Applied for Section 8? Here Are the Reasons Why Your Participation in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program Can Be Terminated
Housing Authority and You
In areas of high demand, admission into the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) can be difficult to obtain, so once you’re in, you want to stay in. If your Housing Authority notifies you that your participation in the program may be terminated, it can be disconcerting. Here’s what you need to know.
The Housing Authority has the right to conclude your participation in the program, but you can challenge the decision. Even though there are usually waitlists for housing assistance, the Housing Authority cannot simply end your participation so that someone else can come in. There are rules guiding when, how, and why your assistance may come to an end.
If the Housing Authority wants to end your participation in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, they must:
• Notify you of their decision in writing
• Include the reason or reasons that influenced the decision
• Offer you the opportunity to challenge their decision
Should you elect to take advantage of your opportunity to challenge the Housing Authority’s decision, you must respond to the notice in writing. State clearly that you wish to schedule an informal hearing to challenge the decision. It is also wise to request a copy of the Housing Authority’s hearing procedure. This will provide you with a lot of helpful information.
If you’re going to challenge the Housing Authority’s decision to terminate your participation in their program, you should notify the Housing Authority as soon as possible. Often, you are only able to challenge the decision within a certain time frame. If you miss your chance, you are likely to lose your assistance, and you may not be able to appeal.
There are a limited number of reasons for the Housing Authority to end your participation in their program.
The Housing Authority cannot terminate your participation in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program unless one or more of the residents:
• Commit a drug-related or violent crime
• Commit a crime that threatens the health, safety, or peaceful enjoyment of other residents, Housing Authority employees, or locals
• Are required to register as lifetime sex offenders
• Have been convicted of making/producing methamphetamine in federally assisted housing
• Violates the leasing agreement
• Commit a crime associated with the federal housing program (such as bribery or fraud)
• Owe money to a Housing Authority
• Fail to repay owed money in accordance with an established agreement
• Threatened, behaved abusively, or acted violently towards Housing Authority staff
• Omits or lies about any information deemed relevant by the Housing Authority or Department of Housing and Urban Development
• Fail to produce social security numbers, proof of citizenship, or consent required by the Housing Authority.
• Breach established housing quality standards
• Refuse the Housing Authority’s right to inspect their home
• Move from their home without notifying the Housing Authority
• Receive an eviction notice from the landlord without reporting it to the Housing Authority
• Do not use the home as their only residence
• Do not notify the Housing Authority of absences from the home
• Has an ownership interest (including outright ownership) in the home. An obvious exception exists for participants in the Section 8 Home Ownership Program.
• Receive housing assistance from multiple programs simultaneously
• Have been evicted from federally-assisted housing within five years
• Fail to report income, obtain permission before allowing new residents to stay in the home, or to notify the Housing Authority when residents move out
• Sublet the home
• Abuses alcohol within the home
If you can prove that none of the preceding conditions have been violated, then you are far more likely to succeed in challenging the Housing Authority’s decision to terminate your participation in their program.
You have rights at the Housing Authority hearing.
If you are going to appear at an informal hearing, it is important for you to understand your rights. Before and during your hearing, you have specific rights that can help you win your challenge and maintain your participation in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.
• All Housing Authority documents stating policies, procedures, and regulations must be available to you before your hearing begins. You are permitted to copy these documents and, if you do so, must not be charged more than $0.25/page. Any documents that are not made available to you may not be used by the Housing Authority once the hearing begins.
• Witnesses may be brought to testify against you. You have the right to question all of these witnesses in turn.
• Using physical documents and spoken testimony, you have the right to present evidence in support of your position.
• You have the right to representation by a lawyer or other advocate (such as a social worker), though you will be responsible for any resulting expenses. If you want representation, but cannot afford one, you should call an attorney’s office to ask if they can represent you affordably or without cost.
• You don’t have to move. Unless the Housing Authority entertains your challenge and upholds their initial decision, you have the right to continued financial assistance. That includes up until the time of the hearing.
The Housing Authority may use its own discretion in determining who, when, and how program participation is terminated.
The Housing Authority operates largely according to its own discretion. In considering your case, the Housing Authority may take into account the circumstances surrounding your violation, the severity of the violation, and the involvement of other residents.
If the Housing Authority determines that a violation is the responsibility of one resident, or that the impact on uninvolved residents would be too great, they may enforce a partial termination of participation. For example, the remaining residents of a home may be permitted to stay assuming that the violating party evacuates the premises.
You may bring these considerations to the attention of the officer handling your hearing even if the officer does not bring them up voluntarily.
How to plead your case
Generally speaking, there are three ways to plead your case before the hearing officer. If you have not committed a violation, you should attempt to prove that using testimony and supporting documents. If you have committed a violation, you have two options. First, you may attempt to persuade the hearing officer that your violation does not merit exclusion from the program. Secondly, you may attempt to rectify the problem (by making repairs, repayments, etc).
In serious cases, you may need to sacrifice assistance to a guilty resident in order to preserve assistance for the remaining members of a family.
You won’t have to wait long to find out the ruling. Once you’ve pled your case and the hearing officer has made a decision, he or she must issue a written decision. You will be given a copy of the decision almost immediately.
DISCLAIMER: The information above is not legal advice for your specific situation. It is meant as general information ONLY. Please consult with an attorney if you need legal advice.