Low-income, U.S. families that are on a housing voucher waiting list can lose eligibility for Section 8 housing for a variety of reasons. The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a strict and very sought-after assistance program fully funded by the federal government. It provides financial assistance to low-income families that are unable to pay rent for a decent home. However, program applicants must meet all eligibility requirements, after which they are put on a waiting list.
As waiting times for Section 8 can often be years, many applicants may become ineligible by the time they reach the top of the list. Public housing authorities are obliged to verify every candidate’s eligibility before they grant a housing voucher to a family. Besides meeting the income eligibility, families must successfully pass background checks performed by the PHA. These background checks look at a person’s criminal history (if applicable), eviction history (if applicable), spending habits, sources of income and more. Should the PHA find any reason why you are not fit to receive a housing voucher, you will receive a Section 8 denial letter stating the exact reasons behind that decision. To learn more about Section 8 housing disqualifications and how you can file a Section 8 denial appeal, explore the sections below:
- What happens when a Section 8 application is denied
- Steps to take if your application is denied
What happens when my Section 8 application is denied?
You can lose eligibility for Section 8 housing for a variety of reasons, mostly due to not meeting certain qualifications. However, assistance denial can be applied in several different ways, such as denial of listing on a Section 8 waiting list, denial of a voucher, withdrawal of a voucher, refusal to enter into a contract and unit approval and refusal to provide assistance through portability. Thus, Section 8 housing disqualifications include the following:
- A family member is convicted of a drug-related crime committed on the premises of a Section 8 home and associated areas
- The family’s income exceeds the income limit set by the PHA
- A family member refuses to sign consent forms (such as documents for release of information or declarations of citizenship or immigrant status)
The public housing agency is required by law to send a Section 8 denial letter, if denying assistance. On a local level, PHAs can establish specific policies regarding denial of assistance, but common reasons for denial include:
- A family member has received a Section 8 eviction notice from the premises.
- A family member has committed a drug-related or violent crime.
- A family member has committed bribery, fraud or other criminal activities related to a public housing program.
The PHA has withdrawn assistance from any family member during the program.
When deciding to deny assistance, public housing authorities must take into consideration several factors, as related to a specific case. Thus, the case severity, the extent of culpability of family members and the effects of termination or denial of assistance on other family members not involved in the criminal actions will all be considered when the PHA makes a final decision.
Note that the housing choice voucher program is only responsible for granting vouchers to eligible families. However, landlords are recommended to screen the potential tenants for suitability and apply regular rental management practices. The PHA does not endorse families for tenancy and cannot predict potentially negative family behavior. The PHA will provide payment for the voucher regularly, but it is up to the tenants to pay the remaining rent amount to their landlords. Click here to learn if you are eligible for Section 8 Housing.
Steps to Take if Your Section 8 Application Is Denied
If you received a Section 8 denial letter by the public housing authority stating that you have been denied public housing assistance, you can file a Section 8 denial appeal. To contest the PHA’s decision to terminate or deny assistance, you can request an informal hearing which must be submitted by the deadline set by the PHA. During this time, the PHA is not allowed to terminate the payments until you have contested their decision at an informal hearing. The hearing will be conducted by a third, impartial party who will be appointed by the PHA. The hearing officer will be an individual who was not involved in making the final decision on your eligibility or granting the housing voucher.
Before the hearing, you must gather all documents related to the denial and bring them to the meeting. These include items such as the following:
- Section 8 contract
- Repayment agreements
- Damage claims
- Lease contracts
- Written complaints
- Witness statements
- Police reports
- Any other relevant documents
Also, you have the right to be represented by a lawyer or a legal representative at the hearing. At this point, you will be able to present your documents. Thereafter, the PHA will issue a statement with the reasons behind their decision.
On the other hand, if you received a Section 8 eviction notice by your landlord, you must immediately report it to the PHA. If you are wondering “Can you get Section 8 with an eviction?”, note that the PHA cannot stop the payments until an eviction decision is brought to court. In other words, you can still get Section 8 with bad credit. However, if you consider the reasons for the eviction invalid, you have the right to contest it.
If the eviction was reinforced by a court order as a result of a serious violation on your side, such as destruction of property or other severe instances, the PHA may decide to terminate your assistance. You will still have the right to appeal the decision via an informal hearing, but note that it can be difficult to challenge these types of PHA decisions when they are based on a court order. Note that regular maintenance of your Section 8 home and a good relationship with your landlord is essential, as it will provide your family with a decent home and a better quality of life as a result.