GFHA Administrative Plan for the Housing Choice Voucher Program
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Chapter 3: Eligibility
INTRODUCTION The GFHA is responsible for ensuring that every individual and family admitted to the HCV program meets all program eligibility requirements. This includes any individual approved to join the family after the family has been admitted to the program. The family must provide any information needed by the GFHA to confirm eligibility and determine the level of the family’s assistance. To be eligible for the HCV program:
The applicant family must:
Qualify as a family as defined by HUD and the GFHA.
Have income at or below HUD-specified income limits.
Qualify on the basis of citizenship or the eligible immigrant status of family members.
Provide social security number information for household members as required.
Consent to the GFHA’s collection and use of family information as provided for in GFHA-provided consent forms.
Not currently be receiving a duplicative subsidy.
The GFHA must determine that the current or past behavior of household members does not include activities that are prohibited by HUD or the GFHA.
PART I:DEFINITIONS OF FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS 3-I.A. OVERVIEW Some eligibility criteria and program rules vary depending upon the composition of the family requesting assistance. In addition, some requirements apply to the family as a whole and others apply to individual persons who will live in the assisted unit. This part provides information that is needed to correctly identify family and household members, and to apply HUD's eligibility rules.
3-I.B. FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD [24 CFR 982.201(c); FR Notice 02/03/12; Notice PIH 2014-20] The terms family and household have different meanings in the HCV program.
Family To be eligible for assistance, an applicant must qualify as a family. Family as defined by HUD includes, but is not limited to the following, regardless actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status, a single person, who may be an elderly person, disabled person, near-elderly person, or any other single person; or a group of persons residing together. Such group includes, but is not limited to a family with or without children (a child who is temporarily away from the home because of placement in foster care is considered a member of the family), an elderly family, a near-elderly family, a disabled family, a displaced family, or the remaining member of a tenant family. The GFHA has the discretion to determine if any other group of persons qualifies as a family.
GFHA Policy A family also includes two or more individuals who are not related by blood, marriage, adoption, or other operation of law but who either can demonstrate that they have lived together previously or certify that each individual’s income and other resources will be available to meet the needs of the family.
Each family must identify the individuals to be included in the family at the time of application, and must notify the GFHA if the family’s composition changes.
Household Household is a broader term that includes additional people who, with the GFHA’s permission, live in an assisted unit, such as live-in aides, foster children, and foster adults.
3-I.C. FAMILY BREAKUP AND REMAINING MEMBER OF TENANT FAMILY Family Breakup [24 CFR 982.315; Notice PIH 2017-08] Except under the following conditions, the GFHA has discretion to determine which members of an assisted family continue to receive assistance if the family breaks up:
If the family breakup results from an occurrence of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, the GFHA must ensure that the victim retains assistance. (For documentation requirements and policies related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, see section 16-IX.D of this plan.)
In accordance with Noitce PIH 2017-08, for HUD–Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD–VASH) vouchers, when the veteran is the perpetrator of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, the victim must continue to be assisted. Upon termination of the perpetrator’s HUD–VASH voucher, the victim should be given a regular HCV if one is available, and the perpetrator’s HUD–VASH voucher should be used to serve another eligible family. If a regular HCV is not available, the victim will continue to use the HUD–VASH voucher, which must be issued to another eligible family upon the voucher’s turnover.
If a court determines the disposition of property between members of the assisted family, the GFHA is bound by the court’s determination of which family members continue to receive assistance.
GFHA Policy When a family on the waiting list breaks up into two otherwise eligible families, only one of the new families may retain the original application date. Other former family members may make a new application with a new application date if the waiting list is open.
If a family breaks up into two otherwise eligible families while receiving assistance, only one of the new families will continue to be assisted.
In the absence of a judicial decision or an agreement among the original family members, the GFHA will determine which family will retain their placement on the waiting list or continue to receive assistance. In making its determination, the GFHA will take into consideration the following factors: (1) the interest of any minor children, including custody arrangements; (2) the interest of any ill, elderly, or disabled family members; (3) the interest of any family member who is the victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including a family member who was forced to leave an assisted unit as a result of such actual or threatened abuse; (4) any possible risks to family members as a result of criminal activity; and (5) the recommendations of social service professionals.
Remaining Member of a Tenant Family [24 CFR 5.403] The HUD definition of family includes the remaining member of a tenant family, which is a member of an assisted family who remains in the unit when other members of the family have left the unit. Household members such as live-in aides, foster children, and foster adults do not qualify as remaining members of a family.
If dependents are the only “remaining members of a tenant family” and there is no family member able to assume the responsibilities of the head of household, see Chapter 6, Section 6-I.B, for the policy on “Caretakers for a Child.”
3-I.D. HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD [24 CFR 5.504(b)] Head of household means the adult member of the family who is considered the head for purposes of determining income eligibility and rent. The head of household is responsible for ensuring that the family fulfills all of its responsibilities under the program, alone or in conjunction with a coheador spouse.
GFHA Policy The family may designate any qualified family member as the head of household.
The head of household must have the legal capacity to enter into a lease under state and local law. A minor who is emancipated under state law may be designated as head of household.
3-I.E. SPOUSE, COHEAD, AND OTHER ADULT A family may have a spouse or cohead, but not both [HUD-50058 IB, p. 13]. Spouse means the marriage partner of the head of household.
GFHA Policy A marriage partner includes the partner in a "common law" marriage as defined in state law. The term “spouse” does not apply to friends, roommates, or significant others who are not marriage partners. A minor who is emancipated under state law may be designated as a spouse. A cohead is an individual in the household who is equally responsible with the head of household for ensuring that the family fulfills all of its responsibilities under the program, but who is not a spouse. A family can have only one cohead.
GFHA Policy Minors who are emancipated under state law may be designated as a cohead. Other adult means a family member, other than the head, spouse, or cohead, who is 18 years of age or older. Foster adults and live-in aides are not considered other adults.
3-I.F. DEPENDENT [24 CFR 5.603] A dependent is a family member who is under 18 years of age or a person of any age who is a person with a disability or a full-time student, except that the following persons can never be dependents: the head of household, spouse, cohead, foster children/adults and live-in aides. Identifying each dependent in the family is important because each dependent qualifies the family for a dependent allowance as described in Chapter 6.
Joint Custody of Dependents GFHA Policy Dependents who are subject to a joint custody arrangement will be considered a member of the family, if they live with the applicant or participant family 50 percent or more of the time. In cases where custody is divided equally (50/50), the GFHA will attempt to obtain a written statement from the parent not included on the application that they will not seek housing assistance including the same child on their application. When more than one applicant or participant family is claiming the same dependents as family members, the family with primary custody at the time of the initial examination or reexamination will be able to claim the dependents. If there is a dispute about which family should claim them, the GFHA will make the determination based on available documents such as court orders and school records.
3-I.G. FULL-TIME STUDENT [24 CFR 5.603; HCV GB, p. 5-29] A full-time student (FTS) is a person who is attending school or vocational training on a full-time basis. The time commitment or subject load that is needed to be full-time is defined by the educational institution.
Identifying each FTS is important because: (1) each family member that is an FTS, other than the head, spouse, or cohead, qualifies the family for a dependent allowance, and (2) the earned income of such an FTS is treated differently from the income of other family members.
3-I.H. ELDERLY AND NEAR-ELDERLY PERSONS, AND ELDERLY FAMILY [24 CFR 5.100 and 5.403, FR Notice 02/03/12] Elderly Persons An elderly person is a person who is at least 62 years of age.
Near-Elderly Persons A near-elderly person is a person who is 50-61 years of age.
Elderly Family An elderly family is one in which the head, spouse, cohead, or sole member is an elderly person. Identifying elderly families is important because elderly families qualify for the elderly family allowance as described in Chapter 6.
3-I.I. PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AND DISABLED FAMILY [24 CFR 5.403, FR Notice 02/03/12] Persons with Disabilities Under the HCV program, special rules apply to persons with disabilities and to any family whose head, spouse, or cohead is a person with disabilities. The technical definitions of individual with handicaps and persons with disabilities are provided in Exhibit 3-1 at the end of this chapter. These definitions are used for a number of purposes including ensuring that persons with disabilities are not discriminated against based upon disability.
As discussed in Chapter 2, the GFHA must make all aspects of the HCV program accessible to persons with disabilities and consider reasonable accommodations requested based upon a person’s disability.
Disabled Family A disabled family is one in which the head, spouse, or cohead is a person with disabilities. Identifying disabled families is important because these families qualify for the disabled family allowance as described in Chapter 6.
Even though persons with drug or alcohol dependencies are considered persons with disabilities, this does not prevent the GFHA from denying assistance for reasons related to alcohol and drug abuse in accordance with the policies found in Part III of this chapter, or from terminating assistance in accordance with the policies in Chapter 12.
3-I.J. GUESTS [24 CFR 5.100] A guest is a person temporarily staying in the unit with the consent of a member of the household who has expressed or implied authority to so consent.
GFHA Policy A guest can remain in the assisted unit no longer than 10 consecutive days or no more than 30 days within a 12 month period. Children who are subject to a joint custody arrangement or for whom a family has visitation privileges, that are not included as a family member because they live outside of the assisted household more than 50 percent of the time, are not subject to the time limitations of guests as described above.
A family may request an exception to this policy for valid reasons (e.g., care of a relative recovering from a medical procedure is expected to last 15 consecutive days). An exception will not be made unless the family can identify and provide documentation of the residence to which the guest will return.
Use of the unit address as the guest's current residence for any purpose that is not explicitly temporary shall be construed as evidence of permanent residence.
3-I.K. FOSTER CHILDREN AND FOSTER ADULTS Foster adults are usually persons with disabilities, unrelated to the tenant family, who are unable to live alone [24 CFR 5.609]. The term foster child is not specifically defined by the regulations.
Foster children and foster adults who are living with an applicant or who have been approved by the GFHA to live with a participant family are considered household members but not family members. The income of foster children/adults is not counted in family annual income, and foster children/adults do not qualify for a dependent deduction[24 CFR 5.603; HUD-50058 IB, p. 13].
GFHA Policy A foster child is a child that is in the legal guardianship or custody of a state, county, or private adoption or foster care agency, yet is cared for by foster parents in their own homes, under some kind of short-term or long-term foster care arrangement with the custodial agency.
A foster child or foster adult may be allowed to reside in the unit if their presence would not result in a violation of HQS space standards according to 24 CFR 982.401.
Children who are temporarily absent from the home as a result of placement in foster care are discussed in Section 3-I.L below.
3-I.L. ABSENT FAMILY MEMBERS Individuals may be absent from the family, either temporarily or permanently, for a variety of reasons including educational activities, placement in foster care, employment, illness, incarceration, and court order.
Definitions of Temporarily and Permanently Absent GFHA Policy Generally an individual who is or is expected to be absent from the assisted unit for 180 consecutive days or less is considered temporarily absent and continues to be considered a family member. Generally an individual who is or is expected to be absent from the assisted unit for more than 180 consecutive days is considered permanently absent and no longer a family member. Exceptions to this general policy are discussed below.
Absent Students GFHA Policy When someone who has been considered a family member attends school away from home, the person will continue to be considered a family member unless information becomes available to the GFHA indicating that the student has established a separate household or the family declares that the student has established a separate household.
Absences Due to Placement in Foster Care[24 CFR 5.403] Children temporarily absent from the home as a result of placement in foster care are considered members of the family.
GFHA Policy If a child has been placed in foster care, the GFHA will verify with the appropriate agency whether and when the child is expected to be returned to the home. Unless the agency confirms that the child has been permanently removed from the home, the child will be counted as a family member.
Absent Head, Spouse, or Cohead GFHA Policy An employed head, spouse, or cohead absent from the unit more than 180 consecutive days due to employment will continue to be considered a family member.
Family Members Permanently Confined for Medical Reasons [HCV GB, p. 5-22] If a family member is confined to a nursing home or hospital on a permanent basis, that person is no longer considered a family member and the income of that person is not counted [HCV GB, p. 5-22].
GFHA Policy An individual confined to a nursing home or hospital on a permanent basis is not considered a family member. The GFHA will request verification of the family member’s permanent absence from a responsible medical professional. If the responsible medical professional cannot provide a determination, the person will be considered temporarily absent. If the family certifies that the family member is confined on a permanent basis, they may present, and the GFHA will consider, any additional documentation or evidence.
Return of Permanently Absent Family Members GFHA Policy The family must request GFHA approval for the return of any adult family members that the GFHA previously determined to be permanently absent. The individual is subject to the eligibility and screening requirements discussed elsewhere in this chapter.
3-I.M. LIVE-IN AIDE A live-in aide is a person who resides with one or more elderly persons, or near-elderly persons, or persons with disabilities, and who: (1) is determined to be essential to the care and well-being of the persons, (2) is not obligated for the support of the persons, and (3) would not be living in the unit except to provide the necessary supportive services [24 CFR 5.403].
The GFHA must approve a live-in aide if needed as a reasonable accommodation in accordance with 24 CFR 8, to make the program accessible to and usable by the family member with disabilities.
The income of a live-in aide is not counted in the calculation of annual income for the family [24 CFR 5.609(b)]. Relatives may be approved as live-in aides if they meet all of the criteria defining a live-in aide. Because live-in aides are not family members, a relative who serves as a live-in aide would not be considered a remaining member of a tenant family.
GFHA Policy A family’s request for a live-in aide must be made in writing. Written verification will be required from a reliable, knowledgeable professional, such as a doctor, social worker, or case worker, that the live-in aide is essential for the care and well-being of the elderly, near-elderly, or disabled family member.
In addition, the family and live-in aide will be required to submit a certification stating that the live-in aide is (1) not obligated for the support of the person(s) needing the care, and (2) would not be living in the unit except to provide the necessary supportive services.
The GFHA will not approve a particular person as a live-in aide, and may withdraw such approval if [24 CFR 982.316(b)]:
The person commits fraud, bribery or any other corrupt or criminal act in connection with any federal housing program;
The person commits drug-related criminal activity or violent criminal activity; or
The person currently owes rent or other amounts to the GFHA or to another PHA in connection with Section 8 or public housing assistance under the 1937 Act.
The GFHA will notify the family of its decision in writing within 10 business days of receiving a request for a live-in aide, including all required documentation related to the request.