housing options

In today’s market, finding affordable housing is becoming increasingly difficult. Across the country, rent and housing prices are rising faster than income growth, meaning there are fewer affordable housing options. This makes it especially difficult for low-income families, which is why the Housing Choice Voucher program is in place. As with any family, there are times where family circumstances and employment opportunities change.

If you are receiving a housing choice voucher and you find you have to move to a new state, it may be possible for you to continue receiving your housing benefits even in your new state. Here are 7 things you should know when moving to a different state with a housing choice voucher.

1. You Need to Live in Your Initial PHA for at Least 1 Year

Your initial PHA, or public housing agency, is the actual agency that gave you your first voucher when you applied and were accepted to the housing choice voucher program. If you have not lived in your initial PHA for at least one year you may lose your benefits when moving to a new state.

2. You Must Fulfill Your Current Lease Obligations and Give Proper Notice

When you are moving to a different state and want to keep your housing benefits, you will need to make sure you meet all the obligations on your existing lease so that your voucher can be transferred.

This means meeting any of the terms you agreed to in regards to breaking the lease, giving enough notice before vacating the property (typically 30 days), etc. Failure to meet these terms may result in your transfer being delayed or denied entirely.

3. Double Check That There Your New Area has Housing Choice Voucher Program Coverage

While the Housing Choice Voucher program is a federal program there are areas where there is no coverage. To determine whether the area where you want to move has program coverage, you can check with your current PHA. Understanding which PHA will be your receiving PHA (where you are moving to) is important as you will need to make sure you abide by their policies when making the voucher transfer.

Your initial PHA should also be able to provide you with information regarding neighborhoods with affordable housing, nearby job opportunities, etc. in the area you are looking to move to.

4. Transferring Your Voucher is Known as Portability

When you decide to move states with your housing benefit you will have to deal with terms like ‘portability.’ This simply is a term used to refer to the process of moving a housing voucher from one PHA (your initial PHA that approved your voucher) to another PHA (commonly referred to as the receiving PHA, which is the PHA in the area you are moving to).

5. Your Initial PHA Will Help Initiate and Begin the “Port” Process

Once you have determined that you will need to move you will want to submit a written request to your Section 8 housing specialist. Your Section 8 housing specialist will verify that your voucher is eligible for portability and will notify your initial PHA to begin the port-out process. This process may include re-verifying documents and re-submitting documents including:

  • Proof of Income
  • Social Security Cards
  • Family Birth Certificates
  • Government Issued IDs
  • Existing HUD Documentation

Your initial PHA will coordinate with your receiving PHA regarding the documentation and paperwork that is required.

6. Porting Your Existing Voucher Will Take a Few Weeks

It is important to note that when you are looking to move out of state and keep your housing benefits the process is going to take a few weeks. Transferring or porting a voucher requires a substantial amount of paperwork and verification of documentation.

This will take time to get together and to have the PHAs coordinate together. While it is important to stay in touch with your initial PHA to make sure the process is moving along, it is equally important to have patience as there is a specific process that must be completed for the transfer to be completed successfully.

7. You Will Need to Attend a Meeting at Your Receiving PHA

After you have applied for portability of your existing voucher and your Portability Release Form has been processed you will likely need to attend a meeting at your receiving PHA in order to get your new voucher. This meeting is important as it will review the rules for finding affordable housing in the area the receiving PHA covers as well as any rules they have regarding leasing or purchasing affordable housing.

Being Prepared is Your Best Option

In order to make sure you don’t experience a disruption in your housing benefits, the best plan is to look to move out of state after you have been in your initial PHA for at least one year. If you need to move out of state, your best option is to try to plan your move at the end of your lease so that you do not have any additional obligations regarding breaking your existing lease to move.

Additionally, as soon as you think you may move out of state start looking into housing choice voucher coverage and work on making sure you have all of the necessary documentation together that will be required for the port-out process.

To make a long story short, it is possible to move out of state if you are receiving housing benefits, but you will want to make sure you have done your research, lived in your current PHA for at least one year, and have all of the necessary documentation ready to make the port-out process as smooth as possible.

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Written by Julia Novakovich
Julia is a freelance journalist and copywriter specializing in entrepreneurship and business development. She writes about women's roles in society, work, and life values.