Housing benefits under Section 8 provide housing assistance to low-income individuals. However, not all those who apply for Section 8 qualify to receive benefits. Program applicants must make sure to follow the steps to apply and abide by the program’s rules. Public Housing Agencies oversee determining whether an applicant qualifies for benefits. Applicants must provide all the necessary documents to prove their eligibility to their respective PHA.
Furthermore, Section 8 housing benefit recipients may lose their housing assistance at any time after they receive approval for their benefits. Section 8 beneficiaries need to follow the program’s rules and other rules of a tenancy. The Office of Hearing and Appeals oversees handling any complaints or violations against recipients initiated by the HUD. For this reason, it is vital for program applicants as well as participants to meet all the requirements and follow the rules once they receive benefits.
1. Types of Section 8 Denials
A PHA can deny a Section 8 application only for program violations that lie on the grounds of denial of assistance. Denial of Section 8 housing benefits include the following:
- Denial or withdrawal of housing vouchers
- Rejection from the PHA waiting list
- Refusal of portability of Section 8 benefits when applicants change residency
- Applicant refuses to enter a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contact
Families that apply for Section 8 and receive a denial notice from the PHA can appeal the decision. Denials of housing benefits can happen for the following reasons:
- Not meeting eligibility criteria
- Lack of appropriate documentation
- Criminal violations in assisted housing premises
- Violation of program obligations
2. Not Meeting Section 8 Criteria
PHAs can deny a Section 8 application if the candidate does not meet the program’s requirements. There are four Section 8 housing requirements. Applicants must meet all four conditions, or the PHA will deny their request for benefits. The four Section 8 qualifications are the following:
- Family composition – Section 8 applicants must meet the HUD definition of family. Single applicants can qualify as families if they meet the program’s guidelines. Additionally, families that apply do not need to have children to meet this requirement.
- Income requirement – The housing voucher program is targeted to provide housing assistance to low-income individuals. The program has set three income levels against 30, 50 and 80 percent of the state median income. These levels are extremely low-income, very low-income and low-income, respectively.
Initially, only applicants at or below the 50 percent level receive benefits. In some instances, PHAs will make exceptions for applicants between the 50 percent and 80 percent categories. Applicants whose income falls above these set levels will not qualify for benefits.
Moreover, family size and composition are also vital when determining if a family meets the income requirements. Section 8 applicant families with more members will have a higher income limit to qualify.
- Citizenship requirement – All U.S. citizens that meet the income requirements can apply for Section 8 and get approval from the PHA. On the other hand, only eligible non-citizens are eligible for housing voucher benefits. Qualifying applicants under a special status such as refugee or permanent resident must provide individual documents from the INS to prove their legal status.
- Unlawful eviction history – Section 8 applicants must have a clean eviction history related to criminal activities on housing provided through federal assistance.
Note: This guide covers with more detail the criminal eviction denials on a more detailed section below.
Families that apply for section 8 and fail to meet any one of the requirements mentioned above will receive a denial letter. Families can appeal Section 8 application denials if they believe that they meet all the requirements.
3. Failing to Provide Section 8 Forms
Families must submit their Section 8 application along with all the appropriate documentation. Applicants will receive a Section 8 denial letter if they fail to provide the following information:
- Names of the family members living in the unit, including sex, date of birth and relationship of the family head
- Unique family characteristics such as veteran status, elderly family, displaced family or disabled family (if applicable)
- Current address and contact information
- Contact information of the applicant’s previous landlords
- Income information
- Other personal information including affiliation with banks and work history
Additionally, Section 8 applicants must provide relevant information to prove their legal status. To verify Section 8 eligibility as a citizen, families can provide documents like U.S. birth certificates and passports. Eligible non-citizens must provide documents from the INS to prove their legal status.
The PHA requires families to submit their Section 8 application and documents by the time of the eligibility determination. Section 8 applicants only need to provide their citizenship information once as the PHA will not need to collect it again. On the other hand, families that do not have the required documents may receive an extension for up to 30 days to submit the evidence of eligible status.
4. Section 8 Denials for Criminal Evictions or Convictions
PHAs may deny Section 8 housing benefits on the ground of criminal history and eviction. Applicants who owe money a PHA for Section 8 rentals or have an outstanding balance with other public housing benefits will receive a denial letter. Families who breach PHA agreements will also be unable to use their housing voucher benefits.
Additionally, public housing agencies can deny a Section 8 application because of illegal use or possession of a controlled substance. However, Section 8 applicants who are addicted to or recovering from an addiction to a controlled substance cannot be denied from receiving housing voucher benefits. Other crimes that could cause for a section 8 housing denial include:
- Fraud and other corrupt or criminal action to any federal housing program.
- Violent criminal activity.
- Convictions for manufacturing or producing methamphetamine on the premises of an assisted housing project, common areas and its proximities.
Note: PHA can deny Section 8 applications on sufficient grounds that any of the family members commit any of the crimes mentioned above.
5. Family Violations of Section 8 Obligations
Family members who violate the Section 8 housing obligations can cause the denial of benefits for the whole household. Family obligations under the Section 8 program include the following:
- Breaches to housing quality standards (HQS)
- Not permitting and HUD inspection of the HQS
- Not complying with lease agreements
- Failing to submit a notice of relocation or eviction
- Subletting or assigning a lease
- Family absences from the PHA sponsored rental
- Receiving duplicate assistance
A PHA that decides to deny or terminate Section 8 housing assistance to a family has the discretion to consider the circumstances and extent of each case. Housing agencies will decide on Section 8 denials based on the participation of individual family members, and the effects the denial has on potential beneficiaries.Families may receive their Section 8 housing benefits upon special conditions of continued assistance. For instance, beneficiary families may not live with the family member guilty of any one of the program’s violations, or they too will be violating the program’s family obligations for continued assistance.