On January 23rd, the US 9th Circuit Court
of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that public housing officials cannot
evict tenants merely because their guests or household members used drugs.
According to housing advocates, thousands
of public housing tenants have been evicted for that reason since President
Clinton announced the policy in 1996. Under Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) regulations, tenants could be evicted if their guests
or family members used drugs or committed drug-related crimes, even if
the tenant was unaware of any illegal activity.
The case arose when four elderly tenants
of the Oakland Housing Authority challenged the federal policy after receiving
A federal circuit court judge issued an order
blocking the evictions in 1998, but a three-panel 9th Circuit panel later
reinstated the evictions. The tenants appealed to the full 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals, where they won last week.
Pearlie Rucker, 63, her mentally disabled
daughter, two grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter were informed they
would be evicted after the daughter was caught with cocaine three blocks
Willie Lee, 71, and Barbara Hill, 63, received
eviction notices after their teenaged grandsons were caught smoking marijuana
in an apartment complex garage.
Herman Walker, 75 and disabled, was given
an eviction notice after his caretaker and the caretaker's guests were
caught with cocaine.
The ruling is binding only in the nine
Western states covered by the 9th Circuit, but tenants' rights advocates
expect it will shape court decisions across the land.
"This will have a substantial impact nationwide,"
Catherine Bishop, a staff attorney for the National Housing Law Project
told the Los Angeles Times. "And hopefully, housing authorities will wake
up and realize they cannot evict innocent tenants."
-- END --
Issue #171, 2/2/01
Drug Arrests on New Jersey Highways in Freefall in Wake of Racial Profiling Scandal | Sen. Dodd Introduces Bill to Suspend Certification Process, Supports Move Toward Multilateral Drug War Evaluation Mechanism | Interview: Sanho Tree on Colombia | And the Meaning of Traffic Is...? | Drug Testing Declines Among Private Employers, but Testing Industry is Ready to Fight | Drug Bills in the Virginia Legislature: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly | Decriminalization and Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced in New Mexico Legislature | Newsbrief: US 9th Circuit Court Tosses Out HUD "One Strike and You're Out" Eviction Policy | Newsbrief: MS Sufferer Guilty in DC Medical Marijuana Case | The Reformer's Calendar: Portland, Philadelphia, New York, DC, SF, Minneapolis, St. Petersburg, Fort Bragg, Miami, Amsterdam, New Delhi | Editorial: Moving Forward with Open Eyes
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