Cases & Deals

Disabled, homeless single mother obtains housing voucher

Client(s) Client LE

In February 2014, Client LE visited the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. Our client suffered from multiple chronic, debilitating illnesses. She was homeless and taking care of a six year-old foster child. She stopped by the clinic as a last ditch effort to find stable housing for her family.

A few months earlier, Client LE had received a letter from the D.C. Housing Authority ("DCHA") informing her that, after several years of delay, her name had finally been reached on the waiting list to receive a voucher through the Housing Choice Voucher Program. However, the letter went on to explain that there were no funds available to issue her a federally-funded voucher. Instead, DCHA stated that, subject to an eligibility determination, it was prepared to offer her a local voucher under the Local Rent Supplement Program ("LRSP").

After conducting diligence, DCHA issued its final answer to our client's request for an LRSP voucher, deeming her ineligible. The sole ground for the denial of eligibility expressed in the letter was an outstanding balance Client LE allegedly owed to DCHA. She did not have any money with which to satisfy this purported debt from five years earlier, and so she reached out to the clinic for help.

The clinic referred the case to Jones Day. After reviewing the case, it became readily apparent that her alleged debt was time-barred under the applicable D.C. statute of limitations. Under applicable law and regulations, only currently owed debts to public housing authorities can serve as grounds for the denial of public housing assistance. Because DCHA had relied on no other rationales in deeming Client LE ineligible for the voucher, its decision was legally erroneous.

After helping her preserve her right to appeal the decision and request a hearing, the Jones Day team began negotiating with DCHA, seeking a pre-hearing resolution of the matter. In the end, an arrangement could not be worked out. In July 2014, the matter proceeded to a hearing before an administrative hearing officer. The Jones Day team presented evidence and examined witnesses over the course of several hours, making the case that our client's denial was improper.

Ultimately, the hearing officer agreed and issued an opinion in September 2014 in which she reversed DCHA's denial of Client LE's eligibility for the voucher and ordered DCHA to restore her to the top of the waiting list. DCHA complied, and in October 2014, she received her voucher. For the first time in half a decade, Client LE will have the opportunity to secure stable, safe housing for her family.