What Felonies Disqualify You From Section 8?

What felonies disqualify you from Section 8? To get Section 8 housing assistance with a felony, you must meet the criminal background criteria set by the federal government and your local public housing authority (PHA).

The criteria set by the federal government apply equally across the country, while each local public housing authority sets its own acceptance standards for individuals with criminal convictions.

What Felonies Disqualify You From Section 8?

These Felonies Are Permanently Disqualifying For Section 8

What Felonies Disqualify You From Section 8?

The federal government provides funding for Section 8 programs via the Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Section 8 covers:

  • The Public Housing program
  • Project-Based housing
  • The Housing Choice Voucher program

HUD specifies two types of felony convictions that will result in a permanent ban on admission to these programs. These are:

  1. Individuals convicted of manufacturing/producing methamphetamine on the premises of federally assisted housing
  2. Sex offenders subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a state sex offender registration program

If your felony is for a different type of offense, you won’t be permanently disqualified from Section 8 housing assistance under federal rules, but you may be temporarily disqualified under the rules established by your local public housing authority.

Can You Get Section 8 With A Drug Felony?

Can You Get Section 8 With A Drug Felony?

First, let’s cover the federal rules.

HUD requires public housing authorities to establish admission standards regarding illegal drug use.

These standards must prohibit admission to housing assistance programs if a person:

  1. Is currently engaged in illegal drug use
  2. Has a pattern of drug use that could threaten the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents

If your felony conviction was related to the use of illegal drugs, your PHA may require proof that you completed a treatment program or are currently in a treatment program.

For other drug-related felonies and non-drug-related felonies, PHAs have broad discretion to set their acceptance policies.

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Drug-Related Felonies And Fair Housing Laws

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for landlords and public housing authorities to refuse to make reasonable accommodations to their rules or policies when an accommodation may be necessary to prevent discrimination based on disability.

HUD recognizes that drug addiction is a disability.

If your felony drug conviction was due to drug addiction, you have the right to request a reasonable accommodation exception to public housing authority policies that bar admission to applicants with criminal convictions.

A reasonable accommodation exception cannot cover current illegal drug use. Participants in a drug treatment program who are receiving prescribed medication or therapy may request a reasonable accommodation exemption.

What Criminal Charges Disqualify You From Section 8

What Criminal Charges Disqualify You From Section 8

Each public housing authority is free to set its own admission standards. While criminal background screening policies vary, public housing authorities frequently restrict admission to applicants with criminal backgrounds.

Your local housing authority website should provide a list of disqualifying criminal offenses and other eligibility criteria.

In most cases, criminal offenses aren’t permanently disqualifying and each offense listed will specify the applicable disqualification period. Disqualifying periods typically range from 6 months to 5 years, although longer bans are possible.

Disqualifications based on criminal convictions apply to every adult who will be living in your household. All adults in your household, age 16 and over, must pass a criminal background check during the Section 8 application process.

Public housing authorities may prohibit individuals with recent convictions for:

  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Violence (including domestic violence)
  • Use, manufacture, or sale of illegal drugs
  • Sex offenses
  • Theft
  • Fraud and housing-related crimes
  • Arson
  • Probation or parole violations

To find out if your felony conviction is disqualifying, and how long the disqualification applies, check with your local public housing authority, or contact a housing rights group in your area.

The free United Way helpline at 2-1-1 will connect you with your local housing rights group. You can also find local housing rights resources by entering your zip code on the 211 website at: https://www.211.org/about-us/your-local-211.

Criminal Background Screening Mitigating Factors

The criminal background screening is an individualized assessment. When an offense is disqualifying, evidence of rehabilitation will be considered to determine your eligibility for housing assistance.

Rehabilitation shows that you’ve made positive changes which can include:

  • Securing employment
  • Attending college or vocational training
  • Participating in a treatment program

It’s your responsibility to present mitigating evidence to the PHA at the time of your background screening. Acceptable evidence showing you will be a responsible tenant includes letters from your:

  • Probation or parole officer
  • Tutor
  • Social worker
  • Treatment program official
  • Employer
  • Current or former landlord

Section 8 Waiting Lists Are Common

Section 8 Waiting Lists Are Common

Waiting lists for Public Housing, Project-Based housing, and the Housing Choice Voucher program can be very long. In many areas, renters remain on waiting lists for several years.

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition reports that while the median waiting list time is 1.5 years, 25 percent of open PHA waiting lists have a wait time of at least 7 years.

Depending on where you live, by the time you reach the top of the waiting list, the disqualification period for your felony offense may be over.

Let The PHA Determine Your Eligibility

Put in a housing assistance application even if you think your felony is currently disqualifying.

  1. The disqualification could expire while you’re on the waiting list
  2. Mitigating factors showing your rehabilitation will be considered when your background screen is carried out
  3. The rules on disqualifying criminal backgrounds could change while you’re on the waiting list

If the PHA does disqualify you, you can challenge their decision by requesting an informal hearing.

The hearing is a chance to present evidence and witnesses proving you’ll be a good tenant who won’t commit crimes in the future. Your attorney or a housing rights advocate can accompany you to the hearing.

Related Article: Can A Felon Live With Someone On Section 8?