will remain under the jurisdiction of your current PHA and paperwork will be minimal. Your PHA will issue a new voucher to be signed by your new landlord and yourself and the home will be inspected to ensure it meets the PHA’s Housing Quality Standards.
However, if you are searching for a home in a new jurisdiction, your family must abide by the receiving PHA’s policies. This may differ for each PHA, so be sure to contact your future PHA to understand your requirements. Things that may differ include request for tenancy approval and inspection of the leasing unit, among other things.
If you plan to move out of the jurisdiction of your current PHA, additionally check that the city or area you plan to move to has Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program coverage as not everywhere in the U.S. does. Your current PHA is required to provide you with information regarding this – often referred to as portability.Information regarding portability should include maps of neighborhoods with lower poverty and nearby job opportunities.
Check Your Eligibility
The Documentation Process with Your PHA
Once you have a new destination in mind, your current PHA will gather documentation, which may include forms from HUD, family birth certificates, social security cards, IDs and income information, among other things, to complete your PortabilityRelease Form. They will then coordinate with your new PHA to transfer the documentation. Paperwork involved with this process can often take a few weeks to process so it’s important to begin the process as soon as you decide to move to avoid a lapse in voucher coverage.
However, if you are a relatively new voucher recipient (you started receiving vouchers less than a year ago), your options may be limited initially. For new recipients, you must ensure that you are living in the jurisdiction of the PHA that issued the voucher when you first applied for assistance, at least for the time being. If you want to move to an area outside the jurisdiction, you may be at risk of temporarily losing your vouchers. When first receiving vouchers, you must ensure that you remain within the jurisdiction of the original PHA for 12 full months before moving to the jurisdiction of another PHA. After a full year, you may continue with the normal process for receiving vouchers while moving.
After your Portability Release Form has been processed, you will likely be asked to attend an in-person meeting at your new PHA before receiving a new voucher. Just as you did when you first received a voucher, you will need to choose housing in your new city that meets the Housing Quality Standards set by your new PHA.
PHA Requirements for Moving Families Under Section 8
It is also a good idea to contact the PHA in the area you plan to move to gather area-specific information on coverage – some PHA’s may require this. For example, a PHA may require a moving family to participate in a briefing or the PHA may ask for are examination of income. Some areas require you to have lived in the state where your voucher was first given for at least one year before moving out of state. However, a PHA is not allowed to delay a given search for housing without justifiable reason, such as requiring a family to wait an additional month due to a reexamination of income.
A PHA may additionally stay updated on a Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher recipient to assess the program. The information that a PHA may keep in a log includes, but is not limited to:
- Name of Participant
- Expiration Date of Voucher
- Request for Tenancy Approval
- Name of initial PHA
With all of this in mind, you can now move while maintaining eligibility for Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher Program. Important things to remember are to remain in good contact with both your current and future PHA in order to ensure proper coordination. Additionally, you must not violate your current lease agreement,and you need to remain in the original jurisdiction of the issuing PHA for at least 12 months before receiving vouchers from another PHA.