Program Participant
Reporting Changes to the Housing Authority
Requesting Changes to Household Composition
Removing any Household Member
Adding Adults
Adding Children
Reporting Changes to Your Income:
Increases in Family Income
Decreases in Family Income
Annual Re-certifications:
“Get Ready” Letter
Annual Review Packet
Verification of Employment Income
Verification of Other Income and Benefits
Verification of Assets
Voucher Size Redetermination
Rent Changes
Interim Examinations
Inspections
Terminating a Lease
Moving within the Area – Transfers
Moving outside the Area – Portables
Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program
HCV Homeownership Program
Special Needs
Program Fraud
Informal Hearing Procedures
Questions?

Program Participant

Once you lease a unit with Section 8 assistance, you are considered a program “participant.” Because you can lose your voucher if you do not adhere to program requirements, you should keep your Briefing Packet in a safe place and read your Voucher from time to time to remind yourself of the requirements.

More about the rules governing the program can be found at www.hud.gov and at www.hacosantacruz.org/adminplan

Listed below are some of the most common areas of participant issues and questions; however, this web site does not cover all rules and regulations and for definitive answers you should discuss areas of concern with Housing Authority staff.

(Go to top)

Reporting Changes to the Housing Authority

You are required to report all changes in your income, assets, or household composition to the Housing Authority, as outlined below. Additionally, you are required to provide any and all requested information to the Housing Authority in a timely manner. If you are late in providing documents, forms, or information to the Housing Authority, your assistance may be terminated.

(Go to top)

Requesting Changes to Your Household Composition

All changes in your household composition must be reported promptly to the Housing Authority. Some changes require prior approval or you risk losing your voucher. The following rules apply when making any changes to your household composition.

Removing any Household Member: If any member of your household moves out, you must notify the Housing Authority in writing within 14 calendar days of the move out date. Please complete the form Request to Remove Members from the Household and submit it to the Housing Authority within 14 days of the member leaving. The Housing Authority will verify the information and may conduct an Interim Re-examination, if warranted.

Adding Household Members: If you wish to add someone to your household you must get approval from the Housing Authority before allowing the person to move in. Please read How to Add New Members to your Household for more information on restrictions.

The Application to Add New Household Members must be completed and submitted to the Housing Authority. Once all information is received regarding the person being added, an Interim Examination will be performed. Depending on the volume of work, it may take several weeks to process the approval. You will receive a letter notifying you of the approval and the change in your rent, if any.

Adding Adults: If you would like to add an adult to your household, you must request advance permission in writing, and receive written permission from the Housing Authority before the additional adult moves in. Please use the Application to Add New Household Members form. The Housing Authority will conduct its standard eligibility screening at that time.

The following adults may be added to the household (if approved in advance by the Housing Authority).

  • The adult child of the head of household.
  • The parent of the head of household.

The following adults may be added to the household (if approved in advance by the Housing Authority), but will NOT increase the family’s voucher size:

  • The spouse, registered domestic partner, or significant other of the head of household.

Adding Children: If you would like to add a child to your household, you must request advance permission in writing if possible, and receive written permission from the Housing Authority before the child moves in. The Housing Authority understands that in some cases it may not be possible to request advance permission for the addition of a child. In such cases, you MUST notify the Housing Authority within 14 calendar days of the addition of the child. However, the Housing Authority may not approve the request.

The following children may be added to the household.

  • Birth child of head of household.
  • Birth child of the spouse or registered domestic partner of the head of household.
  • Children added through adoption, foster placement, or court awarded custody to the head of household or to the spouse or registered domestic partner of the head of household.

The following children may be added to the household, but will NOT increase the family’s voucher size.

  • Birth child of any existing household member, as long as the addition of that child does not cause overcrowding in the unit.

No other adults or children may move into the assisted unit, other than those specifically identified above.

Please be aware that if you fail to provide proper notification and / or request advance permission regarding any changes in your family composition, your housing assistance may be terminated, or you may be responsible for paying back any overpayment of subsidy caused by the unreported information or violation.

(Go to top)

Reporting Changes to Your Income

You are required to notify the Housing Authority in writing within 14 calendar days of any change to the income of any household member. Please report income changes with the Income Change Form. Failure to report changes on time to the Housing Authority is considered a program violation and your assistance may be terminated.

The following rules apply when reporting changes to your family income:

Increases in Family Income: If the income of any family member has increased, you must notify us in writing within 14 calendar days of the date of the increase. Please report income changes with the Income Change form.

We will verify the information you have provided, and make any necessary changes to your rental assistance. If there is an increase in income and you do not notify us in writing within 14 calendar days of the date of the increase, you will be required to pay a retroactive rent increase, effective the first day of the month following the date of the income increase. Additionally, if you do not notify the Housing Authority of any changes to your family income within the required timeframe, your housing assistance may be terminated.

Decreases in Family Income: If the income of any family member has decreased, you must notify us in writing within 14 calendar days of the date of the decrease. Please report the change in income with the Income Change form. We will verify the information you have provided, and make any necessary changes to your rental assistance. If you do not notify us in writing within 14 calendar days of the date of the decrease, your rent will not be lowered retroactively. Additionally, if you do not notify the Housing Authority of any changes to your family income within the required timeframe, your housing assistance may be terminated.

(Go to top)

Annual Re-certifications

At least once a year, the Housing Authority will conduct a mandatory re-examination in order to recertify your household composition, income, assets, and allowable expenses.

The re-examination can occur at any time up to 12 months from your entry into the Section 8 program or your last re-examination.

“Get Ready’ Letter: the Housing Authority will send a “get ready” letter to alert you a few weeks before you receive your annual re-examination packet. It is important to check your mail frequently during your annual re-examination process. You do not want to risk termination of your assistance just because you were not available to receive your mail.

Annual Review Packet: once you receive your packet you will have a limited time in which to complete and return the documentation, therefore, when you receive the “get ready” letter you should gather current, original documentation of all your income and assets (including pay stubs, benefits letters, bank statements, etc.) Failure to provide documents within the deadline can result in termination of your housing assistance.

The annual re-examination packet will contain a letter of instruction and forms requesting the information needed to complete this process. You will have at least two weeks to complete and submit the required forms and documentation.

Verification of Employment Income

You will be required to provide current, original documentation of your income, assets and other information. Here is a list of typical documents and information you should submit:

Wages: you will be asked to provide the three most current consecutive paystubs for all employed adults in your household. At least one of the three paystubs must be dated after the date of the “get ready” letter.

Self-employment: if a member of your household is self-employed, you will be asked to provide tax returns, 1099s, and/or profit and loss statements for the most recent twelve months.

Verification of Other Income and Benefits

Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI): you will be asked to submit all pages of a current original statement of benefits letter or action notice for any source of Social Security pension and/or Supplemental Security Income showing the amount of benefits that you or member of your household are currently receiving. The letter must be dated AFTER the date of the “get ready” letter. To obtain a new letter from the Social Security Administration, call them at 1-800-772-1213 or visit their web site at www.ssa.gov.

Other Benefits: you will be asked to submit all pages of a current original statement of benefits letter or action notice for any type of Cash Aid or Welfare Assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), previously called assistance to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), or CALWORKS, showing all benefits that you or members of your household are currently receiving. The letter must be dated AFTER the date of the “get ready” letter.

Other Documentation: you will be asked to submit documentation of any other income that any member of your household receives.

Verification of Assets

Bank Accounts: you will be asked to submit all pages of a current bank statement for all checking, savings and other types of bank accounts. The statement may be either an original or a copy, but it must include the name of the account holder, the account number, balance and bank name and address. The statements must be dated within 30 days of the date of the “get ready” letter.

Other Assets: for all other assets (such as stocks, bonds, CDs and other assets, you will be asked to provide current original statements from the financial institution. The statements must be dated within 30 days of the date of the “get ready’ letter.

Note: the Housing Authority may independently verify information you submit. There are also sources available to the Housing Authority which may indicate information you have not submitted. If later it is found that you did not fully inform or comply with the application, your voucher could be terminated and you could be responsible for rental subsidy paid on your behalf by the Housing Authority.

It is better to over-declare information than under-declare. Housing Authority staff will advise you if information you have supplied does not apply.

You must respond to all Housing Authority requests for information by the due dates established, or you could lose your housing assistance.

The sooner you submit all requested information to the Housing Authority, the sooner we can complete your recertification and notify you of any changes to your portion of the rent.

Voucher Size Redetermination

Your voucher size will be re-determined at your annual re-examination. Changes in voucher size impact the level of subsidy you receive. Therefore, if your voucher size reduces for any reason, including decreases in your family composition, your portion of the rent could increase substantially.

(Go to top)

Rent Changes

Your share of the rent may change for several reasons: your income or household composition has changed; your landlord is requesting a change in rent or the Housing Authority subsidy standards or Payment Standards have changed.

You will receive a letter that outlines the reasons for any rent changes but depending on the reason, reporting dates or verification delays, the letter advising you of the rent change may require you to be prepared to pay a rent increase retroactively.

You may receive less than thirty days notice regarding the results of your annual re-examination and any change in your portion of the rent. If your income has gone up, your subsidy maybe reduced; if so, you should be prepared to pay more for your share of the rent and put aside funds accordingly.

You can calculate an approximation of what your rent will be by figuring 30% of your household income. Make sure you set this amount aside until you receive the letter giving you the exact amount of your share of the rent.

(Go to top)

Interim Re-Examinations

If the changes you report cause a change in your share of the rent, an Interim Examination will be done. Information required for an Interim Examination is similar to that requested for an Annual Re-examination (see above) but may be more limited in scope. After the Interim Examination is complete, you will receive a rent change notice.

Please see Rent Changes above regarding the timing of the change and the letter notifying you.

Depending on timing and/or the extent of the changes you report, an Interim Re-examination may be changed to an Annual Re-certification.

For more information, please see above or the Reporting Changes Q&A.

(Go to top)

Inspections

The Housing Authority will conduct annual Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections for the home or apartment you are living in with your housing assistance; the check list for the annual HQS inspection is similar to the initial inspection.

For answers to the most common questions about inspections and re-certifications, go here.

Each rental unit must pass annual inspection by the Housing Authority.For more information, see our Inspection Q&A. The Housing Authority inspects to HUD Housing Quality Standards (HQS). See the HQS Inspections Check List.

The landlord may choose to be present for any inspection. If deficiencies are found, the landlord is notified in writing and given a certain time to make repairs. If repairs are not done, the housing assistance cannot continue and you may be required to move. If you are the cause of the deficiency, you can lose your voucher.

(Go to top)

Terminating a Lease

If you wish to move you must check the terms of your lease to ensure that you will not be in violation of the lease terms by moving. You must also give your landlord appropriate notice according to your lease. If you intend to stay in the Section 8 program and use your voucher, you must receive prior approval from the Housing Authority by submitting a Transfer Request Form (see below).

If you violate the terms of your lease the landlord can take any action, up to and including eviction, in accordance with the law and the terms of the lease. You can also lose your voucher if you are evicted for cause.

The landlord can leave the program at the end of any lease term. If you are in good standing with no lease or program violations, you may use your voucher to find another rental.

(Go to top)

Moving Within the Area – Transfers

Moving to a new unit within Santa Cruz County (or city, in the case of Hollister or San Juan Bautista), is called a “transfer.”(If you wish to move out of the area, see below Moving Outside the Area – Portables.) If you move out of your unit without notifying the Housing Authority, your voucher may be canceled.

If your landlord gives you notice to move you must notify the Housing Authority immediately and provide a copy of the notice.

Once you have moved out of your unit with Housing Authority approval, you will have only 60 days to find another approvable rental unit.

If you wish to transfer, you must request approval from the Housing Authority before you move by completing a Transfer Request Form. The Housing Authority will not give approval if you owe the Housing Authority money.

You must be at the end of your lease term (check you lease to determine if you are on a fixed term or month-to-month at the time you wish to move) or have your landlord agree that you can move before the end of your lease.

When you move, your voucher size will be determined according to your household size and current Housing Authority subsidy standards that govern the number of bedrooms allowed. Subsidy standards may have changed and you may be issued a different voucher size when you move.

Once the Housing Authority approves your transfer, you will be sent a “Transfer Packet.” The packet will contain a Request for Tenancy Approval that you will need to give a new landlord. Please go to the Information for New Voucher Holders on this web site for information on finding a new rental and submitting Request for Tenancy Approval.

Once a new rental unit is inspected and approved by the Housing Authority and you have moved, you must promptly return the keys to your old unit to the landlord and get a receipt. In case of a dispute regarding your vacate date, you may need a receipt indicating the date you returned the keys. The Housing Authority will not pay rental subsidy on two units, therefore, you should take the shortest time possible to move out of one unit and into the other once approval is given.

For more information, please see our Transfer Information Bulletin and Transfer Q&A.

(Go to top)

Moving Outside the Area – Portables

Under the Housing Choice Voucher program, families can move with their voucher assistance to another area. This is called “portability” or “porting.”

There are restrictions on when you can port. Before deciding to port, please read the Informational Bulletin on Portability within the Section 8 Program by clicking here.

If you decide to port to another area, you must request permission before you move by completing a Portable Request Form.

On the Portable Request Form, you will identify the area to which you wish to move. The Housing Authority will contact the housing authority in that area and advise them that you wish to “port in.” The new housing authority must confirm it is receiving vouchers before you can port to that locality.

Both your current housing authority and the receiving housing authority must give their approval before you can port.

The housing authority you are moving to will have its own policies and restrictions which may be different from your current housing authority. You will need to contact the new housing authority to find out what restrictions it might have.

The process of transferring documents, gaining approvals and the new housing authority issuing you a voucher can take a long time. You must wait for your approvals before moving or you could lose your voucher.

For more information, please see our Portability Q&A.

(Go to top)

Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program

The FSS program allows families to save money while they pursue their self-sufficiency goals and increase their earned income. For more information, see our Family Self-Sufficiency Q&A.

Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program

If you meet the program requirements, you may have the option of using your Housing Choice Voucher to help purchase a home. For more information, read our HCV Homeownership Q&A and see the HCV section of the Forms page. Also, please visit the Homeownership section of our site for more information about programs for first time homebuyers.

Special Needs

If you are a person with disabilities and you have special needs related to a Housing Authority program, please see the Special Needs Q&A and the Special Needs section of our Forms page.

Program Fraud

The federal government and the Housing Authority take action against those committing program frauds, whether they are Section 8 participants or landlords. The Housing Authority has established a Program Integrity unit specifically to investigate and take action against those who commit program violations. Please go to this web site’s section on Program Fraud for more information or report fraud.

(Go to top)

Informal Hearing Procedures

When you may Request an Informal Hearing

The Housing Authority will give program participants an opportunity to request an informal hearing to consider whether the following determinations are in accordance with law, HUD regulations and/or Housing Authority rules, in the following cases:

  1. The family’s annual or adjusted income, and the use of such income to compute the housing assistance payment.
  2. The appropriate utility allowance (if any) for tenant-paid utilities from the Housing Authority’s utility allowance schedule.
  3. The family unit size under the Housing Authority subsidy standards.
  4. Termination of assistance for a participant family because of the family’s action or failure to act.
  5. Termination of assistance because the participant family has been absent from the assisted unit for longer than the maximum period permitted under Housing Authority policy and HUD rules.

For information regarding how to request an informal hearing, please see the Hearing and Appeals Q&A, included in this packet.

Questions?

For answers to more of your questions, please call the Housing Authority at 831-454-5955.