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Judge Rules L.A. Housing Authority Gave Proper Notice in Section 8

A Los Angeles federal judge has ruled that the Los Angeles housing authority gave proper advance notice to tens of thousands of Section 8 housing beneficiaries that their rents would effectively be going up, according to court papers release June 20.

U.S. District Judge George Wu, ruling in a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of the beneficiaries, said the housing authority was not negligent, did not breach any mandatory duties to the beneficiaries and did not violate the beneficiaries’ state and federal due process rights.

A call for comment to a HACLA representative was not immediately returned.

The plaintiffs alleged the housing authority failed to properly notify the beneficiaries a year in advance that the reduction in the voucher payment standard amount would effectively raise the rent for many of them. They did not challenge the reduction itself, a second 30-day notice, or any change in their rents, but only the written notice.

The original lawsuit was filed in 2007 in Los Angeles federal court by two Section 8 housing beneficiaries and a non-profit advocacy organization.

In his ruling, Wu noted that the authority not only properly served each participant written notice a year ahead of time of the change to the voucher payment standard, but also held that the participants were all subject to required training about the voucher payment standard.

The housing authority conducted 20 outreach meetings at public housing sites and seven regional Section 8 meetings to help inform the recipients about the change, defense attorneys said.

In addition, the judge noted the authority issued second written notices 30 days prior to the effective date of the change to each participant, which advised the beneficiaries if and by how much the change in the voucher payment standard affected their rent.

“The court … would find that the notice provided by defendants was sufficiently effective to protect Section 8 recipients from an abrupt and unexpected reduction in their benefits,” Wu wrote in his 17-page ruling, issued on June 6.

The ruling stemmed from a renewed motion for summary judgment submitted by attorneys representing the housing authority.

“This is a victory not only for the housing authority but for similar public housing authorities across the country, and also for the taxpayers who subsidize these programs,” attorney Brant Dveirin said.