NYCHA sent thousands of false Section 8 termination notices

Housing authority blames technical glitch for letters that frightened tenants

NYCHA Chair Greg Russ (NYCHA, iStock)
NYCHA Chair Greg Russ (NYCHA, iStock)

The New York City Housing Authorities has been sending tenants into a panic with erroneous notices saying their Section 8 subsidy would be cut off.

NYCHA sent the incorrect termination notices between August and March, The City reported. The letters were sent because NYCHA employees believed tenants didn’t submit paperwork to recertify income and household status, when the real cause was a NYCHA computer glitch.

Officials believe the bug stemmed from the upgrade of a scanning system to improve the authority’s computerized system.

NYCHA informed tenants that their documents hadn’t been received, despite numerous attempts by many to submit the required paperwork. Section 8 tenants are required to recertify every six months, versus every year for tenants receiving the traditional public housing subsidy.

“I couldn’t sleep,” Rev. Roberto Feliciano told The City about receiving a termination notice. “I started thinking I’m going to end up in the street with my wife.”

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A NYCHA spokesperson estimated 2,200 Section 8 households received an incorrect termination notice, and 300 public housing households and 450 applicants were affected by related scanning delays. NYCHA has mailed 32,000 letters of apology.

The problem remains unfixed, so NYCHA has suspended terminations related to Section 8 recertifications.

In early April, NYCHA estimated recertification would resume at the start of May. Now it’s saying early July.

The screwup was ill-timed, coming as NYCHA moves tens of thousands of public housing tenants into the Section 8 system. The switch is part of the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, in which renovation and management of entire developments is turned over to private companies.

NYCHA plans on seeking proposals for technology upgrades, vowing that “residents will be engaged in the requirements, design and testing process for the new system.”

[The City] — Holden Walter-Warner