Former PHA Chairperson Not Liable for Discrimination
Facts: A Section 8 resident sued the former chairperson of the local PHA’s board of commissioners. The resident claimed that the chairperson improperly allowed the director of the Section 8 program at the PHA to terminate the resident from the Section 8 program because of the resident’s race and status as a grandparent.
From 2008 to December 2012, the resident lived in a three-bedroom unit. She received vouchers for a three-bedroom unit based on information that her family composition included two grandchildren. During an annual recertification, the PHA reminded her that she needed to submit documents to confirm her income and family composition. Subsequently, the resident listed her two grandchildren as members of her family on an Application for Admission and Continued Occupancy, and the PHA sought additional documents to verify her family composition.
On Jan. 31, 2012, the PHA sent the resident a notice of its intent to terminate her participation in the Section 8 program as a result of her failure to provide documents that substantiated her claim that her family composition included two grandchildren.
During an informal hearing it was decided that the PHA would reach out to the grandchildren’s schools to obtain documents verifying whether the resident had custody of her grandchildren. However, for two grandchildren, their school informed the PHA that the resident wasn’t listed as a current guardian. The PHA determined that because she hadn’t been able to provide proof that her grandchildren had resided with her since 2008: (1) she had been overpaid on the “dependency allowance” and “rental subsidy”; (2) instead of a voucher for a three-bedroom unit, the resident was entitled to a voucher for a one-bedroom unit; and (3) the resident had to repay the PHA the overpaid amount.
At the formal hearing, the resident’s counsel represented that the resident had filed for legal custody of her grandchildren, but their parents were never around to go to court. While the resident claimed that the grandchildren used her address for school, the hearing officer noted that school documents recognized only the grandchildren’s mother and listed the mother as the emergency contact.
The resident received a Formal Hearing Determination informing her that she had 10 business days to provide a release form from the schools, doctor, and dentist of the grandchildren, so that the PHA could verify whom they recognized as the grandchildren’s guardian and their place of residence for the years 2008 until 2012, as well as copies of the signed and dated tax returns for the parents of the children from 2008 to 2011 to establish who claimed the children as dependents. The letter also informed the resident that she would be terminated from the Section 8 program unless she entered into a repayment agreement for the overpaid amount of $21,720.
Subsequently, the resident’s Section 8 program participation was terminated because she never provided the requested documents or entered into the repayment agreement. The former chairperson asked the court for a ruling without a trial in her favor.
Ruling: A Connecticut district court granted the chairperson’s request.
Reasoning: The court ruled that there wasn’t sufficient evidence in the record that could show that the former chairperson had personal involvement in the termination of the resident’s participation in the Section 8 program. She wasn’t present at the informal hearing or at the formal hearing. And nothing in the record suggested that the hearing officer at the formal hearing informed the former chairperson of his decision or that he consulted with the chairperson.
In addition, the formal hearing determination letter shows that discrepancies existed with respect to the documents the resident submitted to substantiate her claim that her grandchildren lived with her from 2008 to 2012. The resident has offered no evidence that could show that the PHA or the chairperson discriminated against her because she was a grandparent by requiring documents to substantiate her family composition from 2008 to 2012.
- Younger v. Hanks, February 2015