Termination from Section 8 Voucher Program
Authored By: Colorado Legal Services
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Termination from Section 8 Housing Choice Program
Can a housing authority terminate my participation in the Section 8 Voucher Program? +
Yes, a housing authority may termination a family’s participation in the Section 8 Voucher Program if certain grounds for termination of assistance are met.
The purpose of this information is to help you determine whether those criteria have been met and how to respond. If the grounds for termination of assistance are met, the housing authority can refuse to enter into a HAP contract, refuse to approve a lease, terminate housing assistance payments under an existing contract, or refuse to process or provide assistance under portability procedures.
What are the grounds for terminating assistance? +
A housing authority can terminate participation in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program if the family fails to meet any of their obligations under the program.
The housing authority must provide the family with a written description of the obligations under the program.
These obligations include:
A. supply any information that the housing authority or HUD determines is necessary, including evidence of citizenship or eligible immigration status;
B. supply any information requested by the housing authority or HUD for use in reexamination of family income or family composition;
C. disclose and verify social security numbers and sign and submit consent forms for obtaining information;
D. give true and complete information as required or requested;
E. not to cause a breach in the housing quality standards of the unit by the family;
F. allow the housing authority to inspect the unit at reasonable times and after receiving reasonable notice;
G. not commit repeated or serious violation of the lease*;
H. must notify the housing authority and owner before moving out of the unit or terminating the lease;
I. must give the housing authority a copy of any eviction notice;
J. use the unit as a residence by the family, and it must be the family’s only residence;
K. notify the housing authority if there are any changes in the composition of the family and request approval to add other family members;
L. notify the housing authority if a family member no longer lives in the unit;
M. must not sublease or assign the unit;
N. must verify that the family is living in the unit or supply information relating to absence from the unit;
O. must not own or have any interest in the unit;
P. must not commit fraud, bribery, or any corrupt or criminal act in connection with the program;
Q. must not engage in drug-related criminal activity**;
R. must not engage in violent criminal activity***;
S. must not engage in any criminal activity that threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment by others***;
T. must not abuse alcohol in a way that threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment by others;
U. may not receive Section 8 assistance with receiving another subsidy in a housing assistance program.
*Lease violations: Incidents of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault will not be construed as serious or repeated lease violations by the victim or threatened victim, or construed as good cause to terminate assistance to the victim.
**Drug related criminal activity: The housing authority may terminate assistance if it determines that any family member is currently using illegal drugs, or a pattern of illegal drug use by any family member interferes with the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents.
***Other criminal activity: Criminal activity directly related to a domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking by a member of the tenant’s household or any guest or other person under the tenant’s control, shall not be cause for termination of assistance to the victim, if the tenant or an affiliated individual of the tenant is the victim.
In addition, the housing authority can terminate assistance in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program for the following reasons:
1. If any family member has been evicted from federally assisted housing in the last five years;
2. If the housing authority has ever terminated assistance from the program for any family member;
3. If any family member has ever committed fraud, bribery, or criminal act in connection with any federal housing program;
4. If the family owes rent any housing authority in connection with Section 8 or public housing assistance;
5. If the family has not reimbursed any housing authority for money paid to an owner for rent, damages, or amounts owed under the lease;
6. If the family breaks an agreement with the housing authority to pay money to the housing authority or money paid by the housing authority to an owner;
7. If a family in the FSS program fails to comply with the terms of the program;
8. If the family engaged in or threatened abusive or violent behavior towards housing authority staff;
9. If a welfare to work family willfully and persistently fails to fulfill its obligations under the welfare-to work voucher program;
10. If a household member has ever been convicted of manufacturing producing methamphetamine on the premises of federally assisted housing;
11. The family is responsible for causing conditions in the home which constitute a breach of housing quality standards (HQS).
What does the housing authority have to do to terminate assistance? +
The housing authority must give the family a written description of the family’s obligations, the grounds on which it can deny or terminate assistance based on the family’s action or failure to act, and its informal hearing procedures.
If the housing authority proposes to terminate assistance for a criminal activity as shown on a criminal record, it must notify the household of the proposed action and must provide the subject of the criminal record and the tenant with a copy of the criminal record.
You are entitled to an informal hearing related to determination of family income and the use of income to compute the housing assistance payment, determination of utility allowance, or determination of family unit size. In these cases, the housing authority must notify the family that they can ask for an explanation of the basis of the determination. The notice must state that, if you do not agree with the determination, you can request an informal hearing.
You are also entitled to an informal hearing related to a determination to terminate assistance because of the family’s actions or failure to act (described above) or a determination to terminate assistance because the family has been absent from the unit for longer than allowed. In these cases, the housing authority must give the family an opportunity for an informal hearing before it terminates housing assistance payments under an existing HAP contract. In these cases, the housing authority must give you prompt written notice that you may request a hearing. The notice must contain a brief statement of the reasons for the decision, state that if you do not agree with the decision that you can request an informal hearing on the decision, and state the deadline for requesting an informal hearing.
When you are given notice by the housing authority that it will terminate your participation in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, you should immediately make a written request for a hearing to challenge the proposed termination. If you fail to request a hearing, your housing assistance will be terminated and you may lose the right to appeal that termination. This means that after you are terminated, the housing authority will no longer subsidize your rent and you will become responsible to pay the full contract rent.
What are my rights regarding a housing authority hearing? +
Before the hearing, you may inspect any housing authority documents and regulations that are directly relevant to the hearing, including criminal records, and copy any such documents at your own expense. If the housing authority does not make the document available to you at your request, the housing authority may not rely upon the document at the hearing. The housing authority may inspect any family documents that are directly relevant to the hearing, and copy any such documents at its expense. If you do not make the document available to the housing authority at its request, you cannot rely on the document at the hearing. Keep a list of all documents that you request from the housing authority and that the housing authority requests from you. The process of inspecting or copying documents to use in the hearing is often called “discovery.”
You have the right to be represented by a lawyer or other representative at your own expense.If you cannot afford a lawyer, it is highly recommended that you contact Colorado Legal Services at 303-837-1313 as soon as possible to see whether they can represent you at the informal hearing.You have the right to question all witnesses testifying for or against you.
You have the right to present evidence and establish all important facts and circumstances by oral testimony and documents.
You have the right to dispute the accuracy and relevance of a criminal record.
What does the housing authority consider in making a decision about my case? +
In determining whether to terminate Section 8 assistance, the housing authority can consider all of the circumstances of a case. These include the seriousness of the case, the extent of participation or guilt of individual family members, mitigating circumstances related to the disability of a family member, and the effects of termination on other innocent family members.
The housing authority may let some members of a household keep the Section 8 assistance on the condition that any family member who violated Section 8 rules will not continue to live with the family. If the family includes a person with a disability, the housing authority decision to terminate assistance is subject to the consideration of reasonable accommodation.
In determining whether to deny assistance for illegal drug use or alcohol abuse by a family member who no longer engages in that behavior, the housing authority can consider whether that family member is participating in or has successfully completed a supervised drug or alcohol rehab program or has otherwise been otherwise successfully rehabilitated. The housing authority can require submission of participation or completion of a rehab program or evidence of successful rehabilitation.
If the housing authority does not exercise its discretion or consider these important factors, you should ask the hearing officer to consider all the circumstances of your case before issuing a decision on the proposed termination of your Section 8 Voucher.
At the hearing, you have several options. First, if you did not commit a program violation, you will want to present documents and testimony showing that you have not done what the housing authority has accused you of doing. Second, if you did commit a program violation, you will want to argue to the housing authority that what you did is not serious enough for the housing authority to terminate your assistance and that you are willing to take steps to correct the violation - for example, by paying back money you owe to the housing authority. An option to consider when a family member has committed a fairly serious program violation is to offer to the housing authority that the guilty person will move out of your home if the rest of the family is allowed to keep its Section 8 assistance. If the termination is based upon the use or abuse of drugs or alcohol, the housing authority and hearing officer should consider whether the offending family member has been rehabilitated.
After the hearing, the person who conducted the hearing must issue a written decision, stating briefly the reasons for the decision. A copy of the decision must be given to you promptly. Factual determinations relating to your individual circumstances must be based on a preponderance of the evidence presented at the hearing. That means that the decision must be based on evidence that was actually presented at the hearing, and the person issuing the decision must decide that the facts are more likely true than not.