Portability refers to the process by which a family may move with continued assistance to a new location outside of the jurisdiction of the Public Housing Authority (PHA) that is currently administering the family’s voucher. The PHA that first issues the family a voucher is called the “initial” PHA and the PHA that has jurisdiction where the tenant will be moving is called the “receiving” PHA. The receiving PHA must administer the voucher, although it has the choice of absorbing the cost of the ported voucher or billing the initial PHA. Advocates have identified numerous problems with portability procedures because of their experience working with voucher families who face unnecessary delays and denials.
On August 20, 2015, HUD published new portability regulations for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program with the goal of streamlining the portability process for PHAs and reducing the burden on participating families. HUD hopes that by eliminating administrative hurdles, more families will take advantage of the ability to live in areas where there are employment opportunities and high quality schools. HUD explicitly recognizes in the final rule the benefit to families moving to low-poverty communities, including improved “mental and physical health for adults and long-term educational and earning gains for young children.” In implementing new regulations, HUD also aimed to improve the porting process for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, who must often relocate quickly to a home away from an abuser.
NHLP published a detailed Analysis of HUD’s Final Portability Rule in light of advocates’ concerns and comments as expressed to HUD as it revised the portability regulations.
NHLP has also published a guide for advocates explaining the Portability Rights of Survivors of Domestic Violence