Tenants who reside in Section 8 housing must certify to their household income every year, because the rent is based on the income. A recent case addressed a termination of eligibility for Section 8 due to willful misrepresentation on the application, coupled with the defense that the misrepresentation was due to the tenant’s severe depression and thus required an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In the recent non-precedential Appellate Division decision of T.A. v. Dept. of Community Affairs, the termination of Section 8 eligibility was affirmed.
Ms. T.A. held a Section 8 rental assistance voucher, and her 2 adult daughters lived with her. In her annual recertification, both she and the daughters falsely certified that there was no household income when, in fact, both daughters were employed. Federal law requires the agency to do appropriate cross-matches to verify the income information which is submitted. It was then learned that the household had earned income. Accordingly, T.A. received a termination notice. She requested a Fair Hearing before an Administrative law judge. The false statements were conceded. However, she claimed she was entitled to an “accommodation” for her debilitating depression. The Judge found that T.A. was well aware that her daughters were working and the statements were willfully false. As a fact matter, the ALJ found that T.A. had never given notice to the Agency that she required any accommodation based on her depression, and further, the ALJ found that such depression was not a valid justification for failure to report the income. The Appellate Division affirmed.
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