A class action lawsuit was filed in federal court today against the Metropolitan Housing Alliance
and its director Rodney Forte
for terminating housing subsidies for indigent residents unfairly.
The lawsuit describes the plight of an indigent resident who thought she had a deal to delay rent payments as she waited to move to a cheaper apartment, but was evicted for failure to pay without a fair hearing as provided in agency rules and lost her Section 8 housing subsidy, though she'd been a good tenant. The lawsuit said almost 1,000 tenants had lost Section 8 housing benefits on a notice by a landlord to vacate without proper hearings.
The lawsuit said Housing Alliance policies allow eviction on the word of landlords alone and tenants aren't allowed to cross-examine them at hearings on the termination.
The lawsuit said these procedures violate constitutional due process rights as well as federal law. The lawsuit describes the experience of a plaintiff whose subsidy was reduced because the size of her family dropped and she qualified for a smaller subsidy. She had an agreement in writing with a landlord, but he reneged on it and moved to evict her after she complained to the Arkansas attorney general.
The recitation of the facts are lengthy and nightmarish. It tells you in a case how little respect, dignity or law is afforded tenants under Arkansas law, even ones with nominal protection of federal housing agency agreements.
This ads to problems for the Alliance, currently embroiled in a prosecution by the Pulaski attorney for resisting Freedom of Information Act requests by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I note that agency officers who figure in some of the newspaper's efforts to dig into agency operations are among those giving an evicted tenant the barest of consideration in the appeal process. The plaintiff and her daughter and granddaughter are now homeless.
Here's the lawsuit. It's a story worthy of Kafka.
The lawyers for the plaintiff Brenda Glover — David Slade, John Williams and Hank Hates — ask for a preliminary injunction to restore Glover's Section 8 housing benefits until the case can be decided. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of Glover and all others in similar circumstances.