Owner Improperly Removed Daughter from Household Composition
Facts: For most of her life, a resident’s daughter lived at a Section 8 site. In or prior to 2007, without her knowledge, her mother removed her from the household composition forms. She continued to live in the apartment. When her mother moved out and she sought to take over the lease, HUD denied the continuation of the Section 8 subsidy because she wasn’t a party to the lease.
At some time in or before 2007, and unbeknownst to the daughter, the mother verbally notified an individual in the management office of the building that her daughter was no longer residing in the apartment. The mother did not submit, and the owner did not ask for, a written request for the daughter’s removal or proof substantiating her removal from the household. The mother didn’t recall when she removed the daughter’s name from the household composition, nor why, but admitted that she had been a drug addict at the time and her memory of that period is a “total blur.” The recertification forms submitted by the mother in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 do not list the daughter as a member of the household composition, despite the fact that she continued to reside in the apartment. In each of those years, she was employed and her income should have been reported to properly calculate the Section 8 subsidy paid by HUD.
The mother testified that, after she removed her daughter from the household composition, she tried for three consecutive years to re-add her during the recertification process, but the owner refused. According to the mother, the owner informed her that family members removed from the composition could not be added later. The owner complained to property management but was unaware that she could or should contact HUD. The daughter was never added back to the household composition.
The daughter sued HUD and the owner to challenge the denial of her Section 8 subsidy, alleging violations of the due process clause, the constitutional safeguard against arbitrary denial of property by the government. HUD asked the court for a judgment without a trial.
Ruling: A New York district court ruled that HUD may have violated the daughter’s due process rights on her removal from the household composition.
Reasoning: The court stated that the daughter’s removal from the housing composition deprived her of her entitlement to the continued receipt of the subsidy. As HUD has made clear, under Section 3-16 of the HUD Handbook 4350.3, her removal from the household composition made her ineligible to be considered a remaining member of a tenant family and, thus, ineligible to continue to receive the Section 8 subsidy.
According to the court, the owner’s removal of the daughter, and refusal to add her, deprived the daughter of her property interest. The court noted that HUD regulations, the HUD Handbook, and the site’s policy all require independent verification when an individual is removed from the household composition. For instance, HUD regulations require an owner to conduct annual reexaminations of family income and composition and to conduct interim reexaminations upon a family’s request. The HUD Handbook Section 3-27 also indicates that owners may want to verify a family member’s departure. And during the deposition, it was made clear that it was the site’s policy to require a notarized letter from the head of the household, a notarized letter from the person moving out, and proof that the individual moved out, such as a new lease or phone bill. These procedural safeguards all protect an individual’s property interest in their Section 8 subsidy, but none were afforded to the daughter. As such, the court ruled that the continued receipt of the Section 8 subsidy was denied without her knowledge or consent and without notice or due process, in violation of the Constitution and applicable regulations.
- Greene v. HUD, June 2017