HOW DO I MOVE?
In order to move you will need to submit a notice to vacate to your landlord and provide the housing authority with a copy of the notice. The notice must be submitted to your landlord and the housing authority no later than 20 days prior to the end of the month for which you intend to move out. Please keep in mind that you must not be in a current lease and that your voucher must be in good standing. You may also be required to provide updated household information prior to your move.
Important facts about moving
HOW DO I DETERMINE WHAT MY BUDGET IS FOR RENT?
After receiving your notice to vacate, you will be contacted by SHA staff who will schedule a briefing date for you to go over the details of your move. During the move briefing you will be given information specific to your household, including the price range of the unit that your voucher can accommodate.
HOW LONG DOES THE MOVE PROCESS TAKE?
The length of the move process can vary and it is recommended that you inform the housing authority of your intent to move as soon as possible. How soon you will be issued a voucher to move will depend on the status of your paperwork, the date that you submit your notice to vacate to SHA, and the availability of briefing times.
HOW DO I PORT MY VOUCHER?
To begin the port process, you must notify SHA that you would like to port your voucher by completing and submitting a Voluntary Portability Form. SHA will first determine if you are eligible to port, and if you are determined eligible, then your housing file will be sent to the housing authority who oversees the area that you would like to relocate to. After receiving your file, the new housing authority will contact you to schedule an orientation.
WHEN CAN I MOVE?
A voucher participant can move after completing their initial 12 month lease, unless a new lease is signed following the initial term. For those families who have completed their initial lease term and are currently renting on a month to month basis, the move process can be initiated by submitting a notice to vacate to both your landlord and to the housing authority. For additional information on moving, please see the FAQ above entitled “How Do I Move?”.
WHEN CAN I PORT?
Generally, a participating family can request to port their voucher at any time once they complete their initial 12 month lease requirement. Families who wish to port and who have not yet used their voucher to enter into a lease in the area under the jurisdiction of SHA, may first be required to reside in the Spokane area for a 12 month period prior to being approved to port their voucher to an area outside of the Spokane region, unless an exception is granted as a reasonable accommodation for a person with disabilities. For additional information on porting your voucher, please refer to the FAQ above entitled “How Do I Port My Voucher?”.
DO YOU HAVE A FAX?
Yes. The fax number for SHA is (509) 327-5246.
HOW LONG DOES THE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION REQUEST PROCESS TAKE?
The reasonable accommodation process can vary depending on the length of time required by the housing authority to verify the household’s request. It is recommended that when requesting a reasonable accommodation the family have a clearly identified medical or mental health provider who is familiar with the household’s situation and can help verify the accommodation that the household is requesting. Generally, SHA will respond within 10 business days of receiving the verification of the accommodation request from the medical or mental health provider selected by the family. If you would like to request a reasonable accommodation, please put your request in writing and submit this request to SHA.
WHY IS IT TWO HEARTBEATS PER ROOM?
SHA uses the two heartbeats per room standard primarily in order to assist the maximum number of families possible with the funding available. This standard is allowable under HUD guidelines and Housing Quality Inspection (HQS) protocols and provides one bedroom for each two persons within the household, regardless of age, relationship, or sex except in circumstances where a live-in-aide is approved for the family and the aide is granted their own bedroom to reside in while living with the family to provide care to a household member.
HOW DO I GET AN ADDITIONAL BEDROOM ON MY VOUCHER?
The SHA will consider granting an exception to a household’s voucher size if requested as a reasonable accommodation that is based on a disabled family member’s physical or mental health condition or to accommodate the need for the additional storage of required medical equipment. The family must request any exception to the subsidy standards in writing. The request must explain the need or justification for a larger family unit size and must include appropriate documentation. Requests based on health-related reasons must be verified by a qualified professional source (e.g., doctor or health professional), unless the disability and the disability–related request for accommodation is readily apparent or otherwise known. The family’s continued need for an additional bedroom due to special medical equipment must be re-verified at annual reexamination.
WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY LANDLORD WILL NOT FIX SOMETHING?
Maintenance requests to your landlord should be made in writing and should include the date showing when you made the request. After you have submitted the request in writing to the landlord and given them a reasonable amount of time to complete your request, you may then notify the housing authority of the landlord’s failure to complete the request and provide a copy of your written request to SHA. SHA staff will then follow up with your landlord to discuss the situation. If a determination is made that the repair is one that is the responsibility of your landlord, SHA will work with the landlord to try and remedy the situation.
HOW MUCH IS MY VOUCHER WORTH?
The worth of your voucher, also known as the voucher payment standard, is based on the current year’s Fair Market Rent (FMR) amounts which are set by HUD and used by housing authorities as guidance to establish an amount that each voucher is worth by bedroom size. The bedroom size of the voucher that is issued to a household is determined by the size of the family (see FAQ “Why is it two heartbeats per room?” for more information).
DO I NEED TO REPORT EVERY CHANGE THAT AFFECTS MY HOUSEHOLD?
Family obligations for program participation require a family to report any changes in writing that affect either the household’s income or family member composition within ten (10) days of the change occurring. A change may be reported by completing a Change of Circumstance form and submitting it to SHA. Based on the type of change reported, the SHA will determine the documentation the family will be required to submit. The family must submit any required information or documents within 10 business days of receiving a request from the SHA. This time frame may be extended for good cause with SHA approval. The SHA will accept required documentation by mail, by fax, or in person.
DOES ANY LANDLORD HAVE TO ACCEPT MY VOUCHER?
Currently, Washington state has a source of income discrimination prohibition which makes a landlord unable to deny someone tenancy on the sole basis of not wanting to accept a housing voucher. That being said, there are several situations and circumstances which would make a voucher ineligible to be used at a certain location and is not the fault of a landlord or property owner. If you feel that you are being discriminated against because you have a housing voucher please contact an SHA Customer Service Specialist at [email protected].
WHEN WILL YOU BE OPEN?
With the current restrictions in place due to COVID-19, it is difficult to determine a date that SHA will be open to the public. If you need to contact SHA, please call (509) 328-2953 or contact SHA Customer Service at [email protected]. In addition, please visit SHA’s website at www.spokanehousing.org and follow the link to the Virtual Lobby to submit questions or to live chat with a Customer Service Specialist.
HOW IS MY INCOME CALCULATED TO DETERMINE THE AMOUNT OF RENT I WILL PAY?
Household income is first calculated to reflect an annual income for the household. When calculating income SHA utilizes HUD regulations which specify the sources of income to include and exclude to arrive at a family’s annual income. Once annual income has been established HUD regulations require the SHA to subtract from annual income any HUD-mandated deductions for which a family qualifies. The annual income left over after deductions have been applied is known as the family’s adjusted income. SHA then uses the higher amount of either 30% of the family’s monthly adjusted income, 10% of the family’s monthly gross income, or $0 to determine a family’s total tenant payment (TTP). The amount that a family pays for rent (the family share) will never be less than the family’s TTP but may be greater than the TTP depending on the rent charged for the unit the family selects.
ARE MY WAGES COUNTED IF THEY ARE BEING GARNISHED?
Yes. In most instances, even if the amount is garnished from the wages of a family member, it must be included in annual income. An exception is made if an agency is reducing a family’s benefits to adjust for a prior overpayment (e.g., social security, SSI, TANF, or unemployment benefits). In those cases, the amount that is actually provided after the adjustment is counted rather than the gross amount.
DO YOU HELP WITH DEPOSITS?
Unfortunately, SHA’s rental assistance does not generally include an amount for security deposits. However, there may be a small amount of assistance available for those households meeting certain conditions. For more information regarding the requirements for this assistance, please contact an SHA Customer Service Specialist at [email protected] or by calling Customer Service at (509)328-2953.
MY CHANGE OF CIRCUMSTANCE HAS NOT BEEN PROCESSED AND MY RENT IS DUE, WHAT DO I DO?
If you have submitted a Change of Circumstance that housing authority staff has been unable to process in time to update your rent portion for the upcoming month, please make every effort to pay your current portion so you do not occur additional charges from unpaid rent. If your reported household change results in a decrease in your rent portion, the change will, in most instances, be retroactive to the beginning of the month following your reported change and additional money will be sent to your landlord on your behalf with the expectation that you will receive a credit for any rent overpaid by your family. If your reported change results in an increase to your rent portion, SHA will pay the increase to your portion until such time as we can ensure that you are given the proper 30-day notice of the increase to your portion.
CAN I RENT A LARGER UNIT THAN MY VOUCHER SIZE?
Yes. If you are able to find a larger unit that falls within the payment standard of a smaller voucher size, you may choose to use your voucher there. Please keep in mind, however, that all residences, regardless of size, must still pass an initial Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection prior to SHA’s final approval of the unit.
CAN MY CHILD STAY IN THE HOUSEHOLD AFTER TURNING 18?
Yes. There is no requirement that your child leaves your residence upon turning 18. However, there are different program terms and conditions which will apply when your child reaches their 18th birthday. For specific information regarding these changes, as well as, what additional documentation is required, please contact an SHA Customer Service Specialist at [email protected] or by calling Customer Service at (509)328-2953
HOW DO I SIGN UP FOR THE HOMEOWNERSHIP PROGRAM?
When the Homeownership Program waiting list is open, families participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program may apply. However, certain conditions must be met prior to a family being added to the open waiting list. The family must have been a participant in the HCV program for at least one year; the family must not owe the SHA or any other housing authority an outstanding debt; and, the family must complete a homeownership counseling program approved by the SHA. All household members 18 years of age and older must complete the counseling program. When the waiting list is open for applications, the families may submit electronic copies of the certificates or bring the certificates into SHA during normal business hours. If the family does not supply certificates for each family member 18 years of age and older, the family will not be accepted onto the waitlist for processing until certificates are received for all family members 18 years of age and older. SHA will review each certificate received and make a preliminary assessment of the family’s eligibility. The SHA will accept certificates from families unless there is good cause for not accepting the certificates (such as a denial of assistance) for the grounds stated in the regulations (24 CFR 982.201). Where the family is not determined to be ineligible, the family will be placed on the waiting list of applicants. For information regarding the current status of the Homeownership waiting list, please visit SHA’s website at www.www.spokanehousing.org or contact a Customer Service Specialist at [email protected] or by calling Customer Service at (509)328-2953
HOW DO I TURN IN A CHANGE OF CIRCUMSTANCE IF THE OFFICE IS CLOSED?
If you need to submit documentation of any kind to SHA and cannot access the lobby, please feel free to utilize the drop box located just outside the front entrance to SHA’s office at 25 W Nora Ave. In addition, you can scan and email a copy of your documents to [email protected], fax your documents by sending your fax to (509)327-5246, or send by mail to the Spokane Housing Authority at 25 W Nora Ave, Spokane, WA, 99205.
All Spokane Housing Authority offices will continue to be closed to the public until further notice as a proactive measure to decrease the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 disease.