What is Portability?

What is Portability? 

Portability is the process of porting, or transferring, a voucher to a different housing authority, or PHA jurisdiction, for the purposes of leasing a unit outside of the PHA jurisdiction that initially issued the family a voucher. The issuing PHA is referred to as the initial PHA. The PHA in the jurisdiction the family wishes to move to is known as the receiving PHA. 

PHA Jurisdiction 

PHA Jurisdiction refers to the area covered by a particular PHA. It is important to know your PHA’s jurisdiction because there can be several PHAs in close proximity to each other, each one covering a different and specific area.  In some cases, there are PHA jurisdictions that overlap each other. The most common example is when a County PHA Jurisdiction covers most if not all of a smaller city PHA jurisdiction (ex: Miami Dade County Housing Authority covers the same areas as City of Miami and City of Hialeah, along with a few others).  

The process of porting a voucher to a different PHA or jurisdiction than the one who issued it is called a Port Out. The process of a voucher being ported to your PHA from the initial PHA is called a Port In. 

Porting Out 

To begin the porting out process, the family will need to contact the initial PHA to request a Port Out and must provide the initial PHA with the name and address of the receiving PHA they wish to port out to.  

If there is more than one PHA in the area to which the family wants to move, the family either chooses the receiving PHA or can request the initial PHA to make that choice for them.  

Once the portability request is approved, the initial PHA must also advise the family how to contact and request assistance from the receiving PHA.  

The initial PHA must promptly contact the receiving PHA with the following information: 

  • To notify the PHA of the family’s intention to port their voucher 
  • To determine whether the voucher will be billed or absorbed (more about this coming up) 
  • To send the required documents. You will go through a complete list of required documentation later on in this training.  

Porting In 

It is important for the family to wait until they are notified by the receiving PHA that their request to port has been approved before relocating. Porting a voucher requires many steps and takes time to get everything done correctly. If the family relocates prior to be notified, they run the risk of being without assisted housing for an extended period of time if it takes more time than expected or if their request is denied. 

When the family arrives at the receiving PHA’s office, the receiving PHA issues the family a housing choice voucher to enable the family to search for a unit in its jurisdiction. The voucher issued by the receiving PHA may not have an expiration date prior to the expiration date established by the initial PHA. However, for any extensions to the voucher term and/or the processing of requests for tenancy approval, the receiving PHA’s policies will apply.   

The receiving PHA will use its own PHA specific policies to determine the appropriate unit/voucher size for a family moving into its jurisdiction and the receiving PHA’s payment standards will apply. The family should be informed of these policies and the payment standard prior to beginning their search for a unit in the new jurisdiction.  

The receiving PHA must also inform the initial PHA of the following: 

  • Whether it will absorb or bill the family’s housing assistance payment  
  • If it approves an extension to the voucher term  
  • Any changes to the unit size of the family’s voucher