The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees the Section 8 housing program. The program provides rental assistance to low-income households, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Section 8 landlords must comply with HUD regulations, or they may face sanctions, including termination of their contract with HUD.
What Is HUD OIG Investigation?
The HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG) is responsible for investigating allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse in the Section 8 housing program. The OIG may initiate an investigation based on information received from a variety of sources, including whistleblowers, HUD staff, and the public.
OIG investigators use subpoenas to compel the production of evidence and testimony. They interview witnesses under oath about their knowledge, documents, or other evidence. Investigators make recommendations to HUD management for disciplinary action against providers who violate program rules.
What Do HUD Investigators Do?
Interview the Complainant, the Respondent, and Pertinent Witnesses
Investigators will likely want to interview the complainant, the respondent, and any witnesses who have relevant information. They will ask about the allegations and any evidence that supports or disproves them.
Investigators will review any documents that are relevant to the case. This may include contracts, invoices, bank records, emails, and other documents. The documents may support or contradict the respondent’s version of the events.
Analyze and Examine Relevant Evidence
Investigators will analyze and examine the evidence, such as witness statements and agency files, to see whether it supports or contradicts the information provided by the complainant and any other witnesses. Investigators will evaluate whether the respondent followed HUD regulations if investigating a HUD contract violation.
Analyze the Root Cause of Alleged Violations
Investigators consider whether any underlying causes led to violations. If so, they will identify steps necessary to prevent future problems and recommend corrective action for outstanding issues.
Evaluate Investigators’ Recommendations About Potential Sanctions or Disciplinary Actions Against Respondents
HUD management makes the final decision on any disciplinary actions or sanctions. The OIG makes recommendations to control, but it is up to management to decide what, if any, measures are taken.
What Kind of Complaints Does HUD Handle?
HUD handles complaints about housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity), disability (physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities), national origin (the country an individual is from; whether a person is of Hispanic origin depends on the particular program of interest), and familial status (presence of children under age 18 in the household; does not apply to housing for older persons or persons with disabilities).
HUD is authorized to investigate complaints involving Section 8 vouchers only when the complaint alleges that a person has interfered with, restrained, or denied fair housing rights (for example, by telling someone where they may not live because of their voucher status). HUD will not investigate other types of complaints about the Section 8 program, such as a tenant’s disagreement with their housing authority about the calculation of their rent subsidy or an allegation that a housing authority has failed to administer the program correctly.
Suppose you have a complaint about your Section 8 voucher. In that case, HUD will investigate if the complaint alleges that you have been discriminated against based on one of the protected characteristics listed above.
How Long Is a Section 8 Investigation?
HUD’s Section 8 voucher complaint investigation will typically take around 180 days. This time frame may be extended if the agency needs to gather more information or if the parties involved in the complaint are not cooperating with HUD’s investigation.
Once a complaint is filed, HUD will send you a notice acknowledging the receipt of your complaint. The notice may also tell you about any additional information that must be provided to complete the complaint process.
If your complaint is incomplete, the notice will explain what must be done to make it complete.
If you do not provide all of the necessary information promptly, HUD may dismiss your Section 8 voucher complaint without further inquiry. You can file another complaint after providing the missing information if this happens.
HUD will send you a letter setting forth its findings after it finishes its investigation of your Section 8 voucher complaint. Suppose the investigation finds that your rights under fair housing laws were violated. In that case, HUD will work with you and the person or institution responsible for the violation to develop a remedy.
What Are My Rights as a Complainant?
HUD does not provide legal representation to complainants in Section 8 voucher complaints. However, you do have the right to:
- file a complaint with HUD if you believe you have been discriminated against based on a protected characteristic
- receive information about the status of your complaint
- receive a copy of HUD’s investigative findings letter
- participate in any informal dispute resolution process that HUD may offer
- receive a copy of the conciliation agreement, if one is reached
- file a lawsuit in federal court if you are not satisfied with HUD’s findings or the remedy offered by HUD.
You also have the right to file a lawsuit if you are not satisfied with HUD’s resolution of your Section 8 voucher complaint. If you choose to file a lawsuit, you will be represented by the Department of Justice. The Attorney General’s office may take over your case if it feels that substantial federal interests are at stake or if there is a conflict of interest at HUD.
The Section 8 investigation process can be long and complicated. There is a lot of information that needs to be understood to file a complaint and navigate the process.
As with all legal matters, it is best to seek assistance from an attorney when filing a Section 8 investigation. However, if this isn’t possible, people can still file a complaint on their own and follow up with an attorney for assistance.