Community Post

SHA proposed changes to Section 8 eligibility

I received an email about the proposed changes the Seattle Housing Authority wants to make regarding applicant eligibility. I am really at a loss to understand the merits of lowering the requirements. This will allow a wide variety of individuals with past criminal histories into the Section 8 voucher program much sooner. While there may be a cost savings I don’t think this has been very well thought through. There will be a greater impact on all of our neighborhoods and our safety.

In my little corner of the Central District, just north of the I-90 lid, we have a great deal of difficulty with SHA and Section 8 tenants. No not every one of them, most are quiet and want a nice place to live. Just some of them and we suffer a lot because of these individuals.

SHA has set a time and a place for the public to come and hear the various views on this issue and I think I will be attending this meeting.

Below is the copy of the e-mail I received.


Subject: Community Meeting on Section 8 Eligibility-March 20th
I would like to invite you to a community meeting hosted by Seattle Housing Authority (SHA).
Seattle Housing Authority is considering new screening criteria with respect to criminal history information for applicants to the Housing Choice Voucher program (also known as Section 8). The Housing Authority is proposing to change the criminal background criteria to be less stringent with respect to an applicant’s history of convictions. Currently SHA requires a variable waiting period after an applicant has been released from incarceration. This waiting period has ranged from 20 years for homicide to two years for burglary or criminal assault. The Seattle Housing Authority is proposing to change this waiting period to a uniform time of 12 months. This is the standard currently in use by King County Housing Authority, and would increase efficiency by instituting a uniform standard allowing families with vouchers the opportunity to move between the two housing authorities jurisdictional areas. Another goal of the proposed changes is to support the regional efforts of Committee to End Homelessness/King County in breaking the cycle of homelessness.
The new criteria would not affect the standards used to decide whether applicants are suitable to live in housing owned or operated by Seattle Housing Authority. People who received vouchers generally rent from private landlords, who would still have the ability to apply their own screening criteria to tenants.
Attached is a one page document with further information about the proposed changes.
At this meeting SHA will review the proposed changes and take questions and comments.
Meeting details:
Date: March 20th
Time: 6:30-8:00 pm
Location: Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 S Alaska Street, Seattle 98118

Lisa Cipollone-Wolters
Director of Housing Advocacy & Rental Assistance Programs
PorchLight, Seattle Housing Authority
907 N.W. Ballard Way, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98107-0439
[email protected]

0 thoughts on “SHA proposed changes to Section 8 eligibility

  1. A paragraph in the attachment, but not in the letter you received:
    “The suggested new criteria will continue to conform to regulations stipulated by the U. S.
    Department of Housing and Urban Development. These regulations currently mandate denials of
    applicants for certain past criminal activity. For example, SHA would continue to deny Housing
    Choice Vouchers to applicants who have been involved in methamphetamine production, a
    consistent pattern of violent behavior and other serious crimes.”

    I’m curious? Would a murder conviction that used to mandate a 20 year wait now have the new standard waiting period, or would it be deemed one of those ‘serious’ crimes and an outright denial?

    Probably worth studying HUD and King County because they might be better and more consistent standards than Seattle has now. Or maybe not.

  2. It is my understanding that after one year of being released from lockup a murderer could be living next to you, if they change these regulations. It would seem Seattle does have higher standards for who is currently allowed into the SHA voucher program. I am not in any way convinced lowering the standards to meet King County is in the best interest of the people of Seattle.