5.1 Number of Vouchers Issued
At its discretion, the BHA will consider the Annual Contributions Contract (“ACC”) commitment, funding availability, leasing schedule, turnover rate, historical leasing success rates, and similar factors to determine how many Vouchers should be issued.
5.2 Threshold Eligibility Requirements (Sections 5.2.1- 5.2.3)
The Applicant will be denied assistance and withdrawn from the waiting list based on information on the preliminary application if the Applicant does not meet all of the following requirements. In determining final eligibility, the BHA will consider Mitigating Circumstances including, but not limited to, being the victim of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking, and any request for a Reasonable Accommodation on account of a Disability. To remain on the waiting list, the Applicant must be:
5.2.1 A Family as defined by the BHA
(a) Definition of a Family
(1) Two or more persons regularly living together, related by blood, marriage, adoption, guardianship or operation of law; or who are not so related, but share income and resources and intend to live together;
(2) This definition includes single persons.
(3) Other persons, including foster children, Personal Care Attendants (“PCA”), and members temporarily absent (including children temporarily assigned to foster care), may be considered a part of the household if they are living or will live regularly with the Household.
5.2.2 Income eligible as defined by HUD
Persons meeting BHA income qualifications are those whose Annual Income at the time of Admission, does not exceed the income limits for occupancy established by the HUD. Income limits are posted separately in BHA offices (see sections 5.5 – 5.6). These income limits do not apply to families who are Continuously Assisted. See also section 5.5.1 for further explanation of income eligibility.
5.2.3 Past Balances Due to any Publicly Assisted Housing Program
The Applicant must not owe uncollected rent and/or miscellaneous charges, such as court costs, constable fees, or other related fees arising during the Applicant’s receipt of benefits from any program administered by the BHA or Other Publicly Assisted Housing Program.
(a) The BHA will check for debts owed upon receipt of the Preliminary Application. An Applicant who applies owing a balance consisting of uncollected rent, overpaid Housing Assistance Payments and/or miscellaneous charges (for any program administered by the BHA or Other Publicly Assisted Housing Programs) will be entered into the BHA database as Preliminarly Eligible and the Applicant shall be notified in writing regarding the outstanding debt. The debt must be paid in full prior to determination of final eligibility
(b) The BHA will have the discretion to enter into an agreement for past due balances in the case of a transfer or relocation of BHA public housing resident.
5.3 Eligibility Interview (Final Eligibility)
The purpose of the eligibility interview is to determine the Applicant’s anticipated gross income, Family Composition, and appropriate Voucher Unit Size, Immigration status, Criminal Offender Record Information, and verify Priority and Preference status. The same standards to determine the Applicant’s income and Family Composition in the initial eligibility interview will be used to determine the Participant’s income and Family Composition for any subsequent eligibility determination or Recertification. (See Chapter 8: Renewal).
5.3.2 Scheduling Eligibility Interview Appointment
The Applicant must attend the eligibility interview and bring the requested information to the BHA.
(a) Letter of Interest. The BHA will send a letter to an Applicant selected from the waiting list. The letter will tell the Applicant to contact the BHA and schedule a date and time for an eligibility interview with the BHA. The letter also informs the Applicant of the verified information that must be provided to the BHA in order to determine eligibility.
(b) Failure to respond to the Letter of Interest. The BHA will send a letter of withdrawal (see section 3.2.5(c)) to an Applicant who does not respond to the letter of interest. If the Applicant responds to the Withdrawal letter within 10 days after failing to respond to the initial letter of interest, the BHA will schedule a final eligibility interview with the Participant. Failure to attend the final eligibility interview will result in being withdrawn from the waiting list (see section 3.2.5(c)).
(c) Failure to Attend the Eligibility Interview. If the Applicant schedules an eligibility interview and misses the interview without contacting the BHA, the BHA will send the Applicant a letter of withdrawal. If the Applicant notifies the BHA in advance of the need to reschedule the appointment or contacts the BHA within 10 days of the missed appointment, the BHA will reschedule. The rescheduled eligibility interview will be considered a second and final appointment. If the Applicant misses the second and final interview, the Applicant will be sent a letter of withdrawal. (see section 3.2.3(c)).
(d) Deadline to supply documents. If the Applicant does not supply all the necessary documentation at the eligibility interview, the BHA will give the Applicant up to twenty (20) days to supply all documentation to the BHA. The BHA may grant an Applicant a ten (10) day extension for good cause to supply information to the BHA. If the Applicant fails to meet the deadline to supply documents, they will be withdrawn from all waiting lists (see section 3.2.5).
(e) Reasonable Accommodation. If the Applicant fails to Respond to the Letter of Interest, fails to attend the eligibility interview, or fails to supply information to the BHA, and the failure is due to Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking or a documented Disability, the BHA may decide not to withdraw the Applicant from the waiting list (see also RARAPP).
5.3.3 Reassignment of Applicant to Different Priority Category
An Applicant will be placed in a different Priority category if the BHA determines:
(a) the Applicant’s Priority status is incorrect at the time of the eligibility interview, and
(b) the Applicant is eligible for another Priority and the waiting list is open for that Priority
If, at the time of the eligibility interview, the Applicant is not eligible for any Priority category for which the waiting list is open and the waiting list is not open for standard Applicants, the Applicant will be withdrawn from the waiting list.
If the Applicant is eligible for a new Priority status and the waiting list is open for that Priority, the Applicant will be placed on the waiting list according to the date of the eligibility interview and not the date of the original application.
5.3.4 Misrepresentation of Information or Fraud
The BHA considers falsification, misrepresentation, or failure to disclose information related to Admission, initial eligibility, participation, or Recertification grounds for denying Admission to or terminating assistance from the HCVP. If the BHA determines that the Applicant has acted as described above, the Applicant will be precluded from re-applying for assistance with the BHA for three years from the date of the determination.
5.3.5 Limitation on Number of Eligibility Determinations
For each Applicant, the BHA shall only be required to determine Section 8 eligibility once every twelve (12) months unless the Applicant was denied for one or more of the following reasons:
(a) Lack of citizenship status;
(b) Past due balance owed to a publicly assisted housing program;
(c) Lack of priority status;
(d) Family income exceeds the applicable limits;
(e) Reasons directly related to substance abuse and the Applicant has now successfully completed a rehabilitation program;
(f) As a reasonable accommodation.
5.4 Family Composition
The BHA will verify Family Composition at the eligibility interview and at any interim or annual Recertification appointment.
5.4.1 Verification of Family Composition
The BHA must obtain the following information for all Applicants as applicable:
(a) Photo Identification for the Head of Household and the Co-Head of Household. One of the following forms of photo identification for the Head of Household and the Co-Head of Household only:
(1) Driver’s License;
(2) Registry of Motor Vehicles picture ID;
(4) Student or Employer ID; or
(5) Other Photo ID acceptable to the BHA.
(b) Proof of Birth. One of the following proof-of-birth documents (shown in order of preference) for all Applicant Family members:
(1) Original and copies of Birth certificates;
(3) Original INS documents for eligible Non-Citizens;
(4) Other records deemed appropriate by BHA (DDG214, Statement from Social Security Administration, Original Baptismal Records); or
(5) A medical letter documenting pregnancy as well as anticipated date of birth will be required for all unborn children listed on the application.
(c) Proof of Relationships. One of the following proof-of-relationship documents for all Minor children or situations involving the care of adults under guardianship:
(1) Birth certificates;
(2) Court records of adoption;
(3) Court records of guardianship; or
(4) Other written documentation such as written designation from the Minor Child’s parent.
(d) Social Security Numbers. One of the following documents may be accepted to verify Social Security Numbers (SSN):
(1) Original Social Security Card;
(2) Original Report from the Social Security Administration documenting the availability/non-assignment of a SSN (BHA will make a copy for the file); or
(3) A written statement from the Social Security Administration documenting the assigned SSN.
Family members under the age of six (6) years old do not need to provide a SSN.
No SSN or verification needs to be provided for individuals who certify that they have not been assigned a SSN. However, proof must be provided to show that no SSN was assigned.
(e) Status as an Elderly Person. The BHA will accept Proof of Birth (see subsection (b) above) of the Head and/or Co-Head of Household indicating an age of 62 years or older to verify that person’s status as an Elderly Person.
(f) Status as a Disabled Person. In general, the BHA shall not inquire as to the existence or nature of a disability, or ask for information related to a disability or the medical history of an Applicant or a Participant. However, the BHA can require verification where it is claimed that a Family member is a Disabled Person for two purposes:
(1) For the purpose of applying for Admissions Preferences and Priorities (see section 3.3.6); and
(2) For the purpose of calculating Household income and rent.
In addition, when an Applicant or Participant requests a Reasonable Accommodation on account of a disability, the BHA may require documentation as to the disability and the need to be served by an accommodation or modification. An Applicant or Participant may choose not to disclose the fact of a disability and request an accommodation; however, in this case, the BHA is not obligated to provide any such accommodation.
The following documentation will be accepted for purposes of verifying the status of a Family member as a Disabled Person:
(1) Evidence that the Applicant or Participant’s sole source of income is SSI benefits, SSDI benefits or disability retirement income (see income verification below); or
(1) A certification from a Qualified Health Care Provider verifying that the Applicant or Participant meets the criteria of a Disabled Person for the Federal Housing Program (see Definitions for eligibility of Disabled Persons).
5.4.2 Determining Family Unit Size (BHA Subsidy Standards)
The following BHA Subsidy Standards have been established to determine the number of bedrooms needed for Families of different sizes and compositions. For each Family the BHA will determine the appropriate number of bedrooms under the BHA Subsidy Standards. The Family Unit Size number is entered on the Voucher issued to the Family.
The following factors are used to determine the Family Unit Size:
(a) The Head of Household (and spouse or domestic partner, if applicable), shall be entitled to one bedroom.
(b) Two persons who are of the same sex shall only be entitled to one bedroom.
(c) The BHA shall inform the Applicant/Participant that s/he may elect to have a Child share a bedroom with another Child of the opposite sex, in order to be eligible for a smaller Voucher Unit Size.
(d) The BHA may assign an additional bedroom as a Reasonable Accommodation to a Disabled Family member.
(e) A single pregnant woman, as documented by a physician, with no other persons will be treated as a two-person Family. A pregnant woman whose Family includes other children will not be assigned an additional bedroom until the sex of the Child is determined and documented by a physician (either before or after birth). Once the sex of the Child is documented the BHA will assign the Family an additional bedroom if they are eligible.
(f) A Child who is temporarily away from the home because of placement in foster care (as documented by the Department of Children and Families) is considered a member of the Family in determining Family Unit Size.
(g) Personal Care Attendant: Any Personal Care Attendant, approved to live in the Unit to care for a Family member who is Disabled or is at least 50 years of age (near-Elderly), will be counted in determining the Family Unit Size.
(1) Definition: A Personal Care Attendant (“PCA”) is defined as a person who:
(i) Is determined by BHA based upon medical documentation from a Qualified Healthcare Provider to be essential to the care and wellbeing of an Elderly or Disabled Person or persons; AND
(ii) Is not obligated to support the Elderly or Disabled Person or persons; AND
(iii) would not be living in the Apartment except to provide the necessary supportive care; AND
(iv) Has no right to the Apartment as a Residual Tenant except as provided in section 11.8, AND
(v) Does not have his/her income included in the Elderly or Disabled Participant’s Household for the purposes of determining total Family income and rent except as provided in section 11.8.
(2) Personal Care Attendant Policy
(i) Any PCA must meet the definition of a PCA as stated above.
(ii) A PCA can be a Single Person or a person with a Household (Example: a PCA may have his/her own children that reside with them).
(iii) No addition of a PCA and his/her Household, if applicable, shall result in overcrowding of the Apartment.
(iv) No PCA and his/her Household, if applicable, has the right to the Apartment as a Residual Tenant except as provided in Section (vii)(B) below.
(v) Any PCA and his/her Household, if applicable, must sign a waiver of residual residency status except as provided in (vii)(B) below.
(vi) Any PCA and his/her Household, if applicable, must meet the BHA’s Eligibility Requirements.
(vii) Any PCA and his/her Household, if applicable, will be counted as a member of the Participant’s Household composition for the purposes of determining the appropriate Apartment size ONLY.
(viii) A relative who satisfies the definition above will be notified in writing that s/he may be qualified as a PCA and may choose one of the following two options:
(A) S/he can qualify as a PCA, choose not to include his/her income as part of the total Household income and sign a waiver of residual residency status.
(B) S/he can qualify as a PCA, have his/her income included as part of the total Household income and retain rights as a remaining member of the Household.
(ix) Unless a PCA resides with the Family, the Family Unit Size for any family consisting of a single person must be either a zero or one-bedroom Unit, as determined under the BHA Subsidy Standards.
(h) Exceptions to the Subsidy Standards
Exceptions to the above Subsidy Standard policies may be made if the BHA determines that such an exception is justified by the sex, age, health, Disability, handicap, relationship of the Family members, or other personal circumstances. However, for a Single Person who is not a Disabled Person, or an Elderly Person, such exception will not override (g)(2)(ix) above.
(i) When a Family May Rent an Apartment Larger than the Voucher Size
The Family may select a larger Apartment if the Family is willing to pay the difference between the rent and the approved subsidy and doing so would not require the Family to pay more than 40% of the Family’s Monthly Adjusted Income for rent and utilities. The requested rent must be reasonable in comparison to similar unassisted units.
(j) When a Family May Rent an Apartment Smaller than the Voucher Size
The Family may select a smaller Unit than that which is listed on the Voucher in the following instances:
(i) The Head of Household, if single, chooses to share a bedroom with another member of the Family of the same sex or with a child of the opposite sex of less than three years of age; or
(ii) There is at a least one bedroom or living/sleeping room of appropriate size for each two persons; or
(iii) The State Sanitary Code requirements are met if on member of the Family is using or will use the living area as a sleeping area instead of a bedroom.
(k) Changes in an Applicant’s Family Composition.
If the Family's composition has changed since their initial application, the Family must provide verification of the change. Changes in Family Composition must be reported within thirty (30) days from the date of the change. (See also sections 11.1.1(a), 10.1.3 and 10.1.4 for more regarding changes in Family Composition). The BHA will issue a Voucher of the appropriate bedroom size based upon the Family's current composition except in cases where the relationship, age, sex, health, disability or handicap of the Family members warrants the assignment of a larger Voucher Size than that which would result from a strict application of the above criteria. These exceptions must be documented and approved by Administrator or his/her designee.
5.5 Income Eligibility and Targeting
Persons meeting BHA income qualifications are those whose Annual Income at the time of Admission, does not exceed the income limits for occupancy established by HUD. The BHA posts Income limits separately in BHA offices and on its web site (www.bostonhousing.org).
5.5.1 Income Eligible Family
To be income eligible the Family must be a Family in any of the following categories:
(a) A Family with an annual gross income equal to or less than 50% of Area Median Income (which is also known as “very low-income”);
(b) A low-income Family that is Continuously Assisted under the 1937 Housing Act;
(c) A low-income Family that currently resides in a BHA state subsidized public housing development, but is being displaced due to modernization or rehabilitation or other reasons due to no fault of the Family and the Family was initially eligible for BHA state subsidized public housing;
(d) A Family residing in “expiring use” developments where the Family’s household income does not exceed 80% of Area Median Income (or “low- income”);
(e) A Family residing in developments which are eligible for the receipt of enhanced Vouchers according to applicable law, may be eligible for the Section 8 program as long as the Applicant’s household gross income does not exceed 95% of area median income.
(f) A low-income Family that qualifies for Voucher assistance as a non-purchasing Family residing in a HOPE 1 or Hope 2 project. (Section 8(o)(4)(D) of the 1937 Act (42 U.S.C. § 1437f(o)(4)(D));
(g) A low- or moderate-income Family that is displaced as the result of the prepayment of the mortgage or voluntary termination of an insurance contract on eligible low income housing as defined in 24 C.F.R. § 248.101.
(h) A low-income Family that qualifies for Voucher assistance as a non-purchasing Family residing in a project subject to a Participant homeownership program under 24 C.F.R. § 248.173.
5.5.2 Targeting Requirements
The BHA will conduct “income targeting” as required by applicable law to ensure that 75% of all Section 8 tenant-based program waiting list Admissions go to Extremely Low-Income Families (those with incomes at or below 30% of the area median income). Income targeting requirements do not apply to Special Admissions (see section 3.6).
(a) “Continuously Assisted” families are not subject to the aforementioned targeting requirements and need not be at 50% of Area Median Income or below to be eligible, as long as their income is low enough to qualify for some level of subsidy assistance.
The BHA considers a Family to be Continuously Assisted under the 1937 Housing Act if the Family is already receiving assistance under any 1937 Housing Act program when the Family is admitted to the Certificate or Voucher program. A brief interruption between assistance under one of these programs and Admission to the Certificate or Voucher program shall not be considered a break in the continuity of assistance as long as:
(1) The Family was qualified to enter the subsequent program at the time participation in the prior program was terminated; and
(2) The interruption of assistance was not caused by the Family's willful violation of program regulations; or
(3) The termination of assistance under the earlier program was not due to the Family's violation of program regulations.
5.5.3 Determining and Verifying Family Income
During the eligibility interview and/or Recertification interview, the Applicant/Participant must certify any income, Assets, income deductions and income exclusions pertaining to an Applicant/Participant’s Household. In conjunction with Applicant/Participant reported income, Upfront Income Verification (UIV) or third party verification is required to determine income eligibility and amount of the subsidy.
Income eligibility. The BHA bases Income eligibility for the program on annual gross Family income without taking into account any deductions.
Subsidy and monthly rent calculation. The monthly rent is determined by adding together gross income from all sources for all Family members, including income from Assets, and reducing that income by allowable deductions and income exclusions, in accordance with Federal (HUD) regulations.
See Section 4.3.3 for length of eligibility of income documentation and verification.
Projections of Annual Income shall be based on the best available information, with due consideration to the past year's income of all Family members, current income and effective date, and shall include projections for each income recipient in the household.
All forms of income, deductions, exclusions and Assets must be verified in accordance with BHA policy and HUD requirements. The following is a non-exhaustive list of information that may be accepted to verify income:
(a) Income from Employment
(1) Upfront Income Verification (UIV) (See section 4.3.2(a))
(2) A completed employment verification form (third party verification) stating the gross wages of the employee, including history or anticipated amounts of overtime or bonus to be earned by the employee, or
(2) Pay stubs showing gross income for each pay period and all deductions taken for four consecutive weeks;
(3) The income of workers employed on an irregular basis will be estimated based on verification of the best information available, with due consideration to earning ability and work history.
(4) Up to $480 of earned income of an 18-year-old or older Full-time student will be counted. The student must verify full time status with a statement on the letterhead of an accredited educational institution stating that the student is enrolled as a Full-time student at that institution.
(5) The BHA may also require the tenant to produce additional information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when annual income cannot be determined from the previous sources listed in this section. The BHA may request that the tax information be sent directly to the BHA using tax form 4506-T.
(b) Income from Governmental Agencies. A statement from the appropriate agency (Social Security, Department of Transitional Assistance, Employment Security, etc), stating the amount of annual or Monthly Income provided, including the gross amount and any deductions taken.
(c) Income from Retirement Accounts. A statement from the source stating the amount of annual or Monthly Income provided, including the gross amount and any deductions taken
(d) Income from operation of a business or profession
(1) Most recent audited financial statement of income and loss;
(2) Most recent tax return showing income and/or loss from the operation of a business or profession.
(e) Child Support, alimony, regular gifts and gambling proceeds
(1) A statement from the individual, business or agency providing the income and the frequency and amount of income provided; and/or
(2) Signed release form allowing the BHA to obtain information from the State Division of Child Support.
(f) Income from Assets
(1) Definition of Assets. Assets consist of bank accounts, trust funds, investments in stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit or money market funds, individual retirement accounts, and Keough accounts, life insurance, real property (buildings or land), or capital investments.
(2) Actual vs. Imputed Income. Income from Assets shall be based on either the actual income received or Imputed Income based upon current passbook savings rates in accordance with federal and state regulations as applicable. For instance, actual interest received shall be used for interest bearing bank accounts, money market funds, rented property, etc. Imputed Income will be used for real property which is not rented, jewelry, coin collections, works of art and other non-income bearing Assets. If the value of the asset is more than $5,000 the higher of Imputed Income or actual income received will be used.
(3) Common household items such as furniture, clothing, and vehicles used for day-to-day transportation shall not be considered Assets for the purposes of calculating income.
(4) Estimated bank withdrawal penalties, fees, and settlement costs used to determine cash value will be determined in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations.
(5) In the case of tenants who own real estate, the property tax assessment will be used to determine the fair market value of real estate.
(6) If the Family claims to have inaccessible Assets or a trust that is not revocable or under the control of any Family member, it is up to the Family to prove such inaccessibility with reasonable, sufficient, valid documentation. Any income distributed from the a trust or any other inaccessible asset will be considered when determining the Family’s annual income.
(7) Types of verification that will be accepted for purposes of determining the value and income received from an asset include:
(i) Third Party Income Verification form filled out by a financial institution;
(ii) Original passbook for passbook savings accounts;
(iii) Most recent (no older than one year) appraised value of real property owned provided it’s reflective of fair market value, in the form of property tax bill or appraisal from a Real Estate Appraiser; and
(iv) Appraised valuations of any non-essential personal Assets such as jewelry, coin collections, antiques or classic cars.
(g) Verification of childcare expenses or care of Disabled Family Member deductions. This deduction is available for any reasonable childcare expenses to enable a Family member to be employed or to further his or her education. Such expenses are amounts anticipated to be paid by the Family for the care of children under 13 years of age during the period for which Annual Income is computed, but only where such care is necessary to enable a Family member to actively seek employment, be gainfully employed, or to further his or her education. The deduction will not be granted for any amount that is reimbursed.
The BHA does not consider Child Care Expenses to be reasonable if the expense exceeds 50% of the gross income derived from the job enabled by the child care.
(1) Statement from the provider of childcare or care of Disabled Person who is a Household Member of the amount of payment made on a periodic basis by the Applicant and proof of payment (e.g., cancelled check, money order receipt, IRS-1099 Form, etc.).
(h) Verification of Medical Deductions. This deduction is available to an Elderly or Disabled Family (i.e., in which the Head of Household or spouse is 62 years of age or older or is a Disabled Person). The BHA requires third party verification of the following un-reimbursed medical expenses for any Family member paid within the last twelve months:
(1) Statement of the cost of medical insurance and the frequency of cost from the provider or in the form of deductions indicated on pay stubs or Social Security statements accompanied by proof of payment;
(2) Receipts for payment of prescriptions and other health care needs. Non-prescription health care needs must be documented by both receipts and a statement from a Qualified Health Care Provider of the need for such items (including non-prescription medications, wheelchairs or other disability related aids, etc);
(3) A printout of prescription costs from a pharmacy accompanied by proof of payment by a Family member;
(4) Medical or dental bills for a Family member paid and proof of payment by a Family member.
(i) Verification of Disability Assistance Expenses
This deduction is available for un-reimbursed attendant care and auxiliary apparatus expenses for each member of the Family who is a Disabled Person, to the extent necessary to enable any member of the Family (including but limited to the member who is a Disabled Person) to be employed. This deduction may not exceed the earned income received by Family members who are 18 years of age or older and who are able to work because of such attendant care or auxiliary apparatus.
(j) Verification of Permanent Residence at a Hospital
The income of a Family member confined to a long-term health care facility, as well as the deductions for their care may be excluded from consideration.
(k) Disallowance of an Increase in Annual Income for Participant Families with Disabled Members
If a Family’s income increases as a result of employment of a Participant Family member who is a Disabled Person who has not been employed for one or more years prior to employment, the BHA will not count the increase in income due to the employment for a 12 month period. During the second 12-month period after the new employment the BHA will only count 50% of the income.
The earned income disallowance is limited to a lifetime 48-month period for each Disabled Family member; that is, the disallowance applies for a maximum of 12 months of full exclusion of incremental increase, and a maximum of 12 months of phase-in exclusion during the 48-month period starting on the date of the initial exclusion.
If the period of increased income does not last for 12 consecutive months, the disallowance period may be resumed at any time within the 48-month period, and continued until the disallowance has been applied for a total of 12 months of each disallowance (the initial 12-month full exclusion and the second 12-month phase-in exclusion).
No earned income disallowance will be applied after the 48-month period following the initial date the exclusion was applied.
5.5.4 Zero Income
When an Adult Family member reports zero income, the BHA will require the Household to complete a budget or statement of financial responsibility. An investigation may also include ordering a credit report on the Family member. If the Family member owns a motor vehicle, a telephone, or has other evidence of some form of expenditures reflecting income, the Family member will be asked to explain the source of funds supporting such cash expenditures
In addition, the Family member will be required to sign releases allowing the BHA to obtain verification of no-income from sources such as Dept. of Transitional Assistance, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Revenue, Social Security Administration, Employment Security and Veterans Affairs.
(a) Frequency of Zero Income Recertification
The BHA may require a zero income Participant to recertify every month, but at a minimum will require quarterly Recertifications, until an Annual Income is determined.
5.6 Review of Citizenship and Eligible Immigration Status
Each Applicant/Participant’s status as a U.S. Citizen, Eligible Non-Citizen or ineligible Non-Citizen must be verified except as indicated below. Determination of eligibility or partial eligibility for subsidized housing is affected by Citizen or Non-Citizen status. At least one Household Member must be a Citizen or Eligible Non-Citizen.
5.6.1 What Evidence Will Be Required
Evidence of U.S. Citizenship or "Eligible Immigration Status" will be required to be submitted for all Family members regardless of their age, except as indicated below. If you choose not to contend that you are a Citizen or have eligible immigration status you must complete a form electing not to contend to such status
(a) If You Are a U.S. Citizen:
A signed Declaration of U.S. Citizenship
(b) If You Are a Non-Citizen Who is Age 62 or Over:
A signed Declaration of “Eligible Immigration Status”. You will also need to provide a “proof of age” document.
(c) If You Are a Non-Citizen Who Does Not Fall into One of the Categories Above:
A signed Declaration of “Eligible Immigration Status,” a signed Verification Consent Form and you must provide the original of one of the documents listed below:
(1) Registered Alien Card: U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”) I-551 Form;
(2) Arrival /Departure Record: INS I-94 Form; with one of the following annotations:
(i) “Admitted as Refugee pursuant to Section 207;”
(ii) “Section 208” or “Asylum;”
(iii) “Section 243(h)” or “Deportation stayed by Attorney General;” or
(iv) “Paroled pursuant to Section 2112(d)(5) of the INAA.”
(3) Arrival /Departure Record: INS I-94 Form, not annotated, accompanied by one of the following documents:
(i) A final court decision granting asylum to which no appeal was taken;
(ii) A letter from an INS Asylum Officer granting asylum (if application was filed on or after October 1, 1990) or from an INS District Director (if application filed before October 1, 1990);
(iii) A court decision granting the withholding of deportation; or
(iv) A letter from an INS Asylum Officer granting withholding of deportation (if application was filed on or after October 1, 1990).
(4) Temporary Participant Card: INS I-688 Form, which must be annotated with the notation of either “Section 245A” or “Section 210;”
(5) Employment Authorization Card: INS Employment Authorization Card I-688B Form, which must be annotated with the notation either: “Provision of Law 274a.12(11)” or “Provision of Law 274a.12;” or
(6) Receipt from the INS indicating Application for Issuance of a Replacement Document.
(d) Eligible Immigration Status for all Non-Citizen Family members must be verified through the INS unless there is an election not to contend or all Family members are 62 years of age or older and have submitted proof of age and a declaration of eligible non-Citizen status.
5.7 Review of Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI)
The BHA uses criminal conviction records obtained from law enforcement agencies to screen Applicants for eligibility to the HCVP. All Applicants are advised in writing that criminal activity by any Applicant may be a cause for denial to the Section 8 Program. To determine eligibility the BHA reviews a Criminal Offender Record Information (“CORI”) report from the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board (“CHSB”), or a similar entity in another state, if the Applicant has not been residing in Massachusetts for the past two (2) years. The BHA will pay costs associated with obtaining criminal record reports.
The BHA will request CORI for an Applicant who is fourteen (14) years of age or older in accordance with State and federal law..
For the purposes of CORI certification, the BHA must verify the identity of the Applicant with a form of government-issued photographic identification (if photographic identification is unavailable the BHA may accept proof of birth). The BHA will obtain the following information on the CORI request form to ensure the correct identity of the Applicant:
Maiden name or Alias;
Date of Birth;
Place of Birth;
Social Security Number (requested but not required);
Mother’s maiden name;
Other information as required under State or federal law.
If the BHA obtains criminal record information showing that an Applicant Family member has been convicted of a crime relevant to eligibility, the BHA will notify the Applicant of the proposed denial and provide the subject of the record and the Applicant a copy of such information, and an opportunity to dispute the accuracy and relevance of the information. The BHA may also consider evidence that any criminal activity was directly related to or resulting from incidents of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking as Mitigating Circumstances. The BHA will send the Applicant a letter offering the Applicant the opportunity to provide information by mail to dispute, resolve, or mitigate the criminal record information. The BHA will also provide the Applicant and the subject of the criminal record with a copy of the criminal record and let the Applicant know which portion of the record appears to make the Family ineligible. Upon receipt of additional information from the Applicant, the BHA will review the information and inform the Applicant of the decision.
5.7.1 Use and Maintenance of CORI
The BHA will use, maintain, and destroy CORI in accordance with 803 CMR § 5.00
No BHA employee shall disseminate or retain CORI for any purpose other than that expressly permitted by law. No BHA employee shall disseminate CORI to any individual other than an individual involved in the Applicant Certification process who is expressly authorized to have access to CORI.
CORI shall be destroyed when the Applicant to whom it pertains has been housed or has received a subsidy. If an Applicant has been determined ineligible for housing or subsidy, the Applicant’s CORI shall be destroyed three (3) years from the date of the application’s rejection, or after all administrative and judicial proceedings concerning the rejection are exhausted, whichever is later.
An Applicant shall be determined eligible on the basis of all other HCVP criteria before eligibility is determined on the basis of CORI.
5.8 Required Release Forms
All Adult Family members will be required to execute the following releases of information or sign information forms as appropriate:
(i) The single standard Release of Information form that is to be signed by the Applicant and each adult Family member;
(ii) Non-Citizen Rule– Verification of Consent for all Family members;
(iii) One copy of the CORI Release of Information form advising the Family member that CORI will be used on all persons fourteen (14) and over; and
(iv) The Privacy Act Notice.
Note: Refusal to sign these forms or other documents required to process the application, complete Recertification, or conduct screening will result in the withdrawal of the application or termination of the subsidy. The BHA has discretion to determine what constitutes adequate and credible documentation. If staff has doubts about the veracity or reliability of information received, they may examine alternative methods of verification with the Applicant or third parties until they are satisfied that the documentation is reliable or that reliable documentation is unattainable. The BHA will not offer housing to an Applicant who has failed to provide requested documentation or to identify sources who can provide documentation which demonstrates the ability of the Family to comply with the essential obligations of the Lease or meet other eligibility requirements.
5.9 Briefing Session
If the Applicant is determined eligible for the HCVP, the BHA will provide a letter inviting them to a briefing session.
If the Applicant is ineligible, the BHA will give them a letter stating the reason for ineligibility and informing the Family of their right to request an informal review of the determination or a reasonable accommodation. The letter will also include a description of the process for obtaining such a review. Failure to attend the briefing session will result in withdrawal from the waiting list.
5.9.1 Issuing Vouchers
At the briefing session, the BHA will issue the Family a Voucher. The size of the Voucher will be in accordance with the BHA Subsidy Standards.
5.9.2 Conducting Briefing Sessions
The BHA will provide briefing sessions when necessary. Applicants may supply their own interpreter, but the BHA will take reasonable steps to assure meaningful access by Disabled Persona and persons with limited English ability in accordance with section 1.3.4 of this Administrative Plan. At the briefing session the Voucher will be issued to the Family. The instructor will orally brief the Family and supply them with an information packet regarding the rules of the program.
(a) Oral Briefing. When the BHA selects a Family to participate in a tenant-based program, the BHA will give the Family an oral briefing. The briefing must include information on the following subjects:
(1) A description of how the program works;
(2) Family and Owner responsibilities; and
(3) Where the Family may Lease a Unit, including renting a dwelling Unit inside or outside the BHA Jurisdiction;
(4) For a Family that qualifies to Lease a Unit outside the BHA Jurisdiction under Portability procedures, the briefing must include an explanation of how Portability works. The BHA may not discourage the Family from choosing to live anywhere in the BHA Jurisdiction, or outside the BHA Jurisdiction under Portability procedures;
(5) If the Family is currently living in a high poverty census tract in the BHA's Jurisdiction, the briefing must also explain the advantages of moving to an area that does not have a high concentration of poor families;
(6) In briefing a Family that includes any Disabled person, the BHA must take appropriate steps to ensure effective communication in accordance with 24 C.F.R. § 8.6.
(b) Information packet. When a Family is selected to participate in the program, the BHA will give the Family a packet that includes information on the following subjects:
(1) The term of the Voucher, and BHA policy on any extensions or suspensions of the term. If the BHA allows extensions, the packet must explain how the Family can request an extension;
(2) How the PHA determines the amount of the Housing Assistance Payment for a Family, including:
(i) How the PHA determines the Payment Standard for a Family; and
(ii) How the PHA determines the Total Tenant Payment for a Family.
(3) How the BHA determines the maximum rent for an assisted unit;
(4) Where the Family may Lease a Unit. For a Family that qualifies to Lease a Unit outside the BHA Jurisdiction under Portability procedures, the information packet will also include an explanation of how Portability works and the list of city of towns that the BHA services;
(5) The HUD-required “tenancy addendum” that must be included in the Lease;
(6) The form that the Family uses to request BHA approval of the assisted tenancy, and an explanation of how to request such approval;
(7) A statement of the BHA policy on providing information about a Family to prospective Owners;
(8) BHA Subsidy Standards, including when the BHA will consider granting exceptions to the standards;
(9) The HUD brochure on how to select a unit;
(10) Information on federal, State and local fair housing and equal opportunity laws, a copy of the housing discrimination complaint form and the phone number for the Fair Housing Complaint Hotline(currently 1-800-669-9777 or TTY 800-887-8339 for persons with hearing or speech impairments);
(11) A list of landlords or other parties known to the BHA who may be willing to Lease a Unit to the Family, or help the Family find a Unit;
(12) Notice that if the Family includes a Disabled Person, the Family may request a current listing of accessible units known to the BHA that may be available;
(13) BHA informal hearing procedures. This information must describe when the BHA is required to give a Participant the opportunity for an informal hearing; and
(14) The BHA Family Break-Up Policy and the Residual Family Policy.
 Single persons include: a single man; a single woman who is pregnant at the time of admission; a single person who has secured, or is in the process of securing, the custody of any individual(s) below the age of 18; an Elderly person; a Person with a Disability or Handicap; a Displaced Person; or a Single Person who is not Elderly, Disabled, handicapped or displaced, each as defined in Chapter 11 of this Policy.
 Personal Care Attendants do not have rights of tenancy, nor can they be considered the remaining member of a resident household unless they are found to be a licensed PCA and select one of the options in Chapter 5, section 5.4.2(g).
 See 24 C.F.R. § 5.403.
 Other Publicly Assisted Housing Program – means residence in any housing program assisted under M.G.L. ch. 121B (such as state-assisted public housing for families, Elderly or disabled persons), or Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program or assisted under the United States Housing Act of 1937 as amended (42 U.S.C. § 1401 et seq.) (such as federally-assisted public housing for families, Elderly or disabled persons, Section 8 certificate/voucher, project-based certificate, moderate rehabilitation, loan management/property disposition leased housing program, Indian housing, or tenant-based assistance under the HOME program)
 See 24 C.F.R. section 982.201(b)(2)(i)