Skip to Main Content

Portability FAQ

COVID-19, Coronavirus, continues to impact people throughout the country. The health and safety of our employees and clients is a priority. Out of an abundance of caution, we will not see clients during this time until further notice. Decatur Housing Authority's (DHA) lobby is open. Clients may drop off paperwork in the drop box inside the lobby or documents can be scanned using the lobby scanner and emailed to the appropriate staff. If you are dropping off paperwork, please make copies before you come to the office. No copies will be made at the office. You may also contact our office by email or telephone. Our staff contact information can be found here.

We realize you may have many questions and concerns that need to be addressed. We will continue to provide updated information regarding DHA's operations on our website, 

We would like to address some of your portability Frequently Asked Questions, FAQs, below.

Q. Is DHA accepting portable families?
A. Yes, families can port to Decatur Housing Authority.

Q. How do I port to Decatur Housing Authority?
A. You must submit a written request to port to your initial housing authority. They will send your portability packet to DHA. Preferably, you should have at least sixty days on your voucher.

Q. What happens after my initial PHA submits my portability paperwork to DHA?
A. An intake packet will be mailed or emailed to you. Please provide a current mailing address and email address. The intake packet must be completed, signed, and returned by mail or email to the Portability Housing Specialist, with the requested documents, including birth certificates, social security cards, income verification, bank statements, current photo identification. Use the verification checklist in your intake packet to ensure that you send all applicable documents for each household member.

If you return your packet by email, please send your documents as attachments. Do not include the documents in the body of your email. You may also deposit your completed intake packet in the drop box in DHA's lobby. All adult members of the household must sign the forms in the intake packet.  Upon receipt, the completed intake packet will be reviewed by the Portability Housing Specialist and you, and all adult members of the household will be instructed to watch the Portability Briefing video. You and each adult member of the household must sign and date the form acknowledging that every adult member watched the portability briefing video. Upon receipt of the Acknowledgement form, your voucher, Tenant Rent Estimator and Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) will be sent to you.

Questions should be addressed via email to Portability Housing Specialist or call 404-270-2113.

Q. What happens if I do not watch the portability briefing video?
A.  All housing authorities operate differently. DHA does not operate like the housing authority you are porting from. The briefing video explains how DHA operates and provides details on how to complete the intake packet. You are more likely to submit an incomplete/incorrect packet if you do not watch the briefing video which will delay the portability process.

Q. What is an incomplete packet?
A. An incomplete packet includes unsigned forms or forms not signed by all adults, failure to provide birth certificates, social security cards, income verifications, bank statements, current photo identification child support for applicable household members, and unanswered questions on the forms. All required documents must be provided, and all forms must be completed in their entirety for your paperwork to be processed. Paperwork is processed in the order in which it is received. If your paperwork is incomplete, it delays the process.

Q. What happens if I return an incomplete portability packet?
A.  Incomplete packets cannot be processed and will be returned to the sender.  If you submit an incomplete packet, it will delay the issuance of your voucher and RFTA. The packet will be returned to you and processed when it is resubmitted correctly, and all documents are provided.

Q. My voucher amount is too low. Can the housing authority give me a higher voucher amount?
A. Rents in metropolitan Atlanta are high. The Housing Choice Voucher program is an income-based program. Families with more income can afford higher rents and have more success finding suitable housing. Zero income families have difficulty finding suitable housing.  

Q. My relatives give me money each month. Can I include the contributions as income?
A. No, DHA does not include contributions as income at lease-up.

Q. Can I live anywhere in DeKalb County?
A. You can live anywhere in DeKalb County except within the City of Atlanta or the City of Lithonia city limits. The City of Atlanta and the City of Lithonia have their own housing authorities.

Q. How do I find housing?
A. Several websites offer property listings including, and  Before relocating to metropolitan Atlanta, we encourage you to research unit rental amounts, the cost of living in comparison to the cost of living in the area you are porting from, the quality of school districts, neighborhood crime statistics, areas of low poverty, areas of low minority concentration, location of employment opportunities, proximity to educational opportunities and access to public transportation.

Q. Can participants who ported to DHA request voucher extensions?
A. You must be diligent about your housing search. DHA is not absorbing. We will bill your housing authority. DHA will give 30 days from the expiration date of the voucher issued by your housing authority. You may need to request additional time from your initial housing authority. Per the federal regulations, DHA must send your port paperwork back to your initial housing authority if you do not lease up before the billing date deadline. DHA will work with your housing authority regarding voucher extensions and billing deadlines.

Q. Does DHA help with paying the security deposit?
A. No. The family is responsible for paying the security deposit and any deposits for utility services that the family is responsible for paying.

Q. Does DHA help with paying the utility service deposits?
A. No. The family is responsible for paying the deposits for any utility services that the family is responsible for paying.

Q. What happens when I find a unit?
A. Once you find a unit, the owner must complete and submit the RFTA. The Portability Housing Specialist will review the RFTA and determine if the requested rent is affordable for your family based on the household income and if the rent is reasonable. If the rent is not affordable, the owner will need to decrease the requested rent, or you will need to find another unit. If the rent is not reasonable, the owner will need to decrease the rent to the acceptable amount, or you will need to find another unit.

Once the unit and rent are approved, the initial inspection will be performed if the unit is vacant and the utilities are on. The owner has 15 days to make repairs if deficiencies are cited.

Families porting to DHA's jurisdiction must not move into the new unit before the unit passes initial inspection. Move-in inspections will be conducted as long as the tenant has not moved into the unit. 

After the unit passes inspection, your family can move into the unit. You will be notified of your share of rent. 

Q. What does reasonable rent mean?
A. Before the RFTA is sent to the inspector, DHA must determine if the requested rent is reasonable in comparison to similar properties in the area, usually a five-mile radius of the subject property. For the rent to be reasonable, the rent may not be more than rent charged for comparable units in the private unassisted market. In addition, the rent may not be more than rent charged by the owner for comparable unassisted units on the premises. HUD requires housing authorities to take into consideration location, size, type of unit, quality of unit, age of unit, amenities offered, housing services provided, maintenance provided, and utilities supplied by the owner, to determine if the requested rent is reasonable. Per the federal regulations, housing authorities cannot approve a lease until it has determined that the initial rent to owner is a reasonable rent. 

Q. Is DHA responsible for preparing the lease?
A. No. DHA is not a party to the lease. The lease is a legal document between the owner and the tenant. Please make sure you read and understand the lease completely before signing it.

Q. What happens if I don't find housing in DeKalb County.
A. You must request to have your portability paperwork sent back to your initial housing authority before your voucher expires. Complete the Request to Transfer Back to Your Initial Housing Authority form and give it to the Portability Housing Specialist. This form can be found on DHA's website, or the Portability Housing Specialist can send the form to you.

Q. Who should I contact if I have portability questions?
A. Contact the Portability Housing Specialist, at 404-270-2113 or email.