Option 1: Review denial of admission.

For all HUD and USDA housing programs, if you are denied admission, the PHA or owner must send a written notice of the denial. Note: Even if you win your appeal, you are not guaranteed housing assistance as you may still be denied on other grounds.

  • The notice must include the basis for making the denial and information about how to appeal the decision.
  • It is supposed to be specific about what prompted the denial, which should help the applicant prepare documents for an appeal.
  • If it is not specific, you should seek clarification from the housing provider ahead of your hearing.
    • If you are applying for a vacant Public Housing or Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance unit, you can also request that the office holds the unit open pending the outcome of your appeal.

    Option 2: Determine if appeal is allowed.

    Hosing providers for the following programs are required to hear appeals:

    • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher
    • Public Housing
    • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance
    • USDA rental programs

    Housing providers for the following programs are not required to hear appeals:

    • HOME
    • Shelter Plus Care
    • Supportive Housing for the Elderly and Disabled Persons
    • Housing Opportunity for People with AIDS (HOPWA)
      • These programs either serve homeless persons shelter needs or in the case of HOME and HOPWA, are almost always used together with other federal funding that allows an appeal of denial.
    • Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)
      • Although this program does not have an official appeal process, you should inquire with the property manager, if they did not describe the appeal process in the application.

    Option 3: Request appeal.

    • If denied for HUD or USDA housing programs, you are entitled to a review of the admission decision.
      • This review can also be called a grievance, and informal review, an informal hearing, a hearing or a meeting. In any case, it is usually very informal, must involve a hearing officer who was not the person to make the decision denying assistance and includes the right to present evidence supporting your case.
      • The review process is slightly different for HUD and USDA housing programs.

    For HUD Programs

    • The housing authority or owner has the burden of showing that the applicant's criminal record contains items that show the applicant is likely to pose a danger to the safety of other residents or staff and their enjoyment of the premises.
    • The PHA must make that determination in the framework of its criminal history evaluation criteria, which are available to applicants in the PHAs Administrative Plan.
    • The applicant has the burden of showing either that the criminal records in question are not accurate or that there are mitigating circumstances, such as commitment to rehabilitation, clean probation record, steady employment or involvement in a social services program.
    • You may appear with legal counsel or an advocate, and can also bring others who can speak on your behalf as witnesses regarding progress since the conviction or incarceration.
      • The hearing should be confined strictly to the items included in the notice of denial. Otherwise, there is no way for an applicant to properly prepare for the hearing.
      • For persons who may have difficulty affording legal counsel, there are legal aid offices in every state that help low-income persons. You can search for a legal aid office near you here.

    For USDA Programs

    • The owner must offer to meet informally with the applicant within 10 calendar days to resolve the grievance.
    • The applicant and owner may jointly agree on a single hearing officer, or they may have a three-person panel, with one selected by the applicant, one by the owner and the third chosen by the two other panel members.
    • If the meeting does not resolve the grievance, both the owner and the applicant must submit informal meeting summaries to USDA.
    • If a formal hearing is still desired by the applicant at that time, the applicant has to submit a written request for a formal hearing within 10 calendar days of submitting the informal meeting summary.
    • USDA will select a hearing panel and the formal hearing will be held within 15 days of the hearing panel's selection.

    For Both HUD and USDA Programs

    • Applicants must receive a written decision within a reasonable period of time.
    • The written decision must include the reasons for the decision and describe the evidence used to make that decision.
    • USDA decisions are binding except in limited circumstances, but HUD decisions can be challenged in either state or federal court seeking a more exacting review.