PHA Can Terminate Resident's Section 8 Enrollment
Facts: A resident's daughter sued the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for terminating the resident's enrollment in the Section 8 voucher program. HPD determined that the resident's subsidy should be terminated due to her absence from her subsidized unit for 180 consecutive days, and due to her daughter's failure to provide documentation that the building management had allowed the daughter to be added to the lease.
The resident had a stroke in November 2008, and since then has resided in a nursing home. In September 2009, the daughter moved into the unit to care for the resident's grandchildren, including two minor children. In August 2009, HPD first attempted to terminate the resident's Section 8 subsidy based on her absence from her unit. An informal hearing was held, and HPD's officer found that there were mitigating circumstances. This conditional reversal, however, was contingent on the daughter submitting the necessary documentation to demonstrate that she had become the “head of household” for the unit subject to the Section 8 subsidy, as well as submitting a recertification package.
In April 2010, HPD advised the daughter that it had not received a letter from building management stating that she was the head of the household or an updated letter of family composition. Therefore, pursuant to an informal hearing decision dated Feb. 4, 2010, HPD terminated the Section 8 rent subsidy.
Ruling: A New York trial court agreed with HPD's decision to terminate the rent subsidy.
Reasoning: The daughter failed to establish that HPD's termination of the Section 8 subsidy was arbitrary and capricious. HUD regulation requires that “the family may not be absent from the unit for a period of more than 180 consecutive calendar days in any circumstance, or for any reason.” Here, it is undisputed that HPD terminated the resident's enrollment in the Section 8 voucher program only after an initial warning, an informal hearing, and multiple opportunities for her daughter to replace the resident as the head of the household to preserve the Section 8 subsidy. The daughter didn't submit the missing “head of household” papers, nor did she establish that they were ever provided to HPD. Accordingly, HPD didn't act in an arbitrary or capricious manner by terminating the resident's enrollment in the Section 8 voucher program.
- Matter of Sierra v. HPD, August 2011