Boston Housing Authority

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FAQ for Public Housing

Grievances and Appeals

Who should I contact if I have questions about the appeal process or hearing?

All inquiries should be directed to the front desk at the Department of Grievances and Appeals on the 9th floor at 617-988-4579.  Do not attempt to contact the Hearing Officer.

What if I need to reschedule the hearing?

The DGA grants rescheduling requests only for “good cause” (public housing applicant, public housing, and leased housing termination appeals) or “compelling circumstances” (Section 8 applicant appeals)  Some examples are circumstances related to a disability, medical emergencies, medical treatments or important appointments that cannot be rescheduled such as court appearances. Transportation issues or other mere inconveniences will not be considered good cause to reschedule.  You must submit a written request to reschedule as soon as possible but no later than 24 hours prior to your scheduled hearing time. Your must specify the reason(s) that you need to reschedule and submit third-party documentation to verify the need to reschedule. For example, if you cannot attend the hearing because your place of employment will not excuse your absence, you must submit documentation from your employer to verify this.

NOTE: If your request to reschedule an informal applicant hearing is received less than twelve days prior to the hearing date and is approved for rescheduling, your hearing will go to the back of the scheduling queue.

What if I arrive late or miss the hearing?

Tardiness or failure to appear may result in a Default being issued, which would result in the decision of the Occupancy Department/Leased Housing Division being upheld. The hearing will be rescheduled if “good cause” or “compelling circumstances” prevented you from attending on time. This must be verified in writing by a third party. For example, if you miss the hearing due to a medical emergency, you must submit documentation from the medical provider to verify the date and time that you experienced the emergency and received treatment.  Transportation or parking delays/problems will not be considered a compelling circumstance—you should plan your travel time with the expectation that you will be delayed due to traffic congestion, public transportation delays, or inability to quickly find a parking spot. 

If you are late or miss your public housing grievance panel hearing, the Grievance Panel will review your request to reschedule and make a decision as soon as possible.

What if I need an interpreter for the hearing?

You should request an interpreter by filling out the enclosed Interpreter Request Form and returning it to the Department of Grievances and Appeals prior to your hearing date. The BHA will provide an interpreter at no cost to you.  Your family member, friend, or advocate will not be permitted to interpret for you.

Can I bring anyone to the hearing with me?

Yes. You may bring an advocate, attorney, case manager, or any other person you wish to represent you or help you during the hearing. You may also bring any person for “moral support,” such as a friend or family member. If you cannot arrange for child care, you may bring your child(ren). However, be aware that children will be expected to remain quiet during the hearing and that matters discussed during the hearing may not be appropriate for all children to hear.

What if my disability would prevent me from coming to the hearing or fully participating in the hearing?

If your disability would prevent or impede your ability to physically attend the hearing, or if your disability would prevent or impede your participation in the hearing, you have the right to request a Reasonable Accommodation. You must request a Reasonable Accommodation in writing, specifying the reason(s) you need an accommodation and what accommodation you are seeking. You may deliver this request to the Department of Grievances and Appeals at any time prior to your hearing. The BHA may contact you to request additional information.

What will the Grievance Panel hearing be like?

The hearing will take place in a conference room. In addition to you and your witnesses or representatives, your Housing Manager and/or one or more representatives of the BHA’s Occupancy Department will be present. The hearing will be presided over by the Grievance Panel. The Panel members assigned to your hearing are listed on the hearing notice.  During the hearing, the Housing Manager and/or Occupancy Department representative(s) will present the BHA’s case. Specifically, the BHA will state the reason(s) for its action (i.e, why your transfer/residual tenancy request was denied, why you are being evicted, or how your rent was calculated) and present all supporting documents and witnesses. You will also have a full opportunity to explain why you disagree with the BHA’s action and present your own documents and witnesses. The BHA’s representative(s) and the Panel will likely ask you questions and you may also ask any questions that you have. Although you will be granted a full opportunity to present your case, be aware that disruptive or disorderly behavior will not be permitted and may result in the termination of the hearing, which could then result in the decision you are appealing being upheld.


What if my disability relates to the reason(s) for the Grievance Panel hearing?

If you have a disability that relates to the reason(s) you are seeking a transfer or residual tenancy or the reason(s) the BHA is seeking to evict you, you have the right to request a Reasonable Accommodation. You must request a Reasonable Accommodation in writing, specifying the reason(s) you need an accommodation and what accommodation you are seeking. You may deliver this request to the Department of Grievances and Appeals at any time prior to your hearing or during your hearing. The BHA may contact you to request additional information.

When will a Grievance Panel hearing decision be made and who decides?

After the hearing, the Panel will review all documents submitted, the testimony of any witnesses, and all statements made during the hearing before taking a vote and issuing its decision. You will receive a copy of the Panel’s decision in the mail within 5-10 days of the hearing. If the decision was not in your favor, you may request an appeal within 10 business days.

What should I bring with me to the Grievance Panel or Grievance Appeal hearing?

You should bring any documents that relate to the reason for the hearing (i.e., eviction, transfer, rent determination, or residual tenancy).  You may also bring any other supporting documentation, such as letters of recommendation or documentation relating to your disability, and witnesses who are able to provide relevant information.


What will the Grievance Appeal hearing be like?

The hearing will take place in an office or conference room.  In addition to you and your witnesses or representatives, your Housing Manager and/or one or more representatives of the BHA’s Occupancy Department will be present.  The hearing will be presided over by a Hearing Officer.  During the hearing, the Housing Manager and/or Occupancy Department representative(s) will present the BHA’s case.  Specifically, the BHA will state the reason(s) for its action (i.e, why your transfer/residual tenancy request was denied, why you are being evicted, or how your rent was calculated) and present all supporting documents and witnesses.  You will also have a full opportunity to explain why you disagree with the BHA’s action and present your own documents and witnesses.  The BHA’s representative(s) and the Hearing Officer will likely ask you questions and you may also ask any questions that you have.  Although you will be granted a full opportunity to present your case, be aware that disruptive or disorderly behavior will not be permitted and may result in the termination of the hearing, which could then result in the Grievance Panel’s decision being upheld.  If there are any documents or witnesses that were not available for the hearing, the Hearing Officer may grant an extension for submission of additional documents or decide to continue the hearing on a future date.  If this occurs, you will be given detailed information during the hearing about how you should proceed.


When will a Grievance Appeal decision be made and who decides?

After the hearing and the conclusion of any extension period, the Hearing Officer will review all documents submitted, the testimony of any witnesses, and all statements made during the hearing.  The Hearing Officer will also review all applicable BHA policies and Federal and/or Massachusetts regulations to determine whether to uphold or reverse the Grievance Panel’s decision.  A written decision should be mailed within 3 weeks of the hearing date or conclusion of the extension period.  After a decision is made, do not attempt to contact the Hearing Officer—you will not be permitted to speak with him/her.   Any inquiries should be directed to your Housing Manager or to the Department of Grievances and Appeals front desk at 617-988-4579.

Housing Options & Eligibility

Who is eligible for Family Public Housing?

Anyone may apply for family public housing. However, certain income limits, the BHA Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) and either state or federal regulations govern those who are determined eligible for this housing program.

Who is eligible for Elderly/Disabled Public Housing?

State funded developments require applicants to be 60 or older and/or disabled. Federal developments require applicants to be 62 or older and/or disabled. Those who need more than 2 bedrooms, as defined by BHA regulations and state occupancy laws, cannot apply for the elderly/disabled housing program. There are also income limits for all developments. The BHA Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) and either state or federal regulations govern who eligible for this housing program.

Who is eligible for the Grandparents Housing Program?

Those age 60 and older and/or disabled with legal custody of 1 or 2 grandchildren of the same gender are eligible to apply for the BHA's Grandparents Housing Program. The apartments, 12 two-bedroom townhouses and 3 single-level units, are located at BHA’s Franklin Field development in Dorchester. One unit is wheelchair-accessible. BHA residents and applicants are welcome to apply. Applicants must be income eligible for the state-assisted housing program. The BHA Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) and either state or federal regulations govern those who are eligible for this housing program.

If you are not a BHA resident or your name is not currently on a BHA public housing waiting list, you are required to fill out the preliminary application and submit it with the Grandparents Housing form. BHA residents must complete the form and a transfer request with management. Applicants for the Grandparents Housing Program should apply for the elderly/disabled public housing and include this form.

What happens if I reject the apartment?

Failure to accept the housing offer to a unit of appropriate size and type will result in the withdrawal from all public housing waiting lists and the applicant will lose any approved Priority and/or Preference(s). Furthermore, the applicant will only be eligible to re-apply for the same Priority/Preference after one year from the date of the most recent apartment assignment rejection. During the 1-year period after an applicant is removed from all waiting lists, BHA will only consider them for Priority and/or Preference status when an applicant experiences a change in circumstances which justify a different Priority/Preference. An applicant who is removed from all waiting lists due to apartment offer rejection may therefore apply for another Priority of different, equal or higher point value or the same Priority due to different underlying circumstances.

BHA will recognize the new Priority and/or Preference status after verification and place the applicant on a waiting list using the new status and the date of the new application. Standard applicants or Non-Priority applicants who fail to accept the housing offer of a unit of appropriate size and type will result in the withdrawal for the particular development. The applicant may receive another housing offer when he/she reaches the top of the waiting list for another development of choice he has been determined eligible.

Moving In

Should I take this apartment as is?

The BHA is required to lease-up apartments that are within the state’s sanitary codes. If the apartment is not ready, contact your housing manager right away.

What is the move-in process?

Read more about the move in process for public housing, including maintenance and insurance information.

Who is responsible for my moving cost?

The BHA resident is responsible for all initial or transfer moving expenses, except those required by capital improvement programs.

Paying Rent

How is rent set for public housing?

In family state public housing, rent is set at 32% of adjusted income. Rent is set at 30% of adjusted income in elderly/disabled state public housing. In federal public housing, rent is set at 30% of adjusted income (or 10% of total income, if this is higher). Both state and federal public housing have certain exclusions and deductions that are used to determine the adjsted income, but the deductions are not the same for all programs.

Click here to learn more about public housing rent policies.

How much notice do I get of a rent increase? Are there exceptions to this?

In most cases, BHA must give you at least 30 days advance written notice of a rent increase.  For example, a notice that you receive on March 15 should take effect no earlier than May 1.  However, BHA isn’t required to give such advance notice if you are late in getting your annual recertification done, but can make the change effective on your anniversary date.  If you didn’t accurately report your income, and BHA determines that your rent should have been higher, BHA can make the rent increase retroactive.

I was working more hours than usual due to the holidays, and BHA used that pay to set my rent for next year. I don’t think that’s right. What can I do?

BHA calculates rent by anticipated income, and may average from the most recent five pay stubs.  However, if you have evidence from your employer that your recent hours are not a fair estimate of what your work hours will be like for the next 12 months, bring that to BHA.


My hours go up and down all the time and I work on call. What should I do?

This can be very frustrating for you and BHA, but you do have the right to request an adjustment each time it appears the figures aren’t right.  Maybe you can request that BHA calculate your income based on last year’s tax return or records; however, sometimes relying on that may result in you paying more rent than you should.

I work for the schools, and only work 10 months of the year. What are the options?

BHA could take the 10 months’ income and stretch it over 12 months.  This means that your rent for 10 months of the year is slightly lower than it would otherwise be, but that you must save up enough money to cover the two months rent when you are not working.  Alternatively, you and BHA could discuss setting it at the higher per month rate for 10 months and at zero for 2 months.

I’m not getting child support like I should, but my property manager said they have to go by what the court order says, even if I’m not getting it. Help!

HUD/DHCD may require that you show you’re trying to collect the child support, but if you’re doing that and for the moment you’re stuck, BHA should calculate your income based on the payment records of the Department of Revenue’s Child Support Enforcement office.

What happens if I or one of my household members gets sent to a nursing home or hospital—how do I adjust my rent?

If the issue here is that you or the household member can’t get to the BHA to submit recertification paperwork, you can ask BHA for a “reasonable accommodation” based on disability.  BHA will ask for medical verifications and can then figure out other ways to complete the process (such as by involving a third party, holding a telephonic conference, etc.).  If the issue is longer term –for example, it’s not clear what’s happening with income (is SSI being assigned to the nursing home) or if the person is coming back—this will require more of a case by case discussion.

Why did my rent go up, but my income didn’t change?

There can be different answers for this.  Most commonly there are small changes in cost of living allowances (for Social Security, for example) that will result in a higher rent, even though the tenant feels like rent didn’t change.  There may be changes in deductions—a child is no longer under 18, or the medical expenses or child care costs were lower than last year.  You may have been using the earned income disregard and it’s run out, so now the increase in income from employment is no longer disregarded.

I was cut off welfare and asked BHA to decrease my rent because of this, but they said no. Is this right?

It may be— it depends on what kind of housing you live in and what the facts were.  In federal public housing and the Section 8 voucher program (but not state public housing); there is a law that says that if your TAFDC benefits were reduced because you didn’t cooperate with self-sufficiency requirements (looking for work or participating in community service) or due to fraud, housing authorities are not supposed to decrease your rent.  However, if your TAFDC was reduced or cut off for other reasons (such as missing a certification appointment or because you hit the time limit on benefits), this rule does not apply.  It’s important that BHA get the information from DTA regarding why your benefits were reduced. 

I want to dispute what BHA did with my rent. What can I do?

You have the right to use the BHA Grievance Procedure to dispute your rent amount. You should look at the written notice of rent change to see what factors BHA used in setting your rent (for example, was there any mistake in counting the income or in the deductions)?  You can ask for a meeting with the manager to discuss the rent; sometimes this will fix the problem.  Grievances should be in writing and filed within 30 days of BHA’s action (or failure to act.)

Preferences & Priorities

What is the Designated Housing Plan?
The Designated Housing Plan provides the basis for the allocation of housing units in the Federal Elderly/Disabled Housing Program portfolio. The units are allocated to applicants in a manner that allows movement toward a resident population that is 80% elderly (62 years old or older) and 20% non-elderly disabled (under 62 years of age) in each development.  Developments are termed “Elderly designated” if the elderly resident population is less than 80%.   In “Elderly designated” developments elderly applicants receive extra points to improve their waiting list position.  This will result, over time, in an increased elderly resident population until we reach the 80% goal.  

The Plan was developed in accordance with Section 10a of the “Housing Opportunity Program Extension Act of 1996” and with HUD Notice PIH 97-12 issued March 12, 1997 and HUD Notice PIH 2005-2 issued January 5, 2005.  Many discussions were held with residents and advocates prior to submitting a draft of the new Plan.  The Boston Housing Authority’s new Designated Housing Plan was approved on June 25, 2015. 
How does a development become "Designated"?
Federal developments in the Elderly/Disabled Program with fewer than 80% elderly residents are identified on a regular basis, by the Boston Housing Authority's MIS Department. These developments become “Elderly” designated. Applicants for Elderly/Disabled developments can adjust their waiting list choices at any time. The developments become “Elderly” designated when the site is occupied by less than the 80% elderly (62 years of age or older) ratio. This ratio changes as residents move-in and/or vacate each site. In accordance with the approved Plan, the population occupying wheelchair accessible units will not be included when determining the designations.
Is the Designated Housing Plan used to allocate units in all developments?
No.  It is not used in developments in the Family Housing Program.  The 80% elderly to 20% non-elderly disabled allocation is used only in the Federal Elderly/Disabled Program developments.  In Federal Elderly/Disabled developments where the elderly resident population is less than 80%, the development is “Elderly” designated.  In such an “Elderly” designated development, elderly applicants are awarded points to improve their waiting list positions.  In developments where the elderly resident population is 80% or more, no extra Designated Housing Plan points are awarded to the elderly. If the developments are under 20% non-elderly disabled populated, the development will be “Non-Elderly Disabled” designated and the non-elderly applicants including non-elderly disabled transfer applicants will be awarded “Non-Elderly Disabled” designated preference points. Applicants and Transfer Applicants requiring a wheelchair accessible unit will not be awarded “designation” preference points.   In state-aided Elderly/Disabled developments non-elderly disabled residents are limited to 13.5% of the total development population.
What is the procedure for the allocation of vacant units to applicants under the Designated Housing Plan?
The Boston Housing Authority Elderly/Disabled Program maintains a HUD-approved site based waiting list system. Every Elderly/Disabled development has separate waiting lists for studio/1 bedroom units and for a very few existing 2 bedroom units.  These lists are ranked by Priority and/or Preference points and date of application. Applicants receive points if qualified for Priority (such as lacking housing due to fire, domestic violence, eviction, etc.) and/or Preferences (such as being a Veteran, a resident of Boston, etc.).  In addition, elderly applicants (age 62 or older) on a waiting list for an “Elderly designated" development receive extra points as a result of the Designated Housing Plan.  This has the effect of moving them above non-elderly disabled applicants who share the same date of application. Non-elderly disabled applicants (under 62 years of age) on a waiting list for a “Non-Elderly Disabled designated” development receive extra points as a result of the Designated Housing Plan.  This has the effect of moving them above elderly applicants who share the same date of application.
 
Unit vacancies are allocated, as they occur, to the screened and approved applicant who holds the oldest application date and highest ranked position on the appropriate waiting list. In that instance, the appropriate unit type and bedroom size required will be assigned. 
 
The Boston Housing Authority also has units under its Supported Housing Programs. Persons seeking housing under these programs apply through the providers for those programs. The providers submit the applications to the Occupancy Department so they may be screened for the specific Supported Housing program.  These units are mainly for persons with disabilities who require supportive services as well as shelter.  
What options are available to Non-Elderly Disabled Applicants waiting on an “Elderly” Designated Development waiting list?
Applicants on any Elderly/Disabled Development waiting list can opt to wait for other developments by adjusting their own development choices. For example, non-elderly disabled applicants can choose to be on a list at a development where the “Elderly” Designated Housing Plan does not provide extra designated points to the elderly, i.e. where the elderly resident population is 80% or higher, or can select Family Developments.

When non-elderly disabled applicants who are waiting on an “Elderly” designated list become 62 years old, they will be considered an elderly applicant and will receive additional points, thus improving their waiting list ranking and they will lose the “Non-Elderly Disabled” designated awarded points for the waiting lists under 20% non-elderly disabled populated. The non-elderly disabled applicants who qualify for a priority one status may also elect to apply for the BHA’s Section 8 Housing Choice Project-Based Voucher and Moderate Rehabilitation waiting lists of choice. The non-elderly disabled applicants may also be eligible to apply for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher from a special set-aside created by the Plan if they are bypassed consistent with the applicant selection rules implementing the HUD-approved Plan. The BHA will notify in writing any non-elderly disabled applicants who are bypassed when they become eligible to apply for the special-purpose Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. Only households that complete the Section 8 Tenant-Based Voucher application may be issued a voucher from the set-aside.  

In order to reduce the concentrations of non-elderly disabled residents in “Elderly designated” developments, and to accommodate the desire of some of the younger disabled residents to live in a more mixed environment, transfers to the Family Program are available. Non-elderly disabled residents who reside in Elderly/Disabled developments will receive Emergency Transfer status if they choose to move to a unit in the Family Program.  In addition, elderly (62 years of age or older) residents who reside in Family developments and want to transfer to Elderly/Disabled developments 

Reasonable Accommodation

Who Qualifies for a Reasonable Accommodation?

In order to qualify for a reasonable accommodation, a Client must be an “otherwise qualified individual with a disability.” 

What is considered to be a disability?

Under state and federal law, a disability is a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

What are some examples of mental or physical impairments?

Examples of mental or physical impairments include, but are not limited to,  diseases and conditions including: orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection, mental retardation, emotional illness, drug addiction (other than addiction caused by current, illegal use of a controlled substance) and alcoholism. 

What are “major life activities”?

Examples of major life activities include, but are not limited to, the ability to walk, see, hear, breathe, think, read, or care for oneself.

What does “otherwise qualified” mean?

An “otherwise qualified” individual with a disability is a person with a disability who is able to meet essential BHA program eligibility and requirements with or without a reasonable accommodation.
 
For example, if a Client is having difficulty complying with his or her program obligations, and it’s due to a disability, the Client may request that the BHA take the disability into consideration and work with the Client to find an arrangement that allows him or her to comply. 

Does the requested accommodation need to be related to the disability?

Yes.  There is a requirement that the requested accommodation may be necessary to provide you with an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the BHA’s housing and programs. This relationship between the disability and accommodation is referred to as a “nexus.”

Does BHA always have the right to ask for verification of my disability and needs?

Not always, but the BHA does have the right to request information if it:

  • Is necessary to verify that the Client meets the definition of a person with a disability;
  • Describes the needed accommodation; and
  • Shows the relationship between the person’s disability and the need for the requested accommodation. 
Can the forms still help me even if my disability and needs are apparent?

Yes. The forms, particularly the Certification of Need, provide questions that may remind you or your medical professional or qualified service provider of additional needs that the BHA might be able to address. 

Where can I get the forms other than on this website?

You may pick up the forms at:

  • The John F. Murphy Housing Service Center at 56 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111
  • The Public Housing developments’ management offices.
  • The Occupancy Department at 52 Chauncy Street, Floor 3, Boston, MA 02111
  • The Leased Housing Department at 52 Chauncy Streets, Floor 4 or 5, Boston, MA 02111
  • The BHA Office of Civil Rights at 52 Chauncy Street, Floor 9, Boston, MA 02111

To request a form by mail, call the Office of Civil Rights’ Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator at 617-988-4377 (TDD: 800-545-1833 x420).

If you need assistance or an accommodation (for example, a screen reader or sign language interpreter) to complete the forms, contact the Office of Civil Rights’ Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator at 617-988-4377 (TDD: 800-545-1833 x420).

When are Requests for Reasonable Accommodations Granted?

In general, BHA must grant an accommodation unless the Client requesting it is not an otherwise-qualified individual with a disability, there is no nexus, or the request is not reasonable.

When is a request not reasonable?

A request is not reasonable if it would result in an undue financial or administrative burden for the BHA or it would create a fundamental alteration in a BHA program. 

Examples of reasonable requests:

In the Public Housing program, it might be reasonable to lower the cabinets for someone in a wheelchair, put grab bars in the bathroom for someone with a mobility impairment, or put in a flashing fire alarm for someone who has a hearing impairment.  It might also be reasonable to allow a person with a mental disability to have rent payments made by a third party.
 
In a Leased Housing program, it might be reasonable to increase a participant’s voucher amount so that he or she might find a home that meets his or her needs.  It also might be reasonable to increase a voucher’s bedroom size to allow a live-in personal care assistant to live with the participant.
 
Examples of unreasonable requests:

It would not be reasonable for the BHA to prevent children from using a development playground because the noise bothers a person with a disability or to have the BHA pay for a Client’s personal care attendant or personal medical devices.

How does the BHA address Reasonable Accommodation Requests?

Under disability law, the BHA must engage in an interactive process with you while reviewing your request.  This means that the BHA will work with you in a cooperative way to try to find a resolution to your needs.
 
Once enough information is available, the appropriate BHA staff person for your program will review and decide upon your request.  If additional information is needed to make a decision, you will receive a written request.  You should be careful to follow any deadlines in the letter.

You may request a meeting to discuss your request.

As part of the interactive process, either you or BHA staff may request a meeting to discuss the requested accommodation. Any meeting will be held at a location that is accessible to you. You may have a friend or advocate with you at the meeting. You may also request an accommodation for the meeting. 

When will I receive a decision on my Reasonable Accommodation request?

The BHA will issue a written decision thirty (30) days from either the date of the request, or the date all the necessary information is received. Whether your request is approved or denied, you will be notified in writing.

How is my Reasonable Accommodation request reviewed in the context of other requests?

The BHA considers each request for reasonable accommodation as a separate request. Just because one person had a change approved or denied in the past does not mean that all requests for that type of change will be approved or denied. The decision will be made on a case-by-case basis with the understanding that each person’s needs and circumstances are unique.

Does the BHA have to grant me the specific Reasonable Accommodation I have requested?

No. If your request is not reasonable, the BHA will propose an accommodation that tries to meet your needs as effectively as possible.
 
Also, if your request is reasonable, but there is a less burdensome but equally effective accommodation available, the BHA may offer you that accommodation instead.

What If I Disagree with the BHA's Reasonable Accommodation Decision?

Appeal rights

If the BHA denies your request or approves it, but you disagree with the way in which it was approved, you may submit a written request for an appeal with the Department of Grievances and Appeals within twenty (20) days of the date of denial.

Remedies available besides appealing a decision

If at any time you think your request is not being processed appropriately, you have the right to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights or call the 24-Hour Civil Rights Hotline at 617-695-3531.
 
In addition, you have a right to seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.  View their contact information

Resident Advisory Board

What is a Resident Advisory Board (RAB)?

The Resident Advisory Board was established in response to the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998.  The Resident Advisory Board consists of public housing and Section 8 residents who advise the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) and make recommendations regarding development of the Agency Plan.

Who are RAB members?

The RAB is made up of public housing residents and Section 8 voucher holders.  The members are elected to serve a two year term on the Resident Advisory Board by their peers. The current term is 2012-2014.

How do RABs help or assist public housing residents and Section 8 voucher holders?

Through a series of regular meetings, the Boston Housing Authority reviews policy, practices and program goals with the Resident Advisory Board and documents members' comments and recommendations.  Comments from the RAB regarding Boston Housing Authority policy changes are made in the best interest for residents and other stakeholders.


What is the role of RAB?

The role of the RAB is to assist and make recommendations regarding the development of the Public Housing Authority (PHA) Plan and any significant amendments or modifications to it.

Who can participate on the RAB?

Under the bylaws that the BHA RAB has developed, there are RAB elections every two years to select who will serve on the RAB.  The last election was in the summer of 2012.  For public housing, ballots are cast by representatives of BHA’s recognized local tenant organizations (LTOs), and they chose 10 members from BHA elderly/disabled public housing and 10 members from BHA family public housing.  Up to 10 alternates can also be chosen from each of these groups.  Tenants don’t have to be from a development that has an LTO to be nominated or elected.  For Section 8, ballots are cast by all BHA Section 8 tenants who attend the election, and 10 members and up to 10 alternates who are in BHA’s Section 8 program are elected.  If there are vacancies in between elections, the RAB decides how the vacancies will be filled.

What can you and your Local Tenant Organization do to assist RAB?

The BHA is required to convene a public hearing to discuss their five-year and/or Annual Plan and to get comments from the public regarding their proposed activities. BHA must consider, in consultation with the RAB, all the comments received at the public hearing.  The Public Notice and Comment Period provides residents with an opportunity to voice their concerns so that their needs are addressed and they can become involved in the planning process.  The BHA also gains essential information from the residents about the improvements that need to be made at the agency’s developments. This information helps the BHA to set priorities for capital improvements and advises resident services programming. The partnership between the RAB, local tenant organizations, residents and the BHA is of benefit to ALL parties. Please join us at the public hearing and bring your comments regarding the plan that will affect you.

How do I contact RAB to find out more information about RAB?

See the attached flyer with information.

Resident Information Questions

How do I report any changes to my income or family?

For information about adding a household member, adding a Personal Care Attendant, or other changes, contact your housing manager.

Can I transfer from one development to another?
Your housing manager can clarify the various transfer guidelines. Some reasons that the BHA may deem appropriate for a transfer include: overcrowding, having an apartment that is too large for your family, needs for special accommodation that may not be provided at the current unit, for the household’s safety due domestic violence or other safety circumstances. You must fully document your need for a transfer and complete a transfer application with your Housing Manager.

If you are over housed or under housed, you may get a transfer. You may elect on-site transfer and/or select other BHA public housing developments of choice. If you elect other BHA developments, your entire household will be fully screened including criminal records before a housing offer can be made. If you are over housed by two or more bedrooms, the BHA will initiate an Administrative Transfer.
Can I transfer from a BHA development to a Section 8 program or vice versa?
Under certain BHA public housing emergency transfer circumstances and due to redevelopment or capital improvement programs, some residents may be referred and placed on waiting lists for the Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 programs (Tenant-Based, Project-Based, and/or Moderate Rehabilitation). The BHA public housing residents who are placed on any Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 waiting list must successfully complete a final eligibility screening process when they reach the top of these waiting lists due to different program eligibility requirements.

The only BHA Section 8 participants who are eligible to apply for a transfer to the BHA public housing program and only under certain circumstances are the Lower Mills and Heritage Project-Based participants who resided at there when these sites were converted from public housing to section 8 funded properties.
What happens if I can’t get a day off from work to attend my annual recertification meeting?

Speak with your manager to see if any special arrangements can be made.  In  many instances, you can provide BHA with the documents needed to verify your income.  However, your signature needs to be included on certain forms, and BHA staff will want to confer with you when you sign the form to be sure  that you know what you are signing. 

I had an emergency and was in the hospital and unable to contact my manager. Now I owe back rent. How do I handle this and prevent getting evicted?

You should speak to the manager as soon as possible, explain what happened, and try to work out payment arrangements.  If the manager has sent you a notice to attend a private conference because of your non-payment, go to the conference.  If the conference isn’t at a convenient time, ask for it to be rescheduled.

Transfers

What if my circumstance changes after I apply?

If your situation, including changes to family composition, changes after you submit your transfer request you should immediately report the change to the Transfer Process Coordinator.  

If you are a victim of additional incidents in the case of domestic violence, civil rights problems or other threatening situations, you should contact the police at 9-1-1. You should also contact your housing manager or the Office of Civil Rights.

What if I refuse the transfer?

If you reject a transfer offer without Good Cause and/or reasonable accommodation mitigation, you cannot apply for the same transfer type for one year from the date of the rejection. You will be informed of the right to appeal any negative decision. 

Transferring within a development vs. transferring to another development

If the transfer is to a different development, the resident will be an “Internal Applicant.” Internal applicants must successfully complete the final eligibility screening process. This process checks the criminal record for all household members ages 14 and older.

What is “Good Cause”?

This is when the resident documents "clear evidence that acceptance of a given offer will result in unusual or undue hardship or handicap” (for example, night shift employment and inaccessibility to public transportation). 
 
Documenting Good Cause must occur as part of your transfer application. BHA looks very carefully at Good Cause requests and the Transfer Review Committee may agree to a transfer but may not agree to Good Cause status. 

Are there any transfer requirements in the BHA Lease?

Yes, residents who are over- or under-housed or residing in a wheelchair accessible unit and do not require these features will be subject to legal action for rejecting a housing offer of a unit of appropriate size and type. In addition, over-housed residents in the state-aided developments are required to move, and will be required to pay 150% of their monthly rent if they reject a housing offer to a unit of appropriate size and type.

Are there any transfer requirements in the BHA Lease?

Yes, residents who are over- or under-housed or residing in a wheelchair accessible unit and do not require these features will be subject to legal action for rejecting a housing offer of a unit of appropriate size and type. In addition, over-housed residents in the state-aided developments are required to move, and will be required to pay 150% of their monthly rent if they reject a housing offer to a unit of appropriate size and type.