Housing Authority Can Terminate Section 8 Assistance
Facts: A former resident sued the local housing authority for allegedly violating her due process rights when it terminated her Section 8 assistance after an informal hearing. The hearing officer found that the resident’s husband had been living as an unauthorized occupant in her unit while she was receiving assistance.
The resident claimed that she was denied the opportunity to present evidence at the hearing and that the decision ultimately made by the hearing officer wasn’t supported by evidence. The investigator had submitted six police reports showing that the resident and her husband had cohabitated. But five of the reports were issued before the resident began receiving assistance.
The resident pointed to statements made by the hearing officer at the informal hearing as evidence of bias. The officer found that the resident had submitted an “illegal lease” as evidence at the hearing and questioned her about her termination from the Section 8 housing assistance program years earlier. The resident claimed that the hearing officer “assumed” that the resident was in violation when the hearing officer asked her why she violated the program’s rules. Specifically, the hearing officer asked the resident why, after she was informed of the program’s rules, she “still didn’t follow the program” and violated the rules again.
The housing authority asked the court for a judgment in its favor without a trial.
Ruling: A South Carolina district court granted the housing authority a judgment without a trial in its favor.
Reasoning: The court ruled that there was no evidence to reasonably suggest the hearing officer had a financial interest in the outcome of the hearing or had been the target of the resident’s personal abuse or criticism. At most, the court concluded, the evidence highlighted by the resident showed a lack of credibility assigned to the resident by the hearing officer, prompted by the evidence the resident submitted, as well as by the resident’s testimony and conduct at the hearing.
Also, the court found that the evidence presented at the hearing was substantial. On the issue of whether the resident and her husband lived at the same address, the police reports were reasonably reliable. In addition, the reports weren’t the only evidence the officer relied upon. The housing authority’s investigator could find no other permanent living quarters for the husband.
- Pickett v. Housing Authority of the City of Myrtle Beach, January 2013