Local Housing Authorities Cooperate to Improve Access for Section 8 Recipients

June 28, 2012 -- Home Forward and the Housing Authority of Clackamas County (HACC) have reached an agreement to cooperate on an innovative new program that will expand housing options for people in need.  As of July 1, 2012, Section 8 recipients in Clackamas and Multnomah County will be able to use their Section vouchers more easily in both counties, regardless of which jurisdiction administers their housing choice voucher.

This agreement allows Section 8 participants to choose to rent a unit anywhere within the two counties while being served by the originating housing authority.  This greatly expands flexibility and access for low-income families in both counties.  It opens up housing choices for residents to locate closer to job opportunities, education or career training, affordable child care or other opportunities.

The new cooperative agreement covers new rent standards for higher priced areas that both housing authorities have instituted, and will involve new landlord outreach efforts.  This will make more immediate choices available across much of the Portland metro area, and help people reduce their overall housing and transportation costs by choosing housing locations closer to the places they work and access services.

Home Forward and HACC have worked closely on this initiative for more than 18 months with the mutual goal of expanding housing, support, and employment opportunities for the people the agencies serve throughout Multnomah and Clackamas counties.  Additionally, the two agencies are acting to reduce the administrative costs associated with administering the Section 8 voucher program.

"In times like these, it is especially importand for jurisdictions to work together to improve the services we offer and to offer our services more efficiently," said Charlotte Lehan, Chair of the Clackamas County Commission.  "This agreement is a great example of that.  We will be offering people in need more flexibility and better service, while at the same time realizing significant gains in efficiency and cost savings."

"This cooperative agreement makes it easier for people with Section 8 vouchers to live in the community of their choice, regardless of whether it's in Multnomah or Clackamas County," said Steve Rudman, executive director of Home Forward.  "It also reduces the administrative steps involved when voucher holders move between jurisdictions, which will improve efficiency for each of our organizations."

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program enables voucher recipients to move anywhere within the United States as long as there is a Public Housing Authority within the area they move to that administers a Section 8 program.  The originating housing authority is required to send their voucher with the assisted family to the jurisdiction of their choice and the receiving housing authority has the option to absorb the family, give them a local voucher from their program, or administer the voucher that came with the family and bill the originating agency.

Under this new initiative, Home Forward and HACC would no longer need to pay additional administrative and management costs necessary to coordinate transfers between jurisdictions.  It is anticipated that this new agreement will provide an annual cost savings of $19,000 for Home Forward and $16,000 for HACC.

The agreement will eliminate cumbersome and expensive procedures and promote efficiencies through the alignment of processes and procedures at both agencies involved in the overall administration of the Section 8 program.  Home Forward and HACC will closely track the progress of their clients and participating landlords through participant and landlord satisfactions surveys to ensure that this new cooperative agreement works to the best of its potential.