Barbara Huberty was a recipient of Section 8 public housing assistance through the county housing agency. She began receiving Section 8 benefits in July 1997.

One of the Section 8 requirements is the housing agency must “recertify” eligibility each year. This requires a personal interview with the recipient, including completion of necessary paperwork.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

When Huberty’s recertification became due, she was mailed a letter on Jan. 6, 2003, advising of her recertification appointment on Feb. 4 and informing her she could reschedule if that was not convenient. But Huberty failed to appear for the appointment or contact the housing agency.

She was then mailed a second notice by first class and certified mail informing her of a new appointment date. Again she failed to respond. On March 31, 2003, Huberty’s Section 8 benefits were terminated.

Only then did she contact the housing agency, claiming she was caring for a sick friend. Huberty later appeared for a rescheduled interview, but she never provided information needed for recertification. After being granted several time extensions, Huberty’s Section 8 housing subsidy benefits were terminated.

She finally appeared at a housing agency hearing, telling the hearing officer she did not open her mail because it was too depressing. But she did not say she was suffering from depression or any other mental condition, that she was disabled, or needed any special accommodation. The hearing officer refused to grant more time extensions for Huberty to provide recertification documentation.

Upon hearing from Huberty’s legal services attorney, the housing agency refused to reinstate her Section 8 eligibility. Huberty then sued the housing agency, claiming she suffered from depression and adult attention deficit disorder. Her attorney asked for reasonable accommodation of her disability.

If you were the judge would you order the housing agency to make reasonable accommodation for Huberty’s alleged disability and reinstate her Section 8 housing eligibility?

The judge said no!

Huberty asked the housing agency to reconsider her Section 8 termination, the judge began, based on reasonable accommodation for her mental disability. But the housing agency responded the accommodation request is too vague and indefinite to give it any reasonable expectation of Huberty’s timely compliance with information requests, he noted.

“Thus regarded, plaintiff’s requested accommodation was unreasonable because it would work a fundamental alteration of the Section 8 program. Section 8 is a need-based housing assistance program,” the judge explained.

“Plaintiff’s requested accommodation would fundamentally alter this scheme by creating the very real potential that plaintiff would never again be required to recertify her financial need for housing assistance,” he emphasized.

“The requested accommodation has the effect of relieving plaintiff’s burden to prove her financial need for an indefinite period of time. To continue to enforce financial recertification requirements, the agency would have to go out and investigate plaintiff’s financial background to verify her financial eligibility.

“This prospect poses a significant administrative burden for which no provision is made in the detailed scheme created by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development,” the judge noted. Therefore, Huberty’s eligibility for reinstatement of Section 8 federal housing benefits is denied, the judge ruled.

Based on the 2005 U.S. District Court decision in Huberty v. Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, 374 Fed.Supp.3d 768.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to opinion@inman.com.

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription