As the pandemic wore on, our country experienced levels of job loss unseen since the 1930s. Along with this came an unprecedented number of people who chose to relocate, with the majority leaving largely populated cities. The 10 largest Section 8 programs in the U.S. are all located in large metropolitan areas, so it is likely your PHA has experienced a significant number of participants who chose to join the exodus. Whether you have seen families moving in or moving out, mymove.com reports that 20% of those moves, during the pandemic, were due to job loss.
The majority of the jobs that were lost were in industries typically considered low wage. In fact, according to the Labor Department, the lowest-paying industries account for 59 percent of all jobs lost between February 2020 to October 2021. Jobs in these low-wage industries were down 2 to 3 times as much as those in medium or higher-wage industries.
Add to all of this that PHAs see a significant increase in moves over the summer. (everybody moves in the summer) It’s no doubt, moves and portability are likely hot topics for many of your office conversations and preparations.
Well, it’s a hot topic for us too and we want to help you ensure that you and your team are fully equipped! (in fact, you might not know it, but we have a whole online course dedicated to HCV Portability)
One of the most important things to do is to ensure your staff is adequately trained. This is honestly one of the first steps for most initiatives PHAs will conduct, but we feel a reminder is always a bonus. Specifically, there are a few strategic areas you will want to give particular attention to:
- Employee Training
- Tenant Education
Education is key. Whether it’s your team or your participants, targeting efforts to ensure everyone is on the same page can save you from the hours of extra work and frustration caused by mistakes and misunderstandings.
Lay the Groundwork
The process of porting in or out is very detailed and must be timed correctly so the family doesn’t experience a lapse in benefits when transferring their voucher from one PHA to another. It would only take one employee, who isn’t up to speed, to create days, or even weeks, of extra work and have a significant negative impact on the voucher-holder.
Make the summer processes easier by being sure to cover some of the following topics in reference to portability, ensuring your team is fully prepared:
- PHA Jurisdiction
- Portability Requirements
- Absorbing vs Billing
- PHA Responsibilities
- Family Rights and Responsibilities
- Denials and Limitations
Do all of your employees know your PHA’s jurisdiction? And the neighboring jurisdictions that families may want to move to? This is one of the most important foundational aspects of portability. Our course on HCV Portability states, “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 even PHA jurisdictions that overlap with each other.”
Requirements for Portability
In most cases, families are eligible to port as long as they comply with your policies on moves. However, this is one area where PHA specific training comes in very handy. Why? Because every administrative plan is different and has its own requirements for portability. Denials and limitations on portability are usually PHA specific and vary from one PHA to the next. Remember, admin plans can change and adjust so you will need to have a way to communicate these changes quickly and effectively.
Absorbing vs. Billing
This is one of the more complicated aspects of portability. One minor detail recorded incorrectly can alter or stop the entire process. Make sure your staff knows your current status on whether you are absorbing families or billing initial PHAs. Specialists should be equipped to communicate with other PHAs clearly and accurately about the intricacies of the portability process.
PHA and Family Responsibilities
Having clear cut responsibilities outlined for each party is a necessary strategy for keeping the process organized and moving forward. Setting appropriate expectations sets you up for success.
What Else Can I Do?
Get ahead of the game by taking a proactive approach to educating your participating families on the details of portability. Our course on Portability advises, “PHAs must explain to families how differences in the receiving PHA’s policies could affect the family’s assistance. For example, the receiving PHA may have different policies concerning screening criteria, subsidy standards, payment standards, or more stringent policies related to screening for criminal backgrounds.”
Making your best effort to provide your families with easy to access and understand information on portability can help you, and them, avoid unrealistic expectations and unnecessary delays.
Get Geared Up
If your PHA is in need of support, our HCV Portability training course is one of several tools you can add to your toolkit. We make it easy to provide your team members with the information they need to be confident in their roles and to make your PHAs Summer Surge a successful one.