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April 2007

Advocating for Voucher Tenants - Special Edition

Section 8 vouchers are supposed to protect IPN’s low-income tenants.  But ever since this program began in June 2004 tenants have had problems.  Sometimes losing, without a hearing, the voucher a tenant depends on to stay in his or her home.  Removal of a voucher without a hearing is against the law – but it has happened.  While the Mayor’s Office talks about creating affordable housing, affordable housing is lost when low-income tenants lose their vouchers out of public view. 

In March, IPNTA reps and voucher tenants met with Borough President Scott Stringer and representatives from Assemblywoman Deborah Glick’s office asking for assistance in solving voucher tenants’ problems with HPD.  These problems have included missing and misplaced papers, misfiled applications, and miss-spelled names.  To make matters worse tenants cannot reach anyone at HPD on the phone or get an appointment for a time certain.   A tenant lucky enough to get an appointment can wait for hours – and then not be seen. Tenants who made mistakes on their applications had their vouchers cancelled before any hearing took place. There was no remedy accepted.

Borough President Stringer promised to call together our elected officials to ask HPD to stop treating voucher tenants so poorly and to generally improve voucher processing.  We have given him information about 30 tenants’ experiences with HPD.  If you have been denied assistance in preparing your re-certification papers, denied an opportunity to make an appointment, lost your voucher without a hearing, have a hearing scheduled and need assistance – please give your information  to IPNTA so we can pass it on to the Borough President. Leave a copy of your complete file (HPD correspondence, your summary, contact numbers for you & email) attention: V.P. Marnee May 80 N.Moore Street - Apartment 23B . Do not ring her bell. Leave in the lobby. We will contact you. This must be done immediately. In advance, you should email info@IPNTA.org to let us know to expect your file – and give a summary. No email? Leave a note in the tenant box to let us know how to reach you and what the problem is.

What Voucher Tenants Can Do

  1. Report all household income to HPD including money earned by any member of the household, even if they are not the tenants of record –  no matter how small their earnings. HPD follows HUD regulations to decide which income or assets they  consider.

  2. Failure to report all household income can result in termination of the voucher. This has happened to some of our tenants already.

  3. If HPD says that your voucher is in jeopardy, you must request an “informal hearing”  within 10 days.

  4. If after an informal hearing you have been told that your voucher is being terminated you can appeal that decision by filing an Article 78 proceeding in New York Supreme Court.  You have four months to file.  An Article 78 proceeding is a request that a judge review HPD’s decision.  A judge can overturn HPD’s decision if there is no basis in the record pursuant to HUD’s regulations to support the termination of your voucher.

  5. If you need legal assistance but cannot afford a lawyer contact Ellen B. Davidson, Legal Aid Society Civil Law Reform Unit. 199 Water Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10038, Tel: (212) 577-3339, Fax: (212) 509-8753, ebdavidson@legal-aid.org. She will decide whether she can handle or refer your case. She has already handled several cases for IPN tenants.

  6. If you can afford to pay for legal services contact our attorney Seth Miller.  The IPNTA cannot pay for such services.   Call Collins, Dobkin and Miller at (212) 587-2400 x17. Of course you can use your own attorney who has experience in housing issues.

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