How to Manage Denials and Appeals for Section 8

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is a federal aid program that gives financial benefits for housing. Also known as Section 8, the program gives the funds to the participating landlords in order to reduce the amount of rent money for low-income families to put towards housing. The benefits of the programs are administered by the public housing agencies (PHA) in the area. There are also some eligibility requirements that are set by the PHAs.

If a family does not meet the requirements, the household will not receive benefits. Additionally, a family receiving benefits can still have their benefits revoked or changed if the Section 8 rules are violated. If residents have had their benefits denied, revoked or changed, it is important that they read the Section 8 denial letter to learn about the important actions they must take like knowing when to file an appeal and how to do it. 

About the Section 8 Denial Letter

If your family is denied a housing voucher from the HCV, you will be sent a letter from the PHA in your area. The letter will contain the reason why you were denied benefits or why your benefits have changed or were revoked. The letter will also have the instructions needed in order to submit an appeal.

Common Reasons Why Section 8 is Denied

The HCV program gives funding that indirectly goes to qualifying low- and very-low-income households that need housing assistance. Since this is an income-based program, the most typical reason for being denied housing assistance is that the household has an income higher than the income limit for receiving Section 8 funds. 

If your family was denied because of income, it is important to note that you have a chance to qualify for the program in another area. Every county or metropolitan area has its own income limit, so not every other county or metropolitan area is an opportunity for Section 8 benefits. This is very advantageous for if you were only denied Section 8 benefits because of your income. So, consider submitting to another PHA if this is your circumstance.

However, this is not the only reason people are denied Section 8 funds. There are many reasons as to why a household cannot receive housing assistance, including:

  • A member of the household being convicted for a violent crime.
  • A member in the household being convicted with a drug-related crime while living in a Section 8 home.
  • A recent eviction record on the family. 
  • An applicant being unable to or refusing to give any proof supporting the information they have submitted with the application like proof of income.
  • The family not meeting the Section 8 standards for family composition.

If you were denied benefits, look over your Section 8 denial letter to find out what the reason is for the denial. When you review the reason for the denial, you will probably receive a better understanding of your eligibility for housing assistance. You will also figure out if you will have to file an appeal or if you should apply to another county or metropolitan area.

Learn About Changes Made After Obtaining Section 8 Benefits

The PHAs can choose to revoke Section 8 funds if a household is no longer eligible for government aid with the HCV program. The Section 8 funds can be taken back at any time. Furthermore, when the benefits are changed, denied or withdrawn the PHA is legally required to send a denial letter to the household. Section 8 funds can be removed for several reasons, which can include the following:

  • The household did not report the changes for income, household size or family composition or other requirements that need to be approved by the PHA.
  • A family member committed a drug-related or violent crime.
  • The household is not eligible for benefits because they do meet the requirements to maintain their benefits.

Often times, the PHAs will review many factors when deciding if they will remove or change benefits. For instance, if one of the family members commits a crime, then the PHA will decide if the whole household must lose their eligibility for benefits or only the member who committed the crime. There are some cases when the PHA will choose to continue providing benefits to the other household members.

What Happens If You Lose Your Qualifications While on the Section 8 Waiting List

Section 8 waiting lists are known for their lengthy waiting time. This is especially true for densely populated areas where the need for housing is quite high. It is not rare for applicants to eventually lose their eligibility while on the waiting list.

When your family is put on the waiting list for housing assistance, the qualifications for the household with have to be review again before the funds can be disbursed. Furthermore, if your household is still found eligible to get funds, it is possible your benefit amount can change from your previous amount. These changes in funds are caused by any changes in household and income.

Your Rights to a Section 8 Appeal

If you have received a Section 8 denial letter, you have a right file an appeal to the PHA that sent it, even when the denial letter has stated that there are only changes or revocation of benefits. An appeal does not guarantee you approval, the appeal can be used as a way to review your denial a second time to see if it is correct.

When should you file an appeal?

When you are sent a Section 8 denial letter, it is important that you make your appeal immediately. The request for an appeal needs to be made before the mandatory date listed on the Section 8 denial letter. If you file an appeal after the date that is listed, you will not be able to appeal the denial of benefits. You will then have to reapply for your Section 8 benefits.

How to File an Appeal

The denial letter will have the instruction for filing your appeal and request an informal hearing. When you request for the hearing has been approved, it is by law the PHA cannot halt rental payments on the behalf of your household until a decision has been made regarding the appeal.

The informal hearings for Section 8 are made by third parties appointed by the PHA. Before the hearing, you need to give documentation to support your case. By law, you have the right to receive counsel and have a lawyer represent you at the hearing if you choose to do so.