Attorneys, especially those new to the practice of law, can
benefit from knowledge of Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers and the
Section 8 termination process. Under the Section 8 Program, rental
assistance is paid on behalf of eligible low income families to
help them afford housing in the private rental market. Rental units
must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by
a Public Housing Authority, who administers the Section 8 vouchers.
A housing subsidy is paid to a landlord directly by the Housing
Authority, and the Section 8 recipient is then responsible to pay
the difference between the rent charged by the landlord and the
The grounds for which a participant's subsidy may be terminated are
set forth at 24 C.F.R. § 982.551; 24 C.F.R. § 982.552 and 24
C.F.R. § 982.553. Additionally, a Section 8 termination is subject
to the due process requirements established in Goldberg v.
Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970). If the Housing Authority
determines that a termination is appropriate, it must: (i) give the
participant(s) prompt written notice that contains a brief
statement of reasons for the termination; (ii) inform the
participant(s) that he or she may request an informal hearing on
the decision; and (iii) state the deadline for the participant(s)
to request the hearing 24 C.F.R. § 982.555(c)(2). This notice must
include sufficient facts so that it puts the family on notice to
the reasons for the proposed termination. The Housing Authority may
terminate only on the basis of grounds set forth in the notice, and
not on any other grounds. The Housing Authority must also give the
opportunity to examine any Housing Authority documents that are
directly related to the hearing.
Generally, the rules of evidence applicable to judicial proceedings
do not apply to Section 8 termination hearings and therefore
reliable hearsay is admissible. During a termination hearing, the
hearing officer may consider all relevant circumstances such as the
seriousness of the case, the extent of participation or culpability
of individual family members, mitigating circumstances related to
the disability of a family member, and the effects of termination
of the voucher on other family members who were not involved. After
the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer must issue a
written decision stating briefly the reason for his or her
decision. Additional fact determinations must be based on a
preponderance of the evidence presented at the hearing.
There is no formal appeal process for Section 8 terminations.
However, if a Section 8 participant is terminated from the program,
they may either seek to enjoin the termination or seek retroactive
reinstatement. Courts have provided relief where it is alleged that
a Section 8 subsidy has been terminated in a manner not consistent
with due process or the requirements of federal law. Given that
these cases are challenging and complicated, knowing certain key
provisions can be a valuable asset ultimately benefiting a young
attorney representing clients in housing related matters.