Eligibility Requirements

There are four factors that PHAs must consider when determining eligibility for the HCV program. These include: 

  • Family Eligibility  
  • Income Limits 
  • Student Status 
  • Citizenship Status 

In addition to the eligibility factors, there are screenings that the PHA must conduct that may result in denial of assistance including: 

  • Disclosure of Social Security Numbers and compliance with verification requirements 
  • Background screening 
  • Enterprise Income Verification (EIV) system searches

Background Screening

PHAs are required to conduct criminal background screenings to determine if any household member is subject to a lifetime sex offender registration requirement for all states in which the household members are known to have lived. PHAs are also required to obtain a criminal background check at the request of the unit owner and to utilize the Debts Owed to PHAs & Terminations Report to identify any previous evictions that are listed on HUD or the PHA’s required reasons for denial of admission. 

PHAs must ask all household members to provide a list of the states in which they have lived and whether their name appears on any lifetime sex offender registry. Law enforcement agencies may charge a reasonable fee for providing the records to the PHA. Such charges must not be passed along to the applicant family. 

PHAs must require that each adult member of the household provide a signed, written authorization for the PHA to obtain criminal conviction records from the National Crime Information Center, police departments, and other law enforcement agencies. 

Criminal records must be maintained confidentially, and the contents therein may only be disclosed to persons on a job-related need to know basis. Criminal background results, including sex offender results must not be shared directly with the unit owner, and they must be destroyed promptly once their purpose has been served. However, the PHA must retain a record of the type of screening and the date screening was performed. 

PHAs may deny admission based on criminal convictions or if the evidence indicates that a family member has engaged in such activity. PHAs are prohibited from denying admission solely based on arrest records.  

If the PHA decides to deny admission based on a criminal conviction record, the PHA must notify the family of the pending denial action and must give the family an opportunity to dispute the accuracy and/or relevance of the record. A copy of the criminal conviction record must be provided to the head of household and to the subject of the record at this time. 

PHAs are required to deny admission for the following specific types of criminal activity or alcohol abuse:  

  • A household member has been evicted from federally assisted housing within the last three years for drug-related criminal activity. 
    • The PHA may admit the family if it determines that the household member who engaged in the activity has been successfully rehabilitated, or the circumstances no longer exist (because, for example, the household member is dead or in prison). 
  •  The PHA determines that a household member is currently illegally using a controlled substance or that the abuse (or pattern of abuse) of alcohol, is determined to interfere with the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents. The PHA may consider whether such household member has taken steps to rehabilitate or has been rehabilitated and is no longer engaging in the illegal use of a controlled substance or abuse of alcohol. 
  • Any household member has been convicted of the manufacture of methamphetamine on the premises of federally assisted housing.  
  • Any household member is subject to a lifetime sex offender registration requirement.  
    • The PHA must check for sex offender registration in its own state and in any other state where the family has resided. Use of a nationwide database is recommended.

PHAs may establish policies that are stricter than the regulatory requirements listed above, so long as those policies do not discriminate in violation of civil rights laws. PHA policies may not be more lenient than those specified above. 

Additional PHA Discretionary Admission Criteria

PHAs must establish local policies concerning denial of assistance to applicants for the following reasons:  

  • The family has violated program obligations.  
  • Any family member evicted from federally assisted housing within the past 5 years.  
  • Any PHA has ever terminated assistance for any family member under the voucher program. 
  • Any member of the family has committed fraud, bribery, or any other corrupt or criminal act related to any federal housing program.  
  • The family currently owes rent or other amounts to the PHA or another PHA for amounts in connection with the HCV, moderate rehabilitation, or public housing programs.  
  • The family has not reimbursed any PHA for amounts paid to an owner under a HAP contract for rent, damages to the unit, or other amounts owed by the family under the lease.  
  • The family has breached an agreement with the PHA to pay amounts owed to a PHA or amounts paid to an owner by a PHA.  
  • The family has engaged in or threatened abusive or violent behavior toward PHA personnel.