The Most Northeastern City in the United States.

Program Integrity Q&A

Caribou Municipal Building
25 High St
Caribou, Maine 04736
Lisa Plourde, Executive Director
Sue Ouellette, FSS/Homeownership
Phone: (207) 493-4234
Fax: (207) 376-0178
E-mail: housing@cariboumaine.org

 

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The Caribou Housing Agency has moved!  We are now located on the first floor of the Caribou Municipal Building.

Equal Housing Opportunity

Why Catching Program Violations and Fraud is Important

The federal government allocates a fixed amount of funds to the Housing Agency with which it is to provide rental assistance to as many families as possible. When a participating family receives more rental assistance than it is due, those additional rental assistance funds are not available to assist another family.

Each family is asked to spend approximately 30% of its income towards its rent. This is a reasonable amount to be asked to pay, few families on the private market pay so small a percentage of their income for rent.

By misrepresentation, not declaring income or otherwise engaging in program violations, the person doing so is not only cheating tax payers and the federal government, he or she is cheating another low income family out of assistance.

The vast majority of families currently receiving rental assistance, as well as many thousands of families on the waiting list, are honest, adhere to the rules and appreciate their rental assistance when they receive it.

If you suspect a program violation or fraud is happening, you are encouraged to report it to the Caribou Housing Agency.

What are Program Violations and Fraud?

Some misconceptions about the Section 8 HCV program lead people to assume program violation or fraud is occurring when it is not. Families do not have to be on welfare to qualify for the program; in fact, families are encouraged to work, increase their income and eventually move off the program.

People who live together as a stable household but are not married are eligible for the program, as are families without children, single people, the elderly and persons with disabilities.  However, all people living in the household and the income of all people in the household must be reported to the Housing Agency promptly.

Some examples of program violations or fraud by a program participant or tenant:

  • Misstatements of facts
  • Omission of facts
  • Making false statements
  • Lying on personal declaration forms
  • Failure to comply with program requirements.
  • Failure to report all income and/or assets.
  • Falsifying document and/or signatures.
  • Failure to report promptly changes in income or household composition.
  • Allowing additional people to live in the home without approval from the Housing Agency and landlord.
  • Subleasing all or part of the rental unit.
  • Paying more rent to the landlord than the amount stated on the Tenancy Addendum to the Lease (also called “side payments”).
  • Charging a live-in aide rent.
  • Committing a serious criminal act.
  • Owning or having a financial interest in the rental unit.

Some examples of program violations or fraud by a landlord:

  • Collecting additional payments from the family beyond that stated in the Tenancy Addendum to the lease (also called “side payments”).
  • Accepting Housing Assistance payments for a vacant unit.
  • Living in the same rental unit as the program participant.

How violations and fraud are investigated

The Housing Agency has many sources and investigative methods at its disposal. Friends and neighbors may be interviewed or surveillance of activities undertaken.

Government data bases that provide records of income, assets, places of residence, criminal background and other information may also be used.

The Housing Agency also works closely with law enforcement and other public agencies to conduct joint investigations and cooperates fully in criminal and civil prosecutions.

Penalties for Committing Program Violations and Fraud

Penalties range from losing rental assistance to prosecution and imprisonment. Violators may be fined and also be required to repay all overpaid rental assistance.

Under the Section 8 program, if a violation is determined, the Housing Authority might stop rental assistance but the landlord may allow the violator to remain in the rental unit. The Housing Agency cannot evict or remove the violating family from the home, only the landlord may evict.

Reporting Program Fraud and Violations

By phone: information may be given confidentially by calling the Caribou Housing Agency at (207) 493-4230.

Electronically: a report may also be made confidentially via this web site by completing the Program Violation Reporting Form. This form goes directly from the web site to the Program Integrity Officer.

In writing: the Program Violation Reporting Form can also be printed from the web site and mailed to, or dropped off at, the Caribou Housing Agency, 25 High Street, Caribou ME  04736.

Confidentiality

All reports of program violations and fraud are held in strict confidence.

Based on information received confidentially, the Caribou Housing Agency will undertake an independent investigation and will not reveal the name of the person providing the information. If the Housing Agency finds that a case cannot be proven without using information that would reveal the identity of the informant, the Housing Agency will contact the informant for permission to use identifying information.  If permission is not given, the informant’s name will not be used but the case may not be able to go forward.

Because of confidentiality requirements, the Housing Agency will not be able to make any statements regarding the status of investigations or results.  Investigations, then the process of termination and/or prosecution can be lengthy; it should not be assumed that no action is being taken simply because the family remains in the home.