How to Convert an Apartment into a Voucher

Here’s a secret, special way to get a housing voucher.

In some situations, it is possible for someone to magically convert a subsidized apartment into a housing voucher. It’s not easy to do, and not always possible, but some of our readers have done it!

How Affordable Housing works:

Under normal circumstances, you have only two options for affordable housing:

🌸 You can get a housing voucher. This will let you move anywhere. (Well, almost anywhere. There are some exceptions). Vouchers are great, but I can take more than 5 years to get one. Sometimes more than 10 years.

🌸 You can get a subsidized apartment. This will only let you move to this one apartment. If you leave the apartment, you lose the housing assistance payment. If you like your apartment, there may never be a reason to leave so this may be a good solution for you. However, if you don’t like your apartment, you may be wishing you had a voucher instead.

Here’s what people don’t know:

There are some secret loopholes that can allow you to start out in a subsidized apartment, and then get issued a housing voucher. Some of our readers have done it. Here are the six methods they used:

Method number one: Using the ”family right to move” laws

There is a certain type of building that will let you turn your apartment into a voucher. In order to do this, first you will have to go live in the apartment for one year, and then you can request to leave and get a voucher instead.

This type of apartment is called “project-based voucher.” When you are looking at apartments, see if you can find one with a “project-based voucher.” (Pro tip: look for “project-based voucher“ not “project-based rental assistant.“ They sound the same, but they are different.)

There is a special HUD rule that will allow you to convert a “project based voucher” into a portable voucher. The portable voucher can be used anywhere. It is often called a “housing choice voucher.”

How to do it: The workers at your Housing Office may not know this rule. You may have to show them. The rule is called “family right to move“ and you can find it here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/24/983.261

Method number two: Using “family right to move” plus reasonable accommodations.

The law above does not specify whether a Housing Authority must use this law or only has it as an option. If it’s just an option, Housing Authority could say “no” to your request.

However, if you make the request as a reasonable accommodation request, and submit the proper documentation, they cannot legally deny you. This is possible if there is a reason related to your disability why you need to move. It’s also possible if you have a child or family member who is disabled and needs to move for that reason.

How to do it: You can make this request as a reasonable accommodation and you can also enclose the law. Learn how to request an accommodation: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters for Housing

Method number three: Go RAD

This is a different set of laws called “rental assistance demonstration“ projects. This is a special process some housing authorities use when they want to renovate buildings.

If your Housing Authority has any RAD buildings, they will offer you the opportunity to move out and convert your apartment into a voucher after you have been there one or two years.

How to do it: Your Housing Authority should make this offer to you automatically. RAD is a big process and the workers should be well aware that the building has this. You can also ask about it if you see that there is a RAD building.

Warning: Not all tenants do well in the RAD process, and some tenants have found they were relocated against their will. There are complaints and controversies about RAD. However, if you are wanting a housing voucher anyway, it could be a good match for you.

Method number four: Complain enough

Some of our readers have been offered vouchers simply because they filed complaints, and giving them a voucher seemed to be the best solution.

This outcome is only possible if you live in a building that is owned by Housing Authority. Why does your landlord have to be a Housing Authority? The Housing Authority will have a voucher to give you. If you live in a regular subsidized building, the housing office there does not own any vouchers. They can’t give you something that doesn’t exist.

How it works: If the Housing Authority is your landlord, they might decide at some point that dealing with your complaints and meeting your requests is too much trouble. They might decide they would rather just give you a voucher. Or, you might be able to negotiate with them and request a voucher if you feel that they cannot meet your disability needs.

How to do it: You can file a written complaint. In your written complaint, you can suggest a possible solution: they provide you with a housing voucher. Or, you can get assistance from a complaint office and see if they can help you negotiate. here’s where you can file a written complaint: How to Get Help or File Complaints for Housing Problems

A different way to do it: You can request a reasonable accommodation to meet your disability needs. The type of accommodation is going to depend on what problem you’re having. As part of your accommodation request, you can suggest they give you a voucher, since this is the best way to meet your needs. learn how to file an accommodation request here: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters for Housing

Liam filed a discrimination complaint. As a result, he was given a voucher, which was exactly what he wanted. Read his story along with some helpful tips here: Liam’s Amazing Housing Discrimination Journey

Please note: We suggest that you file written complaints, or make written requests. It is better for you not to complain verbally and not to start any arguments with your housing worker. Try to remain polite and cordial, if you are able. Getting into disagreements may just hurt you, and could make your life harder. You can file a complaint and still be on polite, friendly terms with the housing staff.

Method number five: Keep applying

Even if you already live in Affordable housing, you can still keep applying for other opportunities. You can get on the waitlist in your area, or anywhere in the country. You can apply over and over again anywhere you wish.

The more places you apply, the more likely you are to be offered opportunities.

Warning: You will have to give up your current subsidized apartment before moving into any other opportunity. Legally, you cannot do both at the same time.

However, you do not have to decide now. When you get to the top of the waiting list, you can decide whether to take the new place or stay where you are. Either way, nothing bad will happen just for being on the list.

Here’s where you can find more lists to join: How to Find Affordable Housing the Easy Way

Method number six: Get even more creative

Yet more clever way to get a housing voucher: Creative Ways to Get Section 8 (Even When the Wait Lists are Closed)

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