Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Amendments Act of 1988
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SEC. 904. [42 U.S.C. 3544] PREVENTING FRAUD AND ABUSE IN HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS.
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(c) Access to State Employment Records.—
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(2) Applicant and participant protections.—(A) In order to protect applicants for, and recipients of, benefits under the programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development from the improper use of information obtained pursuant to the requirements of section 303(i) of the Social Security Act from the State agency charged with the administration of the State unemployment compensation law, officers and employees of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and representatives of public housing agencies may only use such information—
(i) to verify an applicant’s or participant’s eligibility for or level of benefits; or
(ii) in the case of an owner responsible for determining eligibility for or level of benefits, to inform such owner that an applicant’s or participant’s eligibility for or level of benefits is uncertain and to request such owner to verify such applicant’s or participant’s income information.
(B) No Federal, State, or local agency, or public housing agency, or owner responsible for determining eligibility for or level of benefits receiving such information may terminate, deny, suspend, or reduce any benefits of an applicant or participant until such agency or owner has taken appropriate steps to independently verify information relating to—
(i) the amount of the wages or unemployment compensation involved,
(ii) whether such applicant or participant actually has (or had) access to such wages or benefits for his or her own use, and
(iii) the period or periods when, or with respect to which, the applicant or participant actually received such wages or benefits.
(C) Such applicant or participant shall be informed by the agency or owner of the findings made by the agency or owner on the basis of such verified information, and shall be given an opportunity to contest such findings, in the same manner as applies to other information and findings relating to eligibility factors under the program.
(3) Penalty.—(A) Any person who knowingly and willfully requests or obtains any information concerning an applicant or participant pursuant to the authority contained in section 303(i) of the Social Security Act under false pretenses, or any person who knowingly and willfully discloses any such information in any manner to any individual not entitled under any law to receive it, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than $5,000. The term “person” as used in this paragraph shall include an officer or employee of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an officer or employee of any public housing agency, and any owner responsible for determining eligibility for or level of benefits (or employee thereof).
(B) Any applicant or participant affected by (i) a negligent or knowing disclosure of information referred to in this section or in section 303(i) of the Social Security Act about such person by an officer or employee of any public housing agency or owner (or employee thereof), which disclosure is not authorized by this section, such section 303(i), or any regulation implementing this section or such section 303(i), or (ii) any other negligent or knowing action that is inconsistent with this section, such section 303(i), or any such implementing regulation may bring a civil action for damages and such other relief as may be appropriate against any officer or employee of any public housing agency or owner (or employee thereof) responsible for any such unauthorized action. The district court of the United States in the district in which the affected applicant or participant resides, in which such unauthorized action occurred, or in which the applicant or participant alleged to be responsible for any such unauthorized action resides, shall have jurisdiction in such matters. Appropriate relief that may be ordered by such district courts shall include reasonable attorney’s fees and other litigation costs.
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[Internal Reference.—SSAct Title III heading has a footnote referring to P.L. 100-628.]