PHA Can Terminate Resident’s Voucher for Guest’s Criminal Activity
Facts: When a resident first leased her unit, she listed five people as members of the household. The resident signed the voucher, which set forth the family obligations, including that the family must not “[e]ngage in drug-related criminal activity or violent criminal activity or other criminal activity that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of other residents and persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the premises.” She also signed an addendum to the family obligations that set forth the family’s responsibility to use the unit for residence only by the family that’s listed on lease and to comply with the PHA’s policy regarding guests. The addendum provided that a person who exceeds the time as a guest will be considered an unauthorized occupant and the family will be subject to program termination.
Three years later, the resident submitted an application for continued eligibility to remain in the Section 8 program. In the application, she listed family members but crossed out one person’s name and wrote that he had been “removed from household.” She also signed an “out of household declaration,” which is used to inform the PHA of household family members moving out of the unit, stating that he no longer resided in her household and she didn’t know his new address.
A few months later, the PHA learned that a search warrant was executed at the unit, and that during the search, weapons were recovered from inside the unit that allegedly belonged to the family member who moved out. He was arrested.
The PHA informed the resident that it was proposing termination of her participation in the voucher program based on the violation of several family obligations related to the individual’s arrest for possessing illegal weapons inside the unit. The individual was an unauthorized occupant of the unit at the time of his arrest and his possession of illegal weapons violated the criminal laws and threatened the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of other residents. The resident appealed.
Ruling: An Illinois appeals court agreed with the PHA’s termination of the resident’s housing voucher after an informal administrative hearing.
Reasoning: HUD regulations state that “[t]he members of the household may not engage in drug-related criminal activity or violent criminal activity or other criminal activity that threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of other residents and persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the premises.” The HUD regulations also state that the family obligations that must be complied with as a condition for participating in the HCV program, also “apply to a guest.” A “guest” is defined as “a person temporarily staying in the unit with the consent of a tenant or other member of the household who has express or implied authority to so consent on behalf of the tenant.”
Here, the police officers’ incident report listed the guest’s address as the unit. They found a rifle with a high-capacity magazine, a 9 mm semi-automatic weapon with a high-capacity magazine, as well as live ammunition and gun-cleaning supplies. They also recovered a .22 caliber gun. The incident report stated that the weapons and ammunition were all owned by the individual. He was charged with one count of unlawful use of weapons for knowingly possessing a rifle having one or more barrels less than 16 inches in length. He was also charged with three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm without a valid firearm owner’s identification card. He pleaded guilty to unlawful use of weapons and was sentenced to 54 months in prison.
He also was charged with two narcotics offenses, possession of a controlled substance and manufacture or delivery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to one year in prison.
The PHA sought to terminate the resident’s voucher because the individual violated the guest policy time frame and thus was an unauthorized occupant of the unit and because he was arrested on that date for possessing firearms in the unit. The hearing officer entered an order upholding the termination of the voucher, finding that the PHA had proven the individual was an unauthorized occupant of the unit on the date of his arrest for possession of firearms, all of which violated the family obligations.
- Wright v. Chicago Housing Authority, December 2021