What Is Section 8 Fraud?

What Is Section 8 Fraud?
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More people want Section 8 assistance than Congressional funding allows for. Once a family secures a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher they might not want to give it up. Section 8 subsidies help ease a low-income household's rent-paying burden on quality market rate units. With virtually all means-tested initiatives, however, come rules and guidelines. If you don't follow some of them, you may have committed a serious crime.

Function

HUD provides Section 8 assistance to families who make 50 percent or less of their area's median income. Every year, HUD calculates income limits for counties and metropolitan areas across the nation. The smaller your household, the lower your specific income limit. As household size increases, so does your income limit. To regulate entry into the Section 8 program, HUD validates applicant's income and assets prior to issuing assistance and on an ongoing basis.

Types of Fraud

If you falsify information, knowingly provide inaccurate information or leave key details out of your application, you have committed Section 8 fraud. You must include not only income you earn from working, but Social Security, disability, welfare assistance, child support and details about your assets, such as savings and investments, to the public housing agency that processes your Section 8 application. If you leave something out or fail to report changes while receiving assistance, HUD may be able to prosecute you for Section 8 fraud. Along the same lines as reporting income, you must also note changes in household size.

Responsibilities

HUD directs public housing agencies to set up protocols for verifying household size and family income and assets to determine eligibility initially and while it provides benefits to a family. Federal regulations require housing agencies to verify your income, assets and deductions to your income by contacting employers, banks and public assistance agencies. As a Section 8 applicant or tenant, you must not only be truthful, but you must provide all information your housing agency requests and immediately report any changes to your income, assets and household makeup.

Punishment

If you commit Section 8 fraud, you could lose your benefits and face eviction from your home. HUD could also require that you repay assistance you received while perpetrating fraud. You may also face fines of up to $10,000, prison time of up to five years, ineligibility for future government assistance and local and state government sanctions.

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