Boston Housing Authority

Policies > Section 8 Admin Plan Ch 1: Introduction and Policy

Section 8 Admin Plan

Chapter 1:Introduction and Policy

1.1 Introduction

It is the goal of the Boston Housing Authority (“BHA” or “the Authority”) to make rental subsidies accessible so interested and eligible families can afford safe, decent, and sanitary housing; to provide these housing services with integrity and mutual accountability; and create housing situations which will serve as catalysts for the transformation from dependence to economic self-sufficiency. 
 
This Administrative Plan describes Admission, Participation, and Termination policies by which the BHA determine eligibility, selects prospective Participants, approves Apartments and Owners, determines rents, and terminates subsidies, in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. 
 
This Administrative Plan applies to all programs funded by the Housing Choice Voucher Program (“HCVP”) Annual Contributions Contract, and including Family Self-Sufficiency (“FSS”), Homeownership, Mainstream, and the Project-Based Voucher (“PBV”) and Certificate programs, Designated Housing Vouchers, Enhanced Vouchers, and Relocation Vouchers.  Appendix A of this Administrative Plan covers the Moderate Rehabilitation Program.   The Moderate Rehabilitation Administrative Plan, Appendix A, frequently references Sections within the main document and commonly refers to this Administrative Plan as the “HCVP Administrative Plan”. 
 

1.2       Statement of Nondiscrimination

 

1.2.1    Compliance with Federal and State Laws

 
It is the policy of the BHA to comply fully with existing federal and State laws[1] protecting the individual rights of Applicants, Participants, or staff, as well as any laws subsequently enacted.
 

1.2.2    Civil Rights and Fair Housing

 
The BHA does not discriminate because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, handicap, disability, national origin, ethnicity, familial status or marital status, in the leasing of Apartments in connection with the HCVP.[2]
 
The BHA shall not, because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, handicap, disability, national origin, familial status, or marital status:
 
(a)        Deny to any Family the opportunity to apply for housing, or deny to any qualified Applicant the opportunity to lease housing suitable to his/her needs;
 
(b)        Provide housing which is different from that provided to others except as required or permitted by law and in accordance with this Administrative Plan;
 
(c)        Subject any person to segregation or disparate treatment;
 
(d)        Restrict a person's access to any benefit enjoyed by others in connection with a program covered by this Administrative Plan;
 
(e)        Treat a person differently in determining eligibility or other
requirements for Admission except in accordance with this plan;
 
(f)        Deny a person access to the same level of services available to other similarly situated individuals; or
 
(g)        Deny a person the opportunity to participate in the Resident Advisory Board (“RAB”) or any similar successor group that is an integral part of programs covered by this Administrative Plan.
 

1.2.3    Fair Admissions

 
The BHA shall not automatically deny Admission to a particular group or category of otherwise eligible Applicants (e.g., Households that have a Head of Household or Co-Head of Household who is a Disabled Person).
 
Each Applicant in a particular group or category must be treated on an individual basis in the eligibility procedure set forth in this plan.
 

1.2.4    Reasonable Accommodation

 
The BHA shall change or modify its policies or procedures as a Reasonable Accommodation for a Disabled Person where it is necessary to provide that person with an equal opportunity to use and enjoy programs covered by this Administrative Plan and BHA facilities, policies, and procedures. The BHA will make Reasonable Accommodations in accordance with the BHA’s Reasonable Accommodation in Rental Assistance Policies and Procedures (“RARAPP”).
 

1.2.5    Domestic Violence

 
It is the policy of BHA to assist victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking who are otherwise eligible for the HCVP, to access and retain safe and affordable housing.  The BHA follows the provisions listed below and those in the BHA Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) Policy when considering the denial or termination of assistance of a victim of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking.  See also BHA VAWA Policy. 
 
(a)        That an Applicant or Participant is or has been a victim of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking, is not an appropriate basis for denial of program assistance or for denial of admission, if the Applicant otherwise qualifies for assistance in accordance with this plan.
 
(b)        An incident or incidents of actual or threatened Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking will not be construed as a serious or repeated violation of the Lease by the victim or threatened victim of that violence and shall not be good cause for terminating the assistance, tenancy, or occupancy rights of the victim of such violence. 
 
(c)        Criminal Activity directly relating to Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking, engaged in by a member of a tenant’s household or any guest or another person under the household member’s control shall not be cause for termination of assistance, tenancy or occupancy rights if the tenant or an immediate member of the tenant’s Family is the victim, or threatened victim of that Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking. 
 

(i)         Notwithstanding clause (c), an Owner may bifurcate a Lease under this section, in order to evict, remove or terminate assistance to any individual who is a tenant or a lawful occupant and who engages in criminal acts of physical violence against family members or others, without evicting, removing, terminating the assistance to, or otherwise penalizing the victim of such violence who is also a tenant or lawful occupant.
 
(ii)        Nothing in clause (c) may be construed to limit the authority of the BHA or the Owner, when notified, to honor court orders addressing rights of access to or control of the property, including civil protection orders issued to protect the victim and issued to address the distribution or possession of property among the Household members where there is a Family Break-up. See also Section 11.7; Family Break-up Policy. 
 
(iii)       Nothing in clause (c) limits any otherwise available authority of an Owner to evict or the BHA to terminate assistance to a tenant for any violation of a Lease not premised on the act or acts of violence in question against the tenant or a member of the tenant’s household, provided the Owner does not subject an individual who is or has been a victim of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking to a more demanding standard than other tenants in determining whether to evict or terminate.
 
(iv)       Nothing in clause (c) may be construed to limit the authority of an Owner or BHA to evict or terminate the assistance of any tenant or lawful occupant if the Owner or BHA can demonstrate an actual or imminent threat to other tenants or those employed at providing service to the property if that tenant is not evicted or the program assistance is terminated. 

 (d)      Verification of Status as a Victim of Domestic Violence.    When a Family member seeks to avoid an adverse decision by the BHA on the grounds of being the victim of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence or Stalking, the BHA will require verification of the claimed incident or incidents. Verification must provided within 14 business days (i.e., 14 calendar days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and federally-recognized holidays) after receipt of the request for verification.  Failure to provide verification, in proper form within such time will result in loss of protection under VAWA and this policy against a proposed adverse action.  14 day period may be extended for good cause.    

The following documentation will be accepted for purposes of such verification:

(i)         A HUD-approved form;

(ii)      Documentation signed and attested under penalty of perjury by an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim service provider, an attorney, or a medical professional, from whom the victim has sought assistance in addressing the Domestic Violence, Dating Violence or Stalking, or the effects of the abuse, described in such documentation; or

(iii)       A Federal, State, tribal, territorial, or local police or court record describing the incident or incidents in question.
 
(iv)       Other forms of verification as deemed acceptable by the BHA.

 

1.3       Accessibility and Plain Language

 

1.3.1    Accessible Facilities and Programs

Except as otherwise provided, no Disabled Person shall be denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination because the BHA’s facilities or programs are inaccessible to a person with a disability.[3]        

1.3.2    Plain Language Paperwork

Documents intended for use by Applicants/Participants will be presented in accessible formats for those with vision or hearing impairments and they will be written simply and clearly to enable Applicants/Participants with learning or cognitive disabilities to understand as much as possible. Requests for accommodation with respect to BHA documents that may be required in an alternative format should be made to the Authority’s Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (“TDD”) phone number, Teletypewriter (“TTY”) phone number, Office of Civil Rights, Occupancy Department, Leased Housing Division, or the Housing Service Center.
 

1.3.3    Forms of Communication other than Plain Language Paperwork

 
At the point of initial contact, BHA staff shall ask all Applicants/Participants whether they need some form of communication other than plain language paperwork. Some alternatives might include: sign language interpretation, having materials explained orally by staff, either in person or by phone, large type materials, information on tape, and having someone (friend, relative or advocate) accompany the Applicant/Participant to receive, interpret and explain housing materials. The BHA will pay for sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired.  The BHA is not required to provide individually prescribed devices or readers for personal use or study.[4]
 

1.3.4    English Language Ability

 
If an Applicant/Participant can not understand or read English, BHA staff will read and explain documents that they would normally hand to the Applicant/Participant to be read or filled out. An Applicant/Participant who cannot read or understand English may need to be provided with an interpreter who can explain any policies or procedures. The BHA will take reasonable steps to assure meaningful access by persons with limited English ability.  Such steps will include translation of common written materials into those languages frequently spoken by Applicants/Participants.

 


[1] Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the implementing regulations at 24 C.F.R. part 1; Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (as amended by the Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988); Executive Order 11063 on Equal Opportunity in Housing and the implementing regulations at 24 C.F.R. part 107; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the implementing regulations at 24 C.F.R. part 8; the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 and the implementing regulations at 24 C.F.R. part 146; and the implementing regulations at 24 C.F.R. parts 100,108,110, and 121. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the implementing regulations at 28 C.F.R. part 35 and M.G.L. Chapter 151B.

[2] See M.G.L. Chapter. 151B, § 4 and 42 U.S.C. § 3601

[3] Id.

[4] See 24 C.F.R. § 8.6(a)(1)