How Do I Find a Unit After Receiving My Voucher?

There are multiple HUD regulations that determine what properties may accept a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher:

1. The unit’s monthly rent must meet the housing authority’s Payment Standards. Payment Standards are the maximum monthly rent a household may pay with their voucher. To find the Payment Standards for your area, visit the housing authority’s website. If the Payment Standards are not available on the website, or the housing authority does not have a website, contact the office for this information. You can search our website for housing authority website and contact information. 

2. All units must be inspected and approved by the local housing authority to comply with HUD’s housing standards. Inspectors check for the overall condition of the unit, including its structure, mold and other possible contaminants, and animal infestations.

3. There are several areas of the country that protect Section 8 voucher holders by making it illegal for a landlord to deny a tenant solely because they have a voucher. Voucher holders not in those areas must find a landlord that agrees to accept their voucher.

Step 1: Where You Can Use a Section 8 Voucher

1. Any apartments or houses owned by a private landlord in the Section 8 protected areas identified here.

2. Apartments or houses owned by a private landlord that will accept the voucher, unless the unit is located in an area protected by source of income discrimination laws.

3. Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) units, unless the unit has an additional Rental Assistance subsidy attached to it (See Step 2 below).

4. Section 515 Rural Rental Housing units, unless the unit has an additional Rental Assistance subsidy attached to it (See Step 2 below).

5. HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) units, unless the unit has an additional Rental Assistance subsidy attached to it (See Step 2 below).

5. Eligible units owned by the housing authority that administers assistance under an Annual Contributions Contract, as long as the following conditions are met:

  • The housing authority has informed the household orally and verbally that they have the right to select any available eligible unit, and the housing authority-owned unit is selected without influence by the housing authority.
  • The household is not benefited by an additional form of housing subsidy.
  • The housing authority uses a HUD-approved independent entity (such as the local government) to determine reasonable rent, assist the household in negotiating rent with the owner, and inspect the unit.

Step 2: Where You Cannot Use a Section 8 Voucher

1. College or other school dormitories.

2. Penal, reformatory, medical, mental, or similar public or private institution units.

3. Units that already provide a Rental Assistance subsidy, including: 

  • Public or Indian Housing
  • Section Project-Based Rental Assistance
  • Section 8 Project-Based Voucher
  • USDA Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance
  • Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly
  • Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities
  • Any other federal, state or local housing program that offers a Rental Assistance subsidy (this does not include welfare or social security).

Step 3: How To Find A Unit

You can use these steps to use Affordable Housing Online to find a unit that accepts your voucher:

1. Search Affordable Housing Online for the city or county you will be living in.

2. While scrolling through community listings, look for those with the "HCV Welcome" tag.

3. Select the community image or link for details about the property.

4. Contact the community by using the online submission form or phone number provided on the page, and ask about applying to be a resident with your Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher.

Also, the housing authority that manages your voucher may have a list of landlords that accept vouchers. Contact the housing authority office for more information.

Step 4: Know the HCV Porting Policy

A Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher holder may transfer their voucher to a different area once specific conditions are met. This process is referred to as "portability."

A HCV participant may only port out to a different area after one year of residency in the jurisdiction of the housing authority that issued the voucher. If the voucher holder was a resident in the jurisdiction when they initially applied for the voucher, they may request to port out to a different jurisdiction at any time. (For example, if you live in New York City, New York, and apply for the Chicago Housing Authority Section 8 waiting list in Illinois, you must live within the Chicago Housing Authority's jurisdiction with your voucher for 12 months before porting. But, if you live in Chicago, IL and apply for the Chicago Housing Authority Section 8 waiting list, you may port to a new area any time after you receive your voucher.)

When searching for a new a new area, it's important to know the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher income qualifications, as well. If your household does not qualify for the housing authority's income limits, you may not port there.

Housing authorities are given a lot of leeway by HUD in their porting policy, so there may be other specific factors required to be able to port your voucher.

To begin this process, you must first contact the housing authority that currently manages your voucher. You will then be instructed to contact the housing authority that serves the area you are interested in moving to.

That housing authority must either be "absorbing" or "billing" vouchers. "Absorbing" means that the housing authority takes full control over your voucher. "Billing" means that the housing authority will take you in as a resident, but it will bill your previous housing authority for its share of your monthly rent.

It is important to consider any expenses involved in moving to a new location such as your current lease, rental deposit, moving and travel costs, and utility costs. Have a plan for transportation, school registration, employment, and childcare before you start the porting process to ease the transition to a new home.

You can the search bar on the top of this page to search our website for housing authority contact information.