Sex Offender Not Allowed to Live in Unit
Facts: A local housing authority terminated a resident's Section 8 rental assistance for violating the Section 8 requirement that all persons living in the unit must be approved by the housing authority. Specifically, the termination letter stated an unapproved person was "registered as a sexual offender, at your address on October 23, 2010." The letter advised the household of their right to dispute the determination by requesting an informal hearing.
Before the hearing took place, the resident received a "homeless verification form" from the St. Vincent de Paul Society in San Francisco indicating that the offender was living in California. The verification form indicated that from Jan. 18, 2011, until the current date of Feb. 1, 2011, the offender was in San Francisco. This information was passed along to the housing authority.
At the hearing, the resident testified that the offender has never lived at the unit. The Section 8 case manager didn't provide any personal or direct knowledge of the offender's residence. Rather, she testified only about documentation she obtained, such as Internet printouts of the Florida sexual offender registry and the County Sheriff's call log, which purports to support the contention that the offender resided with the resident. The housing authority terminated the resident's benefits, and the resident appealed. The housing authority then asked the court to dismiss the case.
Ruling: A Florida district court granted the housing authority's request.
Reasoning: Federal regulation requires that the decisions of the hearing officer must be supported by a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of the evidence means "an amount of evidence that is enough to persuade [the trier of fact] that the Plaintiff's claim is more likely true than not true."
Here, the identity of the offender is clear, and he listed the resident's address as his permanent residence. Also, the court determined that the hearing officer was not unreasonable for discounting information the resident provided concerning the San Francisco homeless verification. The verification only attests to the offender living in California for a period of 14 days in January 2011.
Thus, the two pieces of information on which the hearing officer relied—the sexual offender registry and the call log—are adequate to support the officer's determination.
- Lane vs. Fort Walton Beach Housing Authority, November 2011