PHA Can Terminate Resident’s Benefits Due to Unauthorized Occupant
Facts: A local PHA sent a resident a notice of the termination of her participation in the Section 8 program. The PHA claimed that the resident improperly permitted an unauthorized occupant to reside with her and this occupant violated the rule against criminal activity by committing the crimes of terroristic threats, harassment, and disorderly conduct. The resident requested a hearing to challenge the PHA’s decision.
At the hearing, the officer noted that the PHA’s police detective found that the occupant was residing in the resident’s subsidized unit. The occupant was charged with terroristic threats, harassment, and disorderly conduct, and all police reports for the occupant used the resident’s address. When he was arrested, the occupant was in the resident’s apartment, lying on the couch in his pajamas. Also, a mailed check and the occupant’s driver’s license stated the resident’s address.
In response, the resident stated that she let the occupant use her address because he needed an address for food stamps and medical benefits. She also stated that the occupant lives next door with his son. She then stated that the incident of disorderly conduct occurred a block away and he didn’t come back to her unit. He had gone to his son’s house but came over later to tell her about the argument. Furthermore, when the police came to the door to talk to him, they arrested him and he was in his pajamas because he had no clothes in her unit. She stated that she never gave him permission to use her address for his driver’s license and that he came to her unit frequently but doesn’t live there.
The hearing officer’s decision upheld the termination of assistance. The officer pointed to evidence that the unauthorized occupant was residing at her residence and that he found the evidence presented by the PHA to be more credible than her testimony.
The resident appealed the hearing officer’s decision to the trial court. The trial court issued an order scheduling a 20-minute conference, stating, “[Tenant], any attorney for [Tenant] and a representative of the [Authority] to amicably resolve the dispute shall be present for the conference.” After the conference, the trial court affirmed the hearing officer’s decision and denied the resident’s appeal. The resident then appealed the trial court’s decision.
Ruling: A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court agreed with the trial court’s decision.
Reasoning: The court found that the trial court’s findings of fact were supported by substantial evidence. The resident raised additional issues on appeal, such has the claim that she wasn’t automatically allowed out of her lease in August 2016 when her landlord appeared in her kitchen naked and that the county police were targeting her for unknown reasons. She also raised a mitigating factor that she never had problems with the PHA in her 14 years of receiving Section 8 assistance.
Issues not raised in the lower court are waived and can’t be raised for the first time on appeal. After considering the record, the court concluded that the issues had been ably and thoroughly resolved by the trial court.
• Kline v. Allegheny Cty. Hous. Auth., July 2019