The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a very popular assistance program in the United States. Because of this, there are often wait lists that applicants must wait until they can obtain financial assistance. It is crucial that all applicants are completely aware of the eligibility requirements because they are very strict and must be met both when applying and before benefits are awarded.
Since the wait times for Section 8 can be years in many areas, applicants can become ineligible by the time they reach the top of the list. This is because the eligibility of the candidate is reassessed by the public housing authority (PHA) before the vouchers are administered.
There are many different things that can lead to the disqualification of an applicant. In addition to needing to meet income eligibility, candidates must also successfully pass background checks and have their spending habits and eviction history reviewed as well.
If the PHA determines that the applicant does not meet all of the requirements, a Section 8 denial letter will be sent that states the reasoning for the disqualification. To learn more about the common disqualifications and how a Section 8 denial appeal can be filed, read the sections below.
Section 8 housing assistance may be denied for a variety of different reasons. Most of those reasons include not meeting the specific eligibility requirements set in place by the PHA in the state. Also, it is important to keep in mind that assistance can be denied at any stage.
There may be an initial denial so the applicant cannot be placed on the waitlist, a denial or withdrawal of a voucher after acceptance, or even a refusal to enter into a contract. Typically, Section 8 housing disqualifications include the following:
PHA’s can establish specific policies and requirements in regard to the denial of assistance. If they do decide to deny assistance, they are required by law to send a Section 8 denial letter. A few common reasons for denial include the following:
There are several factors that the PHA must consider when deciding whether to deny assistance, and it is all assessed on a case-by-case basis. For instance, the severity of the case and the effects of denial of assistance on other family members not involved in criminal activity are all considered.
It is also important to note that the PHA is only responsible for screening applicants for their eligibility and granting the housing vouchers. Landlords are responsible for then screening the potential tenants to ensure that they are suitable for the rental unit.
The housing choice voucher program cannot predict whether the family will behave inappropriately when renting the unit, and the program does not ever endorse families for tenancy. The PHA is only responsible for providing payment for the voucher portion while the tenant must pay the remaining rent amount to the landlord.
There are steps that can be taken by the applicant after he or she receives a Section 8 denial letter from the public housing authority. There is a deadline stated on the letter that dictates when a hearing must be arranged by in order for an appeal to be filed.
A denial appeal contests the PHA’s decision to terminate or deny assistance. During this time, the public housing authority is not legally allowed to terminate any payments until their decision has been contested at an informal hearing.
The hearing will be conducted by an individual that was not involved in making the decision regarding the denial or termination of assistance. He or she will be a third party appointed by the PHA to listen to the case and make a determination. The hearing can be effective if the applicants can prove to that individual during the hearing that they are indeed eligible for housing assistance.
Applicants have the right to be represented by an attorney or legal representative during the hearing. It is also crucial to note that before the hearing, applicants must gather together all documents related to the case to bring them to the meeting. The documents that may be needed include the following, but are not limited to:
Additional relevant documentation may be helpful as well. To determine what items to bring, applicants should contact the PHA or speak with their lawyer or legal representative.
If a tenant received an eviction notice from the landlord, the process for denying the eviction is different. First, the eviction notice must immediately be reported to the public housing authority. Even after the eviction notice is received by the PHA, the housing vouchers must still be sent to the landlord for the unit until an eviction decision is determined.
This means that tenants can still received Section 8 even with bad credit. Then, note that tenants also have the right to contest an eviction decision if they consider the reasoning behind the eviction invalid.
If the eviction is reinforced by court order due to a serious lease violation on the part of the tenant, the PHA will likely decide to terminate assistance. Serious violations include destruction of property and other severe actions. Tenants may still attempt to appeal the decision for termination of assistance, although challenging decisions that are based on a court order can be extremely difficult.
It is very important that all tenants maintain their Section 8 home and abide by all of the regulations in the lease agreement. Having a good tenant-landlord relationship is essential as it can help the family to continue receiving Section 8 assistance and to maintain a good quality of life in their home.