How to Count Absent Members When Calculating Household Size and Income
A household may report to you that one of its members will be absent from the unit. For instance, an applicant may report that she has a daughter who's away at school. Or an existing resident may report that his wife had a stroke and will be confined to a nursing home. When certifying or recertifying these households, you need to know whether to count these absent household members for purposes of determining unit size and household income.
We'll tell you how to count absent household members so you can correctly calculate household size and income.
Count These as Members
HUD Handbook 4350.3 spells out which absent members to count and which not to count. These rules say you should count the following individuals as household members:
Children away at school who live in unit during school breaks. If, for instance, a child is going away to college but plans to be home summers and holidays, continue to count her as a household member [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-6(E)(4)(c)].
Children temporarily placed in foster homes. For instance, a social service agency may have temporarily removed a child from the household while investigating allegations of abuse or neglect. Count that child as a household member [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-6(E)(4)(a)].
Children subject to joint custody agreements who live in unit at least 50 percent of the time. If a household head has a joint custody agreement with her daughter's father, for instance, and the child lives in the unit, say, Mondays through Fridays, count the child as a household member [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-6(E)(4)(b)].
Members stationed in military who leave dependents or spouses in unit. If, for instance, a daughter goes on active military duty and leaves her dependent child in the unit with her parents, count the daughter as a member of the household and include her military pay in the household's income [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-6(B)(3)(a)].
Members temporarily in hospitals or nursing homes. If a household member is temporarily hospitalized, HUD says that you should include her in the household and count her income [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-6(E)(4)(g)]. And the household can still take advantage of any deductions from the income that the hospitalized member qualifies for.
If the household member is permanently confined to a hospital or nursing home, the household gets to decide whether you should treat the resident as a household member [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-6(D)(1)]. If they want you to treat him as a member, you must count his income as part of household income. But the household may also be entitled to allowances for the absentee, which can lower the household's adjusted income and rent. If they don't want you to treat him as a household member, don't include the income and don't allow the household to claim any allowances for him.
Temporarily absent household heads, co-heads, or spouses. If the household head, co-head, or spouse leaves to take a temporary job out of town or for extended travel, for instance, you must continue to count him as a household member and count his income. You must count all the income, even if part of it isn't available to the household [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-6(B)(1)].
However, if a household member is temporarily absent due to jail time as a result of a serious crime, HUD's “One Strike” rule will apply to the member and action must be taken to remove the member from the lease. The One Strike rule requires that leases for HUD-assisted housing include clauses covering eviction for certain types of criminal activity [HUD Handbook 4350.3, App. 4-A to 4-D]. These include:
Drug-related criminal activity on or near the site by any “tenant, household member, or guest, or any drug-related activity at the site by any other person under the tenant's control”;
Current illegal drug use or alcohol abuse, or a pattern of illegal drug use or alcohol abuse that interferes with other residents' “health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment” of the site;
Other criminal activity that “threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the site” by other residents or by people who live in the immediate vicinity of the site; and
Fugitive felon status or parole violations.
Consult with your attorney about how to handle household members who are in jail.
Don't Count These as Members
HUD rules say that you shouldn't count the following individuals as household members:
Members on active military duty who leave no dependents or spouses in unit. If a son goes into the military and leaves neither dependents nor a spouse in the unit, then don't count his income and don't include any of his allowances when calculating household income [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-6(B)(3)].
Children subject to joint custody agreements who live in unit less than 50 percent of the time. If a household head has a son who's subject to a joint custody agreement with the child's father, for instance, but stays with the household head only on weekends, don't count the son as a member of the household [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-6(E)(4)(b)].
Permanently absent household members. Obviously, if a household tells you that a member has moved out and won't be returning, you shouldn't continue to count him as part of the household and shouldn't count his income [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-6(B)(2)].