Civil Unit Preserves Housing

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

John Batanchiev, Staff Attorney in the Hempstead Civil Unit recently assisted a family restore their Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) benefits and obtained a discontinuance of a nonpayment summary proceeding against the family. In March 2019, Ms. J received a Section 8 intent to terminate notice from the Town of Hempstead Department of Urban Renewal for failing to recertify. Ms. J requested an informal hearing challenging the termination, but Urban Renewal did not schedule one. Instead, Urban Renewal notified Ms. J that her Section 8 voucher would be terminated claiming she had failed to request an informal hearing in a timely manner. This notice prompted Ms. J to contact Nassau Suffolk Law Services. To make matters worse, Ms. J received a notice from her landlord that she was behind on her rent. After investigating the issue, Batanchiev determined that the vast majority of the rent arrears, approximately $16,000, was Section 8’s portion of the rent going back months before the original termination notice. Batanchiev wrote to Urban Renewal challenging the Section 8 termination on the grounds that Ms. J made her request for an informal hearing in a timely manner. Batanchiev high-lighted that Urban Renewal failed to comply with its own administrative plan, which allows Section 8 participants to request an informal hearing within 10 business days of receipt of the notification of termination, not from the issuance of the notification. The letter also made Urban Renewal aware that its failure to continue to pay the rental subsidies until an in-formal hearing decision was unlawful. It further requested that the rental subsidies be rein-stated until an informal hearing decision and demanded that the rental subsidy arrears be paid to Ms. J’s landlord. By failing to make these payments, Urban Renewal was violating Ms. J’s procedural due process as well as HUD regulations. When Urban Renewal still refused to schedule an informal hearing, Batanchiev wrote to the HUD representative overseeing Urban Renewal. The letter alerted HUD to the procedural due process violations and requested intervention directing Urban Renewal to issue the rental subsidies and arrears to Ms. J’s landlord. At the same time, Ms. J’s landlord served her with a non-payment summary proceeding petition alleging non-payment of both Ms. J and Urban Renewal’s portion of the rent. Ba-tanchiev contacted the landlord’s attorney to make them aware that he was waiting on a decision from HUD on Ms. J’s termination, that Ur-ban Renewal was responsible to continue the rental subsidies to the landlord, and that Ms. J was only responsible for her portion of the rent and not Urban Renewal’s rental subsidies. Fortunately, Urban Renewal finally reinstated Ms. J’s Section 8 voucher and resumed paying rental subsidies and arrears to the landlord. The non-payment summary proceeding was ultimately discontinued once Urban Renewal’s portion was paid to the landlord.

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