PHA Can Evict Current Drug User
Facts: A resident was arrested near her apartment complex and later charged with possession of cocaine and resisting law enforcement officers. Three weeks later, the PHA sent the resident a “Notice to Terminate Lease.” The notice stated that the PHA was terminating her lease because of her cocaine possession arrest. She was given 30 days to vacate the property, and the notice informed her that she didn't qualify for a pre-termination hearing because of the nature of her arrest. She later pled guilty to possession of cocaine and resisting law enforcement.
After the resident and her minor son were evicted, the son sued the local PHA for disability discrimination. The son claimed that the PHA regarded or treated the mother as a drug abuser even though she doesn't use drugs and has successfully completed a drug rehabilitation program. Although the PHA has a “one strike” policy that states that residents caught using or possessing drugs on or near the apartment complex are subject to automatic eviction, the son alleged that the failure to modify this policy, and give the mother a second chance due to her drug addiction disability, is a failure to accommodate in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The PHA asked the court to dismiss the case.
Ruling: An Indiana district court granted the PHA's request.
Reasoning: Current drug users aren't entitled to protection under the ADA or the Fair Housing Act (FHA). A PHA is entitled to take adverse action against someone who's caught using drugs. But it can't discriminate against someone for past drug use or for their efforts at drug rehabilitation. Here, the complaint admitted that the mother had made a “mistake” on one occasion in 2011 and had taken an illegal drug.
- A.B. v. Housing Authority of South Bend, May 2012