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Tenant Services

Types of Housing Subsidies Back to top 

There are several types of housing subsidies for low-income renters in Washington State. All tenants in subsidized housing are covered under the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act and many programs provide renters with additional protections above and beyond state law. The most common subsidies are Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers, Low-Income Public Housing Program, HUD Subsidized Project-Based Section 8, and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program:

To be eligible for these programs, you must have a low income (anywhere from 30-80% of area median income or less). In addition, projects often have units set aside for particular special needs households, such as families with children, domestic violence survivors, the elderly, people living with disabilities and those who are currently homeless. Most programs still screen applicants for evictions, credit, criminal backgrounds and rental history. Each specific program can provide you with a list of their eligibility criteria. Most low-income housing programs offer enhanced protections for tenants against housing loss, such as good cause termination, increased notice, and grievance hearings before benefits can be terminated.

Each program also requires tenants to regularly report changes in the household status and income, and most programs require inspections to ensure and maintain housing quality. Some buildings or units have more than one subsidy attached to them. For example, Section 8 vouchers are often accepted in tax credit subsidized buildings, and public housing units are sometimes subsidized with tax credits. There may even be more than two subsidies interacting to make the housing affordable. All rules of all programs attached to the unit’s subsidy can be enforced. Speak to an attorney for assistance if you don’t know which program rules apply in your specific situation.

Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers, Low-Income Public Housing programs and some Project-Based Section 8 programs are run by quasi-governmental agencies called Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). Some of the largest PHAs in Washington State are:

 

Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers Back to top 

 1) Program Overview

 2) Waiting List & Application Process

 3) Holding Deposits for Section 8 Tenants 

 4) Voucher Terminations

 5) Section 8 Voucher Evictions

 6) Foreclosure Protections for Section 8 Voucher Tenants

 7) Discrimination against Voucher Tenants


1) Program Overview

To Section 8 

Administered by Public Housing Authorities, the Housing Choice Voucher, also known as the Section 8 voucher program, allows tenants to take a voucher to a private landlord to secure low-income housing on the private market. Voucher tenants pay 30-40% of their income to rent and the housing authority pays the difference, up to a specific payment standard, directly to the landlord. Landlords sign a contract with the housing authority, and tenants have a lease directly with the landlord. This arrangement forms a three-way contractual agreement binding together the housing authority, tenant and landlord. Tenants are eligible for Section 8 vouchers if their income is 30% of area median income or below. HUD rules require that all members of a household be able to prove legal residency.

For a full list of HUD rules, see the HUD Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidebook. All voucher programs are also governed by the housing authority’s administrative plan. Seattle Housing Authority Section 8 Administrative Plan is one example.

Program policies require that voucher holders report changes to income and household size within 10 days to the housing authority. Other program policies require that the unit be maintained by both landlord and tenant to a set of federal Housing Quality Standards (HQS). This requires regular inspection by the PHA and compliance by the landlord. Any unit that will be rented to someone with a voucher must pass the housing authority’s HQS inspection before the voucher can be used for that unit.

Here are a few best practice tips for Section 8 voucher holders:

  • Always document your communications in writing to the housing authority. Make sure they are stamped by the PHA on the date they are received and placed into your file. You can keep copies in your own file at home as well. It can be difficult to get in touch with your case manager because they are often working with hundreds of tenants.
  • Always send copies of communications to your landlord to the housing authority. It is very important for the PHA to be aware of repair requests you make and any problems you are having with the landlord.
  • You must notify the PHA in writing of any changes to your household size or income within 10 days. Failure to do so may result in the termination of your voucher.
  • You can get access to your file at any time by making a written request to your Section 8 case manager.
  • Report to the housing authority immediately if your landlord is asking you to make side payments above and beyond the rent amount designated by the housing authority. This is fraud and the PHA can take action to protect your voucher.
  • It is also a good idea to document the condition of your unit when you move in and move out and to send copies to the housing authority to keep in your file. You may also request copies of the Housing Quality Standards inspection from the housing authority to prove the condition of your unit at move-out.
  • If the PHA decides to “abate” or hold back the portion of rent they pay to the landlord in order to get the landlord to comply with their obligations, always continue to pay your portion of the rent payment. As long as you are current in your portion of the rent, the landlord cannot evict you for nonpayment, even if the PHA’s portion is being withheld.

2) Waiting List & Application Process

To Section 8 

Waiting lists for Section 8 vouchers are extremely long. Often housing authorities are severely impacted by funding cuts and changes to the program at a federal level. You can read updated information on housing voucher policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Most PHAs only open waiting lists for vouchers every two or three years, and people are placed on the waiting list by way of a lottery system. Each housing authority has a different method and time schedule for opening and managing waiting lists; contact the PHA directly for more information. PHAs screen for tenant eligibility based on rental history, criminal background, credit and other factors. Most landlords’ screening criteria are stricter than the PHAs’ and typically, applicants must fill out applications and pay screening fees with the landlord.

3) Holding Deposits for Section 8 Tenants

To Section 8 

Section 8 tenants have particular considerations regarding deposits to hold a unit before the move in. The landlord may not withhold a deposit or fee from a Section 8 tenant if the unit fails a tenant-based rental assistance program housing inspection by a qualified inspector. The landlord may also choose to no longer hold the unit for a Section 8 renter if the housing inspection did not occur within 10 days of the collection of the fee or deposit. If the unit fails inspection, after notifying the tenant that the unit did not pass, the landlord must promptly send the tenant the refund of the deposit or fee by mail with prepaid postage.

4) Voucher Terminations

To Section 8 

A housing authority can initiate termination of a Section 8 voucher for a number of reasons, including providing misinformation, failure to report changes in income or household size, failure to pay rent or utilities, or eviction from the subsidized unit. Housing authorities may also terminate a voucher if someone moves into a unit that has Low-Income Public Housing or project-based subsidies. PHAs will usually call tenants in for pre-termination conferences in an attempt to resolve the problem before moving to termination. If you are asked to attend a pre-termination conference, present all of your documentation in writing and ask for any policies cited or agreements made by the PHA in writing as well.

Section 8 voucher holders are entitled to a grievance hearing with an unbiased decision maker, with some exceptions. Washington LawHelp has information on the Section 8 grievance process at How to Protect Your Section 8 Voucher.

  • Grievance hearings must be taken extremely seriously. Your housing is at stake, and the housing authority will make a case against you that your voucher should be terminated. If you lose your voucher, you will be required to pay the full amount of rent due on your rental agreement and will be vulnerable to eviction.
  • You can bring documentation to support your position to the hearing in the form of paperwork and written testimony from witnesses. You can also bring witnesses, advocates and legal representation with you into the hearing to support your case.
  • It is a good idea to secure legal representation to go with you into the hearing. Northwest Justice Project, Legal Action Center and the CLEAR line are the best resources for representation in subsidy terminations. See our Legal Assistance Guide webpage for information and contact information.
  • Voucher termination notices must be in writing and you must be given an opportunity to request a grievance hearing in most cases.
  • All grievance hearing requests must be in writing and must be submitted 10 days from the notice of termination. See our Sample Letter: Section 8 Hearing Request.
  • In your request, you can ask to see a copy of your file and all the information that is to be used against you at the termination hearing. This request must be made at least three days before the scheduled hearing date. The housing authority may also ask you to provide the materials you will use in your defense. This request must also be made at least three days before the hearing date.
  • If you need or want an interpreter, the housing authority will provide one at their expense. Make this a part of your written request.
  • You can also ask for the hearing to be tape recorded, and for the PHA to provide you with a copy of the tape after the hearing. They may charge you the cost of the tape.
  • You can ask to reschedule the hearing if you need more time to prepare or in order to secure legal representation. Most housing authorities require that you give them at least 24 hours’ notice and only allow you to reschedule once.
  • Survivors of domestic violence cannot lose their Section 8 vouchers as a consequence of the abuse. See Washington LawHelp's Landlord/Tenant Issues for Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and/or Stalking.
  • Section 8 tenants can also request grievance hearings for rent calculation questions, requests to add household members, or other PHA decisions. The PHA does not have to provide grievance hearings for all issues, including for tenants who are contesting PHA policy, and tenants who are contesting the PHA’s decision not to approve a unit or lease. Contact the PHA and an attorney if you are unsure whether or not you can request a grievance hearing.

5) Section 8 Voucher Evictions

To Section 8 

Section 8 voucher holders do not have any additional protections against eviction, and receive the same eviction notices and go through the same eviction process as any tenant in Washington State. It is essential that voucher tenants remain in good communication with the PHA that administers their voucher throughout the eviction process. Inform your PHA immediately if you are unable to pay your rent. Send copies of any correspondence between you and your landlord to the PHA so that they are made aware of any problems that arise between you and your landlord. PHAs have the right to terminate your voucher if you are evicted from your residence, and most often they will assert that right without question.

You can request a grievance hearing if your voucher is being terminated because of an eviction, unless you are being evicted for certain criminal offenses. If you believe you are being evicted illegally, you can raise any defenses against the voucher termination in the grievance hearing. You can bring in legal counsel to a grievance hearing as well. For a detailed discussion on grievance hearings, see How to Protect Your Section 8 Voucher. Your Section 8 voucher will likely be in jeopardy if you are evicted from your unit. Speak to an attorney for assistance if you are a Section 8 voucher holder facing eviction.

In some situations, if your landlord fails to bring your unit up to housing quality standards, the PHA may reduce their portion of rent that they pay to the landlord in an “abatement” process. As long as you are current for the potion of rent you are responsible for, the landlord may not evict you for rent nonpayment.

6) Foreclosure Protections for Section 8 Voucher Tenants

To Section 8 

New federal laws offer protections for tenants and Section 8 voucher holders who are living in properties facing foreclosure. Tenants living in foreclosed properties are entitled to 90 days’ notice following the foreclosure date, and if they are on a lease, it must be honored through the entire term unless the new owners plan to move into the unit. Even if the new owner plans to move into the unit, 90 days’ notice is still required. Also, the new owner is required to honor the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract with the housing authority to maintain the voucher. For more information, see Washington LawHelp’s I am a Tenant Living in a Foreclosed Property. What are My Rights? and Sample Letter from Section 8 Tenant to New Owners of Foreclosed Property, and read the new law directly at Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act. Be aware that this law expires December 31st, 2014.

7) Discrimination against Voucher Tenants

To Section 8 

In Seattle, unincorporated King County and Bellevue, it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against someone because of their status as a Section 8 voucher holder. Landlords in these areas cannot legally refuse to rent to someone just because they use a Section 8 voucher to pay their rent. Landlords in these areas must offer one-year leases for Section 8 voucher tenants, and cannot charge Section 8 tenants a rental rate that exceeds the rate charged to a non-Section 8 tenant. However, landlords do not have to lower their standard market rental rates to make the unit reasonably affordable to Section 8 voucher tenants. Civil rights agencies enforce these laws. Find out more information at the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, King County Office of Civil Rights and the City of Bellevue Development Services Department.

Housing advocates are currently working to change the laws so that all renters in the state are protected from discrimination based on source of income or Section 8 voucher status. If you have a story to tell about the impacts of Section 8 discrimination, and would like to get involved, call the Solid Ground Tenant Services Tenant Advocacy Line at 206.694.6748 or email tenantwa@solid-ground.org.

 

Low-Income Public Housing Back to top 

 1) Program Overview 

 2) Waiting List & Application Process

 3) Public Housing Evictions

 4) Public Housing Tenant Representation


1) Program Overview

To Public Housing 

Low-Income Public Housing (LIPH) units are owned and operated by public housing authorities (PHAs). Tenants pay 30% of their income to rent, minus applicable deductions. Units are subject to regular inspections by PHA management. Public housing tenants are also required to participate in monthly community service or self-sufficiency activities. Changes to income and household status must be reported to the housing authority within 10 days. Failure to do so may result in eviction. LIPH tenants are required to sign one-year leases. HUD rules require that all household members receiving subsidies be able to prove legal residency. Read complete HUD rules regarding public housing in the HUD Public Housing Occupancy Guidebook.

2) Waiting List & Application Process

To Public Housing 

Each PHA maintains a waiting list for public housing buildings in their area, though waiting list policies vary from housing authority to housing authority. Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) requires that all people in line for public housing check in with them monthly by phone or the web in order to remain on the waiting list. For more information, see SHA’s Save My Spot.

PHAs also screen tenants based on rental history, criminal and credit records before approving them for public housing units. If you believe you have been unfairly denied admission to a LIPH program, you can request a grievance hearing by making a request in writing within 10 days of the denial. You may want to try to secure legal representation through Northwest Justice Project, Legal Action Center or the CLEAR line. See our Legal Assistance Guide for information and contact information.

3) Public Housing Evictions

To Public Housing 

Low-Income Public Housing (LIPH) tenants may have a slightly different experience with the eviction process. In some cases, there may be different notice periods for tenants, and good cause is required to evict a tenant from public housing. However, LIPH tenants still go through the same court system and process as all tenants. The Public Housing Authority (PHA) that owns and manages your housing is responsible for following federal regulation that sets the standards for how public housing evictions are to be handled. If you are evicted from public housing, you will lose your opportunity to receive federally assisted low-income housing.

Grounds for termination of the lease in LIPH include rent nonpayment or other serious or repeated lease violations; crime that threatens health, safety or quiet enjoyment of other tenants in the building; drug-related activity on or nearby the complex; or other good cause. Evictions in public housing for rent nonpayment require 14 days’ notice, which may be given before the service of a 3-day notice to pay or vacate. In some cases, the 14-day notice to pay rent or vacate may come instead of a 3-day notice. Public housing tenants may also receive 10-day notices to comply or vacate, during which timeframe a grievance hearing may be requested. Health or safety threats require three days’ notice, and termination at the end of a lease and all other causes require 30 days’ notice for termination. It is possible that policies will differ in different PHAs. Speak to an attorney for more information and advice on your specific situation. Washington LawHelp has detailed information at Public & Subsidized Housing: What Happens If I Do Not Pay the Rent, Public Housing Evictions and Public Housing Grievance Procedure.

Grievance hearings are also required for tenants facing eviction from public housing, except in the case of drug-related activity or activity that threatens health and safety. The PHA is still required to take a tenant facing eviction through a court process. For more detailed information on eviction, see our website's Eviction Process section.

  • Grievance hearings must be taken extremely seriously. Your housing is at stake, and the housing authority will make a case against you that you should be evicted from the property.
  • You can bring documentation to support your position to the hearing in the form of paperwork and written testimony from witnesses. You can also bring witnesses, advocates and legal representation with you into the hearing to support your case.
  • It is a good idea to secure legal representation to go with you into the hearing. Northwest Justice Project, Legal Action Center and the CLEAR line are the best resources for representation in subsidy terminations. See our Legal Assistance Guide for information and contact information.
  • Eviction notices must be in writing and you must be given an opportunity to request a grievance hearing in most cases.
  • All grievance hearing requests must be in writing and must be submitted 10 days from receipt of the eviction notice. See a Sample Letter: Section 8 Hearing Request.
  • In your request, you can ask to see a copy of your file and all the information that is to be used against you at the grievance hearing. This request must be made at least three days before the scheduled hearing date. The housing authority may also ask you to provide the materials you will use in your defense. This request must also be made at least three days before the hearing date.
  • If you need or want an interpreter, the housing authority will provide one at their expense. Make this a part of your written request.
  • You can also ask for the hearing to be tape recorded, and for the PHA to provide you with a copy of the tape after the hearing. They may charge you the cost of the tape.
  • You can ask to reschedule the hearing if you need more time to prepare or in order to secure legal representation. Most housing authorities require that you give them at least 24 hours’ notice and only allow you to reschedule once.
  • Domestic violence survivors cannot lose their public housing benefits as a consequence of the abuse. See Landlord/Tenant Issues for Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and/or Stalking.
  • Public housing tenants can also request grievance hearings for rent calculation questions, requests to add household members, or other PHA decisions.

4) Public Housing Tenant Representation

To Public Housing 

LIPH tenants are entitled to the right to form tenant councils to represent themselves to the housing authority. Some PHAs have Resident Action Councils or Advisory Boards that support resident participation. Tenant councils are meant to give residents an opportunity to have their voice heard on PHA policies and procedures. Large PHAs in Washington State are required to have tenant participation on their Board of Commissioners. See the Seattle Housing Authority information on Councils & Committees.

 

HUD Subsidized Housing Back to top 

1) Program Overview

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD housing, is also known as project-based Section 8. HUD housing is multifamily complexes that are privately owned and subsidized by the federal government. HUD housing is available to people with incomes at or below 30% or 50% of the area median income, and some buildings are reserved specifically for renters living with disabilities, elderly, or people currently without a permanent address who are seeking housing. Generally, private owners hire companies to manage the properties. HUD inspections occur regularly to ensure housing quality and tenant income must be certified annually. Tenants are required to report all changes to household members and income to the management promptly. All household members receiving a subsidy are required to prove legal residency under HUD rules. You can read HUD rules directly at HUD Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs.

2) Waiting List & Application Process

Each HUD building maintains its own waiting list, and waiting list times vary from building to building. HUD properties are listed on HUD’s website at HUD Affordable Apartment Search and on Aptfinder.org. Each building has a different set of eligibility criteria, and tenants are screened for eviction records, credit, criminal background and rental history. For more information, see our Housing Search webpage.

3) HUD Housing Eviction

Tenants can be evicted from HUD housing for noncompliance with the rental agreement or tenant duties under landlord-tenant law, failure to supply information necessary to verify income, or other good cause. Landlords must follow the state law eviction process, except a tenant is entitled to 30 days’ notice when being asked to leave for other good cause.

Termination notices for tenants in HUD subsidized housing must give tenants an opportunity to request a meeting with the owner of the building. The meeting with the owner is an opportunity for the tenant to present evidence that their termination is improper. The request must be made in writing within 10 days, and an owner’s failure to notify a tenant of their rights to such a meeting could be a defense in the eviction lawsuit. Read detailed information on HUD tenants’ rights in an eviction at Washington LawHelp’s HUD Housing Evictions.

4) HUD Tenant Right to Organize

Residents of HUD subsidized housing explicitly have the legal right to organize in their buildings. This includes the right to distribute flyers and have meetings without management present. It is illegal for the landlord to retaliate against tenants living in HUD subsidized buildings who use their right to organize. Project-based tenants in Washington State also have the right to get one year’s notice if the landlord is planning on opting out of the program in order to rent the units at market rate. This gives tenant groups time to organize to preserve the long-term affordability of their building.

 

Tax Credit Properties Back to top 

1) Program Overview

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program provides housing for low- to moderate-income renters in exchange for tax credits for the developers. The LIHTC program is overseen by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

2) Waiting List & Application Process

Individual tax credit buildings maintain waiting lists and wait times vary depending on the building and the area. Individuals are screened by property ownership and management. IRS regulations specify that projects financed through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program are not required to collect social security numbers from potential residents. However, LIHTC projects still ask for social security numbers on applications and use them to determine applicants’ financial eligibility and suitability as tenants. Equivalent identification would be a Work Visa, Alien Registration Receipt Card, Temporary Resident Card, IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), or Employment Authorization Card. Failure on the part of applicants to provide social security numbers or equivalent identification could hinder or delay an LIHTC property’s ability to review their applications for housing. For more information on tenant screening, see our Housing Search webpage.

3) Tax Credit Eviction

Tenants living in tax credit buildings have good cause eviction protection statewide. LIHTC owners are prohibited from evicting residents or refusing to renew leases or rental agreements, other than for good cause. The termination notice must state good cause, and may include either a serious or repeated violation of the lease, crime or drug-related activity, or failure to vacate following a condition that leaves the unit uninhabitable. Good cause is not defined clearly enough in tax credit policy, and is determined on a case-by-case basis. The notice of termination or non-renewal of lease must include a list of the specific good cause reasons for the action. The tenant has the right to raise good cause eviction protection in court as a defense against an eviction if they believe they were evicted for non-good cause reasons. See our Eviction Process section, and speak to an attorney for more information.

 

Resources: Low-Income Housing Back to top 

 

FAQs: Low-Income Housing Rights Back to top 


Q: How do I find low-income housing?

To FAQs 

There are many resources for low-income housing in Washington State. Each program and sometimes each building have their own application process and eligibility requirements. See our Housing Search webpage for more information on how to access low-income housing and emergency shelter. Some social service agencies can connect their clients with low-income housing programs. 

Q: Can low-income housing providers not rent to me because I have 
      an eviction on my record, a criminal history or bad credit?

To FAQs 

Low-income housing providers and programs screen tenants for credit, eviction and criminal history. Although such providers can decide not to rent to tenants based on these factors, they may choose to be more lenient than landlords in the private market. This can vary based on the program and the individual tenant applying. You can inquire about screening criteria before you apply for housing to see if you qualify. See our Housing Search webpage for further information.  

Q: Can a building have more than one kind of low-income housing? 

To FAQs 

Yes. Section 8 vouchers are often accepted in tax credit subsidized buildings. Most low-income housing providers utilize tax credit subsidies and HUD subsidies to make their housing affordable. Even public housing units are sometimes subsidized with tax credits. There may even be more than two subsidies interacting to make the housing affordable. There can by layered subsidies of many kinds. All rules of all programs attached to the unit’s subsidy can be enforced. Speak to an attorney for assistance if you can’t determine which program rules apply in your specific situation.  

Q: I currently live in transitional housing. Am I covered under the
      Residential Landlord-Tenant Act?

To FAQs 

RCW 59.18.040 details the types of living arrangements exempt from coverage under landlord-tenant laws. Some of the living arrangements not covered include institutions, correctional facilities and farm-worker housing. Whether or not transitional housing facilities are covered under landlord-tenant laws will vary on a case-by-case basis. For instance, if your eligibility for transitional housing requires that you receive services from the agency providing housing, you may not be covered. Even if your housing situation is not covered under the landlord-tenant act, it does not mean that you have no legal rights. If the housing provider serves you with a 3- or 10-day notice to vacate, you are covered under the Landlord-Tenant Act. For more information, seek advice from an attorney for your specific situation. See our Legal Assistance Guide for more information. 

Q: I’m being terminated from the Section 8 program. What do I do?

To FAQs 

All voucher holders are entitled to a grievance hearing with an unbiased decision maker before termination. Grievance hearings are explained in detail above in the section on Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers. All grievance hearing requests must be in writing and must be submitted 10 days from the notice of termination. See a Sample Letter: Section 8 Hearing Request. You can bring documentation to support your position to the hearing in the form of paperwork and written testimony from witnesses. You can also bring witnesses, advocates and legal representation with you into the hearing to support your case. It is a good idea to secure legal representation to go with you into the hearing. See our Legal Assistance Guide for information and contact information. More information is available at Washington LawHelp’s How to Protect Your Section 8 Voucher 

Q: The housing authority has raised my portion of the rent for 
      reasons I don’t understand. What can I do?

To FAQs 

Section 8 Voucher tenants can ask their case worker for a copy of their files and for more detailed written explanation of how their rent was calculated. Tenants can also request grievance hearings to contest rent increases and denials of additions to add household members. See the guidelines for grievance hearings above in Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers 

Q: My landlord is asking me to pay more in rent than the housing 
      authority says I have to. Can they do that?

To FAQs 

No. It is a violation of program rules for a landlord to be charging or collecting any side payments from a tenant. Housing authorities will investigate landlords who are committing fraud. Notify the housing authority in writing about any issues you are having with your landlord as soon as possible. Some PHAs do allow tenants to pay over 40% of their income to rent after the first year in a unit, but the total tenant payment must still be agreed upon in the contract. Review your contract and contact your case worker for questions regarding the amount of rent you are responsible to pay as well as changes to your income.  

Q: What can I do if my utility allowance doesn’t cover the cost of
      my utilities?

To FAQs 

Utility allowances are calculated using a complicated system that factors in your household size, the type of utilities you have and the type of unit you live in. Unfortunately, not all units are well-insulated enough to keep utility costs down to the housing authority estimated calculations. The Section 8 program does not have funding set aside to supplement higher than anticipated utility costs, but you can apply for utility assistance to help with high bills. Some utility companies offer some form of financial assistance and some offer free weatherization for units occupied by low-income families. Your landlord may be willing to work with you to bring utility costs down by taking advantage of these programs, which are often free. Seattle’s weatherization program is called HomeWise, and the King County Housing Authority has a Housing Repair and Weatherization program for low-income renters and homeowners. There are also other utility assistance programs in Washington State. See our Renters’ Resources webpage for more information.  

Q: What can I do if I believe I was unfairly denied admission to a
      low-income housing program?

To FAQs 

Tenants denied admission to public housing can request an administrative hearing. Your request must be in writing immediately after receiving the denial. You may be able to get legal assistance through the CLEAR line or Northwest Justice Project. See our Legal Assistance Guide for more information.

Q: I’m being evicted from public housing. Am I entitled to a
      grievance hearing?

To FAQs 

Yes. Unless you are being evicted for drug-related activity or activity that threatens health and safety, the housing authority must provide tenants with an opportunity to have a grievance hearing before an unbiased decision maker. See our Low-Income Public Housing section above for more information. Washington LawHelp has detailed information at Public & Subsidized Housing: What Happens If I Do Not Pay the Rent, Public Housing Evictions and Public Housing Grievance Procedure. 

Q: I’m a full-time student. Can I apply for housing funded by
      Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC)?

To FAQs 

There must be at least one household member who is not a full-time student in the household in order to qualify for the tax credit program. There are some exceptions to this (for instance, residents on TANF, single parents and people in retraining programs). Check with the property directly to see if you qualify. 

Q: I live in a tax credit building. Can my landlord terminate
      my tenancy for no reason?

To FAQs 

Tenants living in tax credit buildings have good cause eviction protection statewide. LIHTC owners are prohibited from evicting residents or refusing to renew leases or rental agreements without good cause. The termination notice must state good cause, and may include either a serious or repeated violation of the lease, crime or drug-related activity, or failure to vacate following a condition that leaves the unit uninhabitable. Good cause is not clearly defined in tax credit policy, and is determined on a case-by-case basis. The notice of termination or non-renewal of lease must include a list of the specific good cause reasons for the action. The tenant has the right to raise good cause eviction protection in court as a defense against an eviction if they believe they were evicted for non-good cause reasons. See our Eviction Process section, and speak to an attorney for more information. 

Q: Do I have to give a social security number when applying for LIHTC?

To FAQs 

IRS regulations specify that projects financed through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program are not required to collect social security numbers from potential residents. However, LIHTC projects still ask for social security numbers on applications and use them to determine applicants’ financial eligibility and suitability as tenants. Equivalent identification would be a Work Visa, Alien Registration Receipt Card, Temporary Resident Card, IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), or Employment Authorization Card. Failure on the part of applicants to provide social security numbers or equivalent identification could hinder or delay an LIHTC property’s ability to review their applications for housing. For more information on tenant screening, see our Housing Search webpage. 

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