HUD Publishes Final Rule Amending Voucher Portability Regulations

HUD recently published the final rule amending the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) portability regulations. The purpose of the amendments is to clarify existing requirements, streamline the portability process for public housing agencies (PHAs), and make it easier for families with vouchers to relocate to areas that may offer greater opportunities. Portability allows a family with a voucher to use it to rent a home anywhere in the country where there is a PHA operating a HCV program. A voucher holder who is moving from one jurisdiction to another is considered to be “porting in.”

The PHA in the jurisdiction from which a family moves is called the “initial PHA,” while the PHA in the jurisdiction to which a family is moving is called the “receiving PHA.” The final rule clarifies existing language by stating that a receiving PHA cannot refuse to assist families wishing to “port in,” and cannot direct them to another neighboring PHA. However, HUD may determine that in certain situations a receiving PHA is not required to accept a family wishing to port in—for instance, a PHA in a disaster area.

In addition, with regard to portability, the final rule requires the voucher term of the receiving PHA to last at least 30 days after the initial PHA voucher term expires. If the receiving PHA has a policy allowing extensions of voucher terms, that policy applies. The intention is to accommodate the additional time the portability process entails.

Also, according to the final rule, when families request portability and are briefed about how portability works, they should be told by the initial PHA that they could be subject to screening by the receiving PHA based on its criteria, which could be very different from that of the initial PHA. Also, the initial PHA must inform residents wishing to port that the receiving PHA may have different subsidy and payment standards, as well as other features to consider. The final rule adds that PHAs should provide families with other resources that may assist the family in finding a unit to rent, such as references to organizations, online search tools, and newspapers, including those that cover areas outside of poverty or minority concentration. The final rule also requires the PHA to explain the benefits of living in a low-poverty area.