Citizenship Requirements at HUD-Assisted Sites

Last week’s Pop Quiz posed a question about when you can reject applicants who aren’t U.S. citizens without risking fair housing trouble. The answer was when being a U.S. citizen is required for leasing property under HUD program rules and/or state or local law. But Gwen Volk, president of Gwen Volk INFOCUS, Inc., warns, “That answer may be a bit misleading and cause managers of Section 8 properties to conclude that you have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify.”

Volk explains that HUD’s noncitizen rule applies only to Section 8, Section 236, Rent Supp,* and RAP* properties. To be eligible to reside in these properties a family must need assistance. The noncitizen rule is focused on eligibility to receive assistance. All members of a family applying to these properties must declare their status as one of the following:

  1. A U.S. citizen or national; or
  2. An eligible noncitizen (as verified through the SAVE system/Department of Homeland Security); or
  3. A person who does not contend eligible immigration status.

Persons in categories 1 and 2 are eligible to receive assistance. Persons in category 3 who are members of a household that includes persons in categories 1 and/or 2 are not eligible to receive assistance but can reside with the family. HUD calls such a family a “Mixed Family,” meaning it includes a member or members who are eligible for assistance and a member or members who are not. The income of the family member who does not claim and/or is not able to verify eligibility for assistance is included in determining income eligibility and in calculating the tenant rent. The full amount of subsidy is then prorated so that only the family members who are eligible are assisted. So, for example, if the family has three members—one who is a citizen, one who is an eligible noncitizen, and one who is not eligible for assistance—the family will receive only two-thirds of the housing assistance calculated and will pay a greater share of the rent, explains Volk.

This rule does not apply to the HUD programs listed below. Per the HUD Handbook 4350.3, “At these properties, individuals who do not contend eligible immigration status must sign a certification, containing the penalty of perjury clause, certifying to that effect. The certification will support the individual not being subject to the requirements to disclose or provide verification of a SSN.” The eligibility of the individual to reside in the unit and to receive subsidy is not affected by their status, explains Volk. If all other eligibility criteria are met, they can reside in the property and receive assistance.

  • Section 221(d)(3) BMIR properties;
  • Section 202 PAC;
  • Section 202 PRAC;
  • Section 811 PRAC; and
  • Section 202 with units not assisted by Section 8.

We thank Gwen Volk for her clarification of this issue.

*As of 2023, Rent Supplement and RAP properties have all been converted to PBRA or PBV through the RAD program and are now essentially “Section 8 properties”; we list them because they are listed in the HUD Handbook.