If a household successfully completes one year of tenancy in a project-based unit, they may make a written request to the PHA for tenant-based assistance and must give the owner advanced written notice of their intent to vacate. The PHA can provide assistance in the form of a tenant-based voucher or comparable tenant-based rental assistance. One example of comparable assistance is the HOME Program’s Tenant-based Rental Assistance (TBRA) Program. If the PHA does not have comparable tenant-based assistance to offer, there is no obligation to issue a voucher or provide comparable tenant-based rental assistance until such assistance becomes available.
Some PHAs are concerned that tenants will move into project-based units and spend the requisite one year in order to bypass the PHAs waitlist to obtain a Housing Choice Voucher. While this concern is not entirely unfounded, studies have found that tenants’ choices about where they live are more complicated than that; factors such as safety, the quality of the unit and proximity to transportation, friends and family, and jobs tend to play a more prominent role in whether or not people move. (See The Resident Choice Option: Reasons Why Residents Change from Project-Based Vouchers to Portable Housing Vouchers Cunnigham and Scott, 2010.) CSH conducted an informal survey to determine whether formerly homeless tenants living in units with project-based vouchers were more likely to request a tenant-based voucher after a year than other non-formerly homeless tenants. We found the turnover rates to be nearly identical.
Go to the next section to learn about when PHAs are permitted to exceed the 25% cap on the number of project-based units in a building.