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The Community Service Requirement in Public Housing

Authored By: Georgia Legal Services Program® LSC Funded

Information

What You Need to Know about the Community Service Requirement in Public Housing

Susan Reif
Georgia Legal Services Program
Last Revised: December 2003

Unless exempt, each public housing resident will now be required to perform 8 hours per month of community service OR participate in economic self-sufficiency activities OR some 8 hour combination of the two. Community service is defined as the performance of voluntary work or duties that are a public benefit, and that serve to improve the quality of life, enhance resident self-sufficiency, or increase resident self-responsibility in the community. Community service is not employment and may not include political activities. Stay-at-home parents are not exempt unless they are in one of the exempt groups described below. The PHA is not required to provide child care or transportation for person's performing community service.

Who Is Exempt from the Community Service Requirement?

1. Household members under 18

2. Household members 62 or older

3. Household members engaged in work activities which include: Unsubsidized employment, Subsidized private-sector employment, Subsidized public-sector employment, Work experience if sufficient private sector employment is not available, On-the-job-training, Job-search and job-readiness assistance, Community service programs, Vocational educational training (not to exceed 12 months with respect to any individual), Job-skills training directly related to employment, Education directly related to employment in the case of a recipient who has not received a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalency, Satisfactory attendance at secondary school or in a course of study leading to a certificate of general equivalence, in the case of a recipient who has not completed secondary school or received such a certificate, The provision of childcare services to an individual who is participating in a community service program. The number of hours a person must be engaged in work activities to satisfy this requirement will be determined by each PHAs and based on local circumstances.

4. Household members who are blind or disabled and who certify that because of their disability she or he is unable to comply with the Community Service Requirement. Disabled is given the definition used by the Social Security Administration.

5. The household member who is the primary caretaker of a blind or disabled individual who certifies unable to comply with the CSR

6. A person meeting the requirements for exemption from work activity under state TANF program or any other state welfare or welfare-to-work program in the same location as the PHA. This applies to anyone whose characteristics or family situation meets the welfare agency exemption criteria and can be verified, even if they are not participating in the state welfare program. The PHA will not determine if the tenant satisfies an exemption category. The PHA's will look to welfare agencies for such a determination.

7. A person receiving "assistance, benefits or services" under a state welfare program or any other state welfare or welfare-to-work program. In determining whether a tenant is exempt under this work requirement, the PHA cannot rely on the tenant' receipt of TANF. The PHA must verify with the welfare agency that the tenant is complying with the welfare program's work activities requirement.

Verification of Community Service

Tenants should always keep their own record of the community service hours they perform. The PHA can operate its CSR in two ways. The PHA may provide CSR activities directly or contract with another group, partner or community or resident group. If a third-party administers the CSR program, the tenant must provide the PHA with verification signed by the group that the tenant performed the community service. However, the PHA, as part of its duty to verify compliance, must obtain verification from the third party at least once a year. At a minimum, the housing authority must:

1. Have a written policy identifying individuals exempt from the CSR and containing a process for tenants to follow when they seek to change from nonexempt to exempt;

2. Provide each tenant with a written description of the CSR requirement explaining how a tenant can claim an exemption and what verification the PHA requires;

3. Provide notice to each household stating which family members must preform community service and those who are exempt and do not have to perform community service;

4. Review each household's compliance 30 days before the end of the tenant's lease term and at least annually obtain verification of community service performed from third parties when the PHA did not operate the CSR program.

What If a Tenant Fails to Satisfy the CSR?

Failure to perform community service is not a ground for termination during the lease term. Failure to perform community service will result in the tenant's lease not being renewed at the end of its 12-month term. When the PHA determines that a family member has not performed their community service, the head of household will be given notice which:

1. Describes the noncompliance, such as identifying how many hours were not performed;

2. States the PHA's intent not to renew at the end of lease term unless:

- both the head of household and the noncompliant family member must enter a written agreement to cure with the PHA AND the family member follows the agreement

OR

- the family provides "written assurance satisfactory to the PHA" that the household member who failed to perform community service has moved and no longer lives in the unit;

3. Informs the tenant of their right to use the grievance procedure and the right to take judicial action to address non-renewal.

In the agreement to cure the household member who failed to perform their community service during the past year agrees to perform community services in the future plus the household member must agree to work additional hours each month to make up the unworked CSR hours remaining under the old lease. The unsatisfied hours remaining under the old lease are spread over the 12 months of the new lease term.

The Grievance Procedure Can Be Used to Challenge Decisions about the CSR

If a tenant disagrees with Housing Authority's decision about how the community service requirement applies to them or their family, they can use the grievance procedure to resolve their dispute. The tenant needs to make a request either in writing or orally at the Housing Authority's office or at their site office.

The request must be made within a reasonable time from the action the tenant contests, no longer than 30 days. The request must: state what the tenant contests or disagrees with, request an informal meeting, and provide the tenant's name and address and telephone number and the same name, address and telephone number of their attorney, if they have one.

The first step is an informal meeting, an initial discussion to resolve the grievance. Within 5 working days from that meeting, the tenant should receive a written summary of the meeting which contains the PHA's decision on what action it will take and why, the names of the persons at the meeting, the date of the meeting and how a formal hearing can be requested.

If the tenant is not satisfied with the decision from the informal meeting, she has 10 working days from the date of the informal meeting summary to request a formal hearing. The formal hearing must be requested in writing either to the Housing Authority office or the tenant's site office. The request must state the reason for the requests and what the tenant wants the housing authority to do.

For more details on the Housing Authority's grievance procedure, please ask your apartment manager for a copy of the "grievance procedure" or where the grievance procedure is posted.

Susan Reif
Georgia Legal Services Program
Last Revised: December 2003

Last Review and Update: Jun 14, 2002