From the LRRC Case Files - Week 8
Chayala Bronstein is a receptionist who has six children and makes $29k a year. Because of her family size, Chayala has been receiving $1,500 in rental assistance every month from the Section 8 program (aka HUD) for the past five years.
At her grandmother's 90th birthday party, her grandmother announced that she had a secret to reveal. At the birth of each grandchild, she had purchased $10,000 of stocks and bonds for the child in his/her name. Over the years, the value of Chayala's stocks had grown to be worth $35,000. Chayala was shocked and thrilled. The only problem was that the stocks had been purchased in her name and may have affected the amount of Section 8 benefits she was eligible to receive over the past five years. This is an asset that she should have disclosed to Section 8. However, she had not been aware of it until now.
Question: What should Chayala do?
Answer: Contact your HUD Case Worker right away.
The first thing Chayala should do is inform HUD of her assets. Firstly, it is her responsibility to report all assets. Secondly, by failing to promptly inform HUD, it will look like she was intentionally hiding this information.
Once Chayala informs HUD of her assets, she may receive a letter demanding back-pay, which she should comply with. In the event that she receives a letter that her benefits are being terminated due to not reporting her assets accurately, she will be offered the opportunity to request a fair hearing. A fair hearing is offered by many government programs and allows a client to present his/her case to the government agency. In the event of a HUD hearing, we strongly advise that you contact our office and we will connect you with Mr. Mike McNeil, the executive director of STEPS (Solutions to End Poverty Soon). Mike is a powerful advocate and devotes himself fully to each household's case. He has a keen understanding of the players and facts involved in these hearings and has been instrumental in helping people get through these types of situations. Once contacted, Mike meets with each person in advance of their hearing with HUD and talks through the situation with them. He then generally accompanies the client to the hearing, helping them to properly represent themselves throughout the process.
Lakewood's Hidden Gem:
Mr. McNeil is a prominent figure in New Jersey public policy circles and helps thousands of people who have no one else to turn to. From battling homelessness to representing clients in Section 8 hearings to advocating for fairer housing laws to helping arbitrate in landlord/tenant court, Mike McNeil devotes his life to helping those in need.
Additionally, Mike has been instrumental in bringing affordable housing to Lakewood through the advent of Lakewood Commons. Many Lakewood families are benefiting from these inexpensive units, which were made possible through the determination and hard work of Mike McNeil and other local leaders.
When asked for one message he wants to get out to the community, Mike replies, 'We're here for everybody. No matter whom you are, what your background is or where you come from, STEPS is here to help you.'
Tips for a HUD hearing:
- Remain calm and be respectful.
- Be confident. During the hearing, you may be asked a lot of questions. Be honest and don't get thrown off by the volume of questions. As long as you stick to the truth and answer all questions honestly, you should be able to smoothly navigate your way through the process. Fumbling for an answer or muttering that you don't know the answers to their questions sends a clear signal that you are trying to hide something. Be straight, confident, and honest.
- In order to speak with an LRRC case worker regarding any housing-related matter, we require that you provide a copy of your most recent household paystubs and your most recent tax return. This will enable us to provide you with the most accurate information regarding your question. In addition, this is a funding requirement and we are unable to speak with you until we receive these documents. Please be assured that we will treat your documentation with utmost privacy.