Challenge to Cancellation of NYCHA Section 8 Housing Vouchers

Yoanson v. New York City Housing Authority, 09 Civ. 10439 (SHS) (S.D.N.Y.)

Background. On December 17, 2009, NYCHA announced that it would stop accepting Housing Assistance Payment Contracts unless they were submitted to NYCHA before December 10, 2009. This rendered worthless all outstanding Section 8 vouchers for which the HAP contract was not submitted before December 10. Over 3000 families with outstanding Section 8 vouchers were affected: They included over 1800 formerly homeless families who were placed into apartments by the Department of Homeless Services who cannot afford their rent without Section 8; almost 400 victims of domestic violence who require Section 8 to move to escape their abusers; over 130 youth who are aging out of foster care or who are families seeking to reunify their families from foster care; almost 50 who are witnesses in police investigations who are threatened by criminal defendants; and almost 600 marginally housed families who are paying more than 50% of their income in rent or are living in severely substandard housing. The families did not receive written notice of the reasons for the cancellation of their vouchers or of the opportunity for an informal hearing.

NYCHA claimed it was withdrawing the vouchers because it had unexpectedly run out of funds to support them. However, NYCHA did not explain why it had so unexpectedly run out of funding when it was issuing vouchers as recently as the week before; nor did it explain whether it had money in reserve funds or other funds to cover these applicants, or whether there were other options for funding from the Federal, City or State government.

NYCHA’s Section 8 administrative plan does not permit the cancellation of vouchers because of a lack of funding, nor does it exclude such cases from the opportunity for a hearing. Federal regulations require a public hearing on 45 days prior notice before a significant modification to an administrative plan. NYCHA made no such modification of its plan and conducted no public hearing.

Nature of Claims. The plaintiffs allege that NYCHA’s cancellation of their vouchers without adequate written notice violate due process; and the cancellation of the vouchers without a prior lawful amendment of the administrative plan violated federal regulations and the plan.

Current Status: The complaint was filed on December 23, 2009. On January 26, 2010, the district court denied plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction relief.

No. Persons Affected: Over 3,000 families.

Reported Decisions: None.