Rental Assistance Terminated After Sex Offender Fails to Register
Facts: The Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA) discovered that one of its residents had been convicted of child molestation in Washington State in 1996, but was not registered as a sex offender, as the law requires. The resident had been receiving rental assistance through a voucher he obtained initially in Massachusetts. MSHA notified the resident that it was ending his voucher benefits on the ground of program fraud and for other reasons. After administrative review, a hearing officer found that the resident had not made any false representations because he was not aware of his duty to register and that his failure to register was not a threat to public health and safety.
Subsequently, MHSA served the resident with a second notice of termination, alleging that he had engaged in violent criminal activity, and renewing the charge that he failed to register as a sex offender. The hearing officer again ruled for the resident because the latter was not bound by a lifetime registration requirement. MSHA terminated the resident's voucher, claiming that it was not bound by the hearing officer's decisions as they conflicted with federal law and HUD regulations. The resident sued, arguing that termination violated his right to rental assistance under the Section 8 program.
Decision: A federal magistrate for the District of Maine ruled for MSHA and upheld the termination of the resident's voucher.
Reasoning: The court ruled that, according to Maine law, the resident was subject to a lifetime registration requirement. Consequently, it was an “error of law” for the hearing officer to deny MSHA's claim that registration was required, the court said. The court also ruled that MSHA was acting within its authority to terminate the resident's rental assistance.
- Miller v. McCormick, September 2008