PHA Can Impose Written Reporting Deadlines for Income Changes
Facts: A resident had been receiving rent subsidies under HUD's Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program for eight years when she failed to provide the local public housing authority (PHA) with timely change-of-income information required by local rules.
When she completed her annual program recertification process in June 2010, she signed a copy of the PHA's “family obligations” policy and watched a film explaining the policies. By signing, the resident acknowledged obligations, including one that states, “I understand that I must report all changes in my household income in writing to the [Housing Authority] within five days of the change,” and another that states, “I understand that false statements or information are grounds for termination of housing assistance.”
That same month she applied for benefits for a new unit. The next month she faxed a letter to the PHA representing that she had no income. But on Aug. 4, the PHA received a packet from the resident's site manager containing an income certification form that the resident completed indicating that she received $7,764 yearly in public-assistance income. The PHA confirmed with the county's social services that the resident had received $375 on July 14 and $647 on July 30 in grants. The PHA then notified her that it was terminating her housing assistance because she didn't report this income.
The resident requested and received an informal hearing. She alleged that she left a voicemail message about the recent income payments. The officer concluded that she didn't report income in writing within five days of receiving it and decided that her Section 8 housing assistance should be terminated. The resident appealed the PHA's decision.
Ruling: A Minnesota appeals court agreed with the PHA's decision.
Reasoning: Consistent with federal provisions, the PHA adopted a screening and evaluation policy for reviewing household income, requiring program participants to report any increase in household income, in writing, within five days of the change. Contrary to the resident's arguments, this local policy follows the federal mandate to local housing authorities to adopt policies prescribing when and under what conditions a family must report a change in household income or composition. Federal law doesn't expressly prohibit PHAs from including deadlines within their reporting requirements. Therefore, the PHA is allowed to terminate the resident's housing benefits because the evidence supports the PHA's decision.
- Peterson v. Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, August 2011