Seniors will receive a Section 8 denial letter by the local Public Housing Authority (PHA) office if they are denied housing assistance under a Section 8 program. Anticipating that applicants would have concerns over what to do if Section 8 application was denied, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a regulation requiring that written denial letters include information on applicants’ rights to appeal PHA decisions. A full explanation of PHA policies and procedures governing informal hearings is also available in the administrative plan of every PHA. The Section 8 denial appeal process is available when applicants believe that a PHA determined their eligibility incorrectly, ended their benefits inappropriately or denied them on the basis of discrimination. Public housing agencies are prohibited by federal law from discriminating against any applicant on the basis of protected characteristics including age, race, gender and religion. They are also forbidden to discriminate on the basis of family composition. Denied seniors should know what are the reason for Section 8 denial determinations if they wish to appeal the decision.
Reasons for Section 8 Denials
Section 8 housing disqualifications can occur for a number of reasons. The first step for an applicant deciding if and how to appeal Section 8 denial decisions is to examine the stated cause of rejection or termination. One of the most frequent causes of housing assistance denials is an applicant’s failure to qualify under the eligibility criteria established by HUD. Section 8 regulations require that PHAs deny an applicant assistance if he or she does not qualify as elderly under program-specific statutes, had not been diagnosed with an eligible disability or had an adjusted annual gross income that exceeds HUD’s annual-updated statutory limits.
Another Section 8 housing disqualification is the willful or negligent failure of an applicant to submit or supply all of the documentation and information needed during the application process.
If a Section 8 application was denied for this reason, then the applicant may have forgotten to complete the request or include evidence to validate the request for benefits. This includes failing to provide this information within the time-specified window when applicable. The PHA needs material that supports eligibility for benefits. Examples of crucial documentation that may be missing or incomplete and result in Section 8 denial are proof of citizenship, income or disability. Applicants may have refused to sign the necessary consent forms to allow the PHA to procure relevant information from third parties. Submission of false information or intentionally omitting requested and relevant information that might disqualify an applicant is considered fraud and result in a temporary or permanent denial of housing assistance.
Applicants asking, “What are the reasons for Section 8 denial to seniors?” must also be aware that PHAs may deny older petitioners for earning too much income or collect housing from an incompatible subsidy program. For instance, a Section 8 denial letter will be issued to current program beneficiaries living in public housing or receiving Indian housing assistance. Likewise, seniors living in nursing homes may not be eligible for housing assistance funding through the Section 8 program. However, there may be other federal housing programs available.
Section 8 housing disqualifications may also be the result of applicants or applicant family members having broken or violated Section 8 policies or statutory limits. For example, HUD policy stipulates that petitioners be denied Section 8 assistance if they were evicted from a federally funded housing assistance program within the last five years or have ever been terminated from a PHA rental assistance program. Assistance is also denied to applicants who have committed fraud or bribery related to a federal assistance program or who are or threaten to be violent toward PHA staff. Alcohol and substance abuse and criminal activity, including domestic or dating violence and stalking, are also statutory grounds for denial of Section 8 benefits. Additionally, PHAs may deny benefits to applicants they believe are incompatible with Section 8’s tenancy requirements.
Download our free housing guide for seniors to find out what to do if you have received a Section 8 denial letter.
How to Appeal Section 8 Denial Letters
Written Section 8 denial letters must be issued in a timely manner to seniors and all other applicants denied housing assistance under the program. Letters are required to define the reasons for Section 8 denial and explain the PHA’s grounds for the decision. If Section 8 applications are denied, then PHAs are required to advise the declined applicants of their rights to an appeal. Instructions on how to appeal Section 8 denial determinations must accompany all denial letters.
Prior to the Section 8 denial appeal hearing, the PHA and the applicant will be afforded opportunities to request and review documentation from one another related to the case. For use during the Section 8 denial appeal hearing, both sides are free to make copies at their expenses if they wish. Only documents made available for use may be referred to. Seniors’ Section 8 denial appeals may be handled by, or with the assistance of, a lawyer at the applicant’s request and expense. All hearings will be overseen by qualifying PHA officials. At the conclusion of a hearing, the final determination will be documented in writing and include a recounting of applicable evidence and logic.
For details on the information and documentation needed during the Section 8 appeal hearing, download our guide on housing for seniors.