Residents Can File Class Action Lawsuit Against PHA
Facts: Several residents sued a PHA for discrimination and asked the court to certify them as a group. The residents claimed that, on March 1, 2013, the PHA made major changes to its administration of the Section 8 program as a result of federal budget cuts. These changes included revisions to the subsidy standards. Before March 1, 2013, the residents claimed, “children of the opposite sex (unless they were very, very young children) and persons from different generations (parents, grandparents, children) were not required to share a room.” After March 1, 2013, “the head of household (with spouse, co-head, Registered Domestic Partner, or boyfriend/girlfriend if any) [were assigned] one room and an additional bedroom [was assigned] for every two persons regardless of age or gender.”
These changes resulted in many voucher holders receiving a smaller bedroom allocation and a smaller subsidy standard. The residents contended that, subsequent to these changes, the residents each “submitted a reasonable accommodation request for an additional bedroom” based on at least one member of their families having a documented disability. The PHA denied each of these requests pursuant to what residents allege was an “illegal blanket policy.”
Ruling: A California district court granted the residents’ request for class certification.
Reasoning: The court ruled that the residents’ request fulfilled all the requirements of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, which governs class certification. However, the court modified the definition of the class to limit it to voucher holders who submitted reasonable accommodation requests after July 1, 2013. The residents’ original class definition lacked a date restriction. In this case, the residents have stated that the PHA’s uniform policy emerged on July 1, 2013, after it made certain program changes following federal budget cuts in March 2013.
- Huynh v. Harasz, November 2015