Denials of Section 8 Housing Assistance
If you applied for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8 housing assistance, but received a denial of your application, you still have options to appeal that decision. Your Public Housing Agency (PHA) will notify you of a denial by written letter that you will receive in the mail. In that written denial letter, you should learn the exact reasons why you were denied.
Denials can happen for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the fact that many PHAs have yearlong waiting lists. By the time your name reaches the top, you might be deemed ineligible based on new factors and information since your original application.
Beyond just meeting the income eligibility requirements, you and your family also must meet all other requirements set forth by your local PHA. If you no longer meet all of those requirements, then you might be issued a denial letter. The local PHA may also have changed eligibility requirements since your application, so be sure you fully understand current regulations before your hearing.
While each PHA establishes its own criteria for eligibility, some typical factors that lead to a Housing Choice Voucher Program application denial include the following:
- If you or anyone in your family (family includes individuals in your household) has a criminal record
- If you have a history of evictions or other issues with former landlords
- If you have a bad credit score and history
- If you falsified any information on your application
If you are already a tenant using housing vouchers, your denial of assistance could include the withdrawal of your vouchers, the refusal to provide assistance or the refusal to enter into a contract or to approve of a unit. If you receive a denial of assistance notice, your local PHA cannot yet terminate your voucher payments while your appeal process is ongoing.
How to Appeal a Denial
If you have received a letter of denial, you have the right to appeal your rejection. Pay very close attention to the deadline dates provided within the letter and be sure to adhere to those. You might only have ten days to appeal the denial or you could have up to 60 days. Do not miss an appeal deadline or you will be unable to challenge the original decision.
You will have to request an informal hearing to appeal your denial of housing assistance. This hearing will be held with a different PHA representative than the one who issued the denial, but it will still be someone who worked on and is familiar with your case. The hearing is sometimes called a review hearing or even a conference. Generally, you can expect to schedule your hearing within two weeks to 30 days from the date of the denial notice.
You will be required to submit all relevant and required documentation to the hearing officer for full review. You have the right to request a copy of your original application prior to the hearing so you can review it yourself to ensure accuracy. Other documents you might want to gather for your hearing include:
- Your voucher program contract
- Any repayment agreements you hold
- Any and all claims of damage
- Your lease contracts (current and previous)
- If you were denied because of previous evictions, you can try to explain the circumstances and also show proof of other housing and good references from other landlords.
- Any written complaints you have issued or that have been issued against you
- Witness statements to support your case
- Police reports to support your case
- If you were denied because of a criminal record, ensure the information is valid and correct. Bring any supporting documentation to show you have participated in counselling, rehabilitation or community service, and any character references to support your application for housing. assistance.
- Any other relevant documents (especially to address the exact reasons for denial indicated in your letter)
What Happens During an Appeal
Once you schedule your informal hearing, you should prepare for the meeting and the questions that will come with it. Be sure to carefully review the denial letter you received from the PHA so you understand their concerns and you can address them accordingly.
You have the right to bring legal representation with you and to present an argument supporting your eligibility. The PHA will present its reasons for denial, you will have a chance to present your own side, and both sides can ask questions of the other. Bring supporting documentation with you, especially in reference to the specific concerns raised in your denial letter by the PHA.
The hearing officer or administrative judge will make a decision regarding your case by the end of the informal hearing.
If you receive another rejection, you could choose to take your case to state or federal court, just be prepared for a long and challenging process. In some public housing jurisdictions, you have the right to request an additional review of the denial decision or to submit another appeal to the overseeing body (for example, a state Department of Housing).
If your denial is overturned at your hearing, then you can recommence the process of acquiring housing assistance or simply carry on at your current home with your PHA continuing to issue your monthly vouchers.
Relocation Assistance Denial
Another type of housing assistance denial is in relation to relocation assistance. If you are a current tenant receiving housing choice vouchers, you have the right to move to a new home; you are not obligated to stay in your current housing for any specific length of time.
However, if you choose to relocate to a new public housing agency’s jurisdiction, their rules and eligibility requirements may differ. You might receive a denial notice of your relocation assistance or of the amount you requested. You have the right to appeal this decision, too.
The appeal process is similar: Be sure you adhere to the deadline dates indicated in your denial letter and request your informal hearing to present your case. Your case will be determined at the hearing by an impartial judge.
If you receive another rejection during your appeal, you can again take your case to the next level by contacting your state department of housing.