U.S. Housing and Urban Development's Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program gives low-income families the opportunity to use a federal rental subsidy to secure housing anywhere they wish to live. Unlike public housing, Section 8 participation does not relegate benefit holders to a selection of fixed, publicly owned sites. In most cases, Section 8 recipients can move and retain their subsidy, as long as they follow HUD guidelines.
Federal regulations permit Section 8 households to move, and retain assistance, within the jurisdiction where they originally received their benefits. HUD requires, however, that Section 8 tenants who wish to move properly end their lease with their landlord. This can occur as a result of mutual agreement, eviction or a housing agency's decision to ends its relationship with a Section 8 landlord. HUD must allow a tenant to move if the tenant falls victim to domestic violence, dating violence or stalking. HUD gives local housing offices the ability to set its own policies that limit moves; however, they cannot disallow a move that results from the aforementioned crimes.
HUD has portability procedures in place if a family wishes to move from the location where it began receiving benefits to a different jurisdiction. Again, the family must properly end their lease with their current landlord. Under portability protocols, the receiving housing agency must accept the new family into its program; however, it has the option of paying the cost itself or billing the original housing office. If a family was already receiving benefits, the new housing agency does not recertify income and program eligibility until the original voucher expires. If the family received a voucher, but did not yet find a unit, the original housing agency will check to see if the household qualifies for assistance at the new location.
Most Section 8 recipients have what HUD calls tenant-based assistance. Under tenant-based assistance, HUD attaches the Section 8 voucher to the family, allowing them to move and keep their benefits. When a family receives project-based assistance, however, it cannot move without losing benefits. Project-based assistance ties the subsidy to individual, fixed-location dwellings, not families.
If a family breaks up, HUD gives local housing agencies the latitude to decide how to handle the situation. Local housing offices must detail protocols in their Section 8 Administrative Plan. Generally, the housing agency can decide which family members keep their assistance and which ones relinquish it. The Code of Federal Regulations instructs local housing agencies to consider several factors, including the impact their decision has on minors, the elderly and disabled persons. If a family breaks up because of domestic violence, dating violence or stalking, HUD directs local housing offices to keep benefits with the victim.
- HUD: Housing Choice Vouchers Fact Sheet
- HUD: Project Based Vouchers – Frequently Asked Questions
- Code of Federal Regulations: Title 24, Section 982.314, Move with Continued Tenant-Based Assistance
- Code of Federal Regulations: Title 24, Section 982.315, Family Break-Up
- Code of Federal Regulations: Title 24, Section 982.355, Portability: Administration by Receiving PHA