NLIHC signed on to two letters commenting on HUD’s proposed changes to the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) portability regulations (see Memo, 4/6), one coordinated by the Housing Justice Network and the other by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force. Portability allows a family with a voucher to rent a home anywhere there is a public housing agency (PHA) operating a HCV program. The PHA a family moves from is called the “initial PHA,” while the PHA the family moves to is called the “receiving PHA.”
The HJN letter supported all of the proposed changes, including:
- Requiring PHAs to stop the clock, suspending the 60-day voucher term available to a household for finding a place to use their voucher, while a PHA conducts a Housing Quality Standard (HQS) inspection to approve or deny the home.
- Requiring the voucher term of the receiving PHA to be 30 days after the initial PHA voucher term expires so that families do not lose time due to portability procedures such as attending the required briefing about the receiving PHA’s voucher policies.
- Clarifying existing language by stating that a receiving PHA cannot refuse to assist incoming families with a portable voucher However, HUD may determine that in certain situations a receiving PHA is not required to accept vouchers from another PHA, for instance if a PHA is in a disaster area.
Along with the proposed rule changes, HUD explicitly sought comments regarding six issues, four of which could be of direct interest to residents and advocates.
1. The current regulations require a family using portability to pass the screening criteria of the receiving PHA, which might be more stringent than the screening criteria of the initial PHA. HUD asked whether such rescreening should be prohibited or whether there should be standardized screening policies for portability moves.
Both the HJN and CCD letters urged HUD to prohibit receiving PHAs from re-screening. HJN stated that HUD should adhere to the statute and implementing regulations which prohibit receiving PHAs from conducting elective screening of current participants.
2. The current regulations require PHAs to provide all families with a list of landlords who may be willing to rent to the family or a list of others willing to help the family find a home. HUD wanted to know whether such a list is helpful or if this requirement should be eliminated.
HJN expressed concern about such lists because many PHAs do not analyze such lists to ensure that they are not primarily comprised of rentals in areas of high poverty concentration. In order to be useful, such lists must be required to contain a reasonable share of rental opportunities in areas with lower concentrations of poverty and diverse racial composition.
3. The current regulations require PHAs to brief all families when they are selected to receive a voucher. HUD asked whether the briefing should be revised to highlight the location factors and trade-offs that a family should consider, such as: employment opportunities, school quality, access to social services, and proximity to family and friends.
The HJN letter suggested requiring PHAs to post on their websites and make
available at HUD’s regional offices information regarding the PHA’s policies that might affect a family’s decision to move to that PHA, such as information about payment standards, utility allowances, and unit size standards. PHAs should also refer families to agencies and online resources that can help them research crime rates and school performance in a particular jurisdiction.
4. The current rule requires an initial PHA to decide to which receiving PHA a family can move if there is more than one PHA in the area to which a family wants to relocate. HUD asked whether the family should choose. Both HJN and CCD recommended allowing the family to choose.
The CCD Housing Task Force added a variety of concerns about the impact of several proposed rule changes on special voucher programs such as Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities (NED), Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH), Family Unification Program (FUP), and 5-Year Mainstream voucher.
The Housing Justice Network and Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force letters are attached.
Click here for the proposed rule.