Dallas Housing Authority / Arbitrary denial of public housing
I applied for public housing with the Dallas Housing Authority and was denied because of my criminal record, which is relatively minor and the facts they relied upon erroneous.
The actual complaint is as follows.
FORMAL APPEAL AND REQUEST FOR INFORMAL REVIEW
COMES NOW the Applicant-Appellant in the above styled and numbered matter, respectfully appealing the withdrawal of his application for housing to the Dallas Housing Authority and requesting an informal review of the decision.
The notice withdrawing the application is dated May 14, 2007, and a copy of it is appended hereto as Exhibit “A”, along with the background report which was relied upon.
Applicant is a sixty (60) year old individual who is disabled, meeting the guidelines and criteria set forth under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Federal Fair Housing Act. He currently lives in a two-room apartment located at 5110 Bryan Street, Dallas for which he pays $411 monthly in rent. The apartment does not have a kitchen and stove nor any accommodations for Applicants’ diabetic nerve damage for which he needs grab rails in the shower and next to the toilet. Applicant receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in the amount of $623 monthly and food stamps. Currently, Applicant’s rent is 65% of this monthly income.
Applicant presently suffers from the following medical problems:
· Type II Diabetes, with neurological nerve damage to the feet requiring a grab bar in the shower and toilet areas;
· Glaucoma with marked narrowing of the field of vision;
· Hepatitis C;
· Degenerative Disc Disease with foraminal changes to the lower lumbar spine; and
· Edema with swelling of the lower extremities.
Not only do these medical problems demonstrate a genuine need for housing with special accommodations, but argue strongly against him being a threat to other residents due to these severe medical maladies.
Applicant has also reformed himself and at sixty, one must wonder what took so long. Applicant is also New Born Christian who attends the Munger Methodist Church, located at 5200 Bryan and it is submitted that he has changed his life radically and does not pose a threat to others. Appellant’s Parole Office, Mr. Woods of the Garland Parole Office, could have provided information on Applicant’s adjustment while on parole and what kind of threat I pose, if any. Had the Dallas Housing Authority conducted an interview with Applicant based upon both their concerns and the information provided in the background report, a clearer view of Applicant and any danger which he might pose could have been more rationally assessed.
BASIS FOR APPEAL
This appeal is based upon the following facts and the exhibit appended hereto:
I. MOST THE REASONS FOR WITHDRAWING APPLICANT’S APPLICATION DUE TO HIS PRIOR RECORD WERE ERRONEOUS AND NOT FACTUAL IN NATURE OR WERE TOO FAR REMOVED IN TIME TO BE CONSIDERED A VALID INDICATOR AS TO APPLICANT’S PRESENT CHARACTER.
Attached hereto and made a part hereof as Exhibit A, is a copy of (1) the letter giving Applicant notice that his application had been withdrawn and (2) the “Background Report” which was relied upon for this action. This report has notations on it made by Applicant with consists of letters to the left of each entry which will allow a review of his claims which are set forth below. Also, the report contains (1) records of arrests which were without a conviction and consequently cannot be considered; (2) a single record of a drug charge which was a misdemeanor and was subsequently overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals thus not resulting in a conviction; and (3) multiple entries of a single arrest or arrest with a conviction, which cause the reader to incorrectly view a single event as multiple occurrences. This five (5) page report would have only taken two (2) pages if these multiple entries would have been entered as what they were – a single occurrence of criminal conduct. This portrays Applicant in an unfair light and is greatly prejudicial. These entries are as follows with letter notations to their left side, which are referenced below:
A This is a 14 year old matter involving a traffic ticket in Phoenix and shows no conviction or disposition and cannot legally be considered;
B-C-D These three entries are also of a 14 year old matter involving an unspecified charge and shows neither a conviction nor disposition;
E -F -G -J - K - L All of these entries are of a single conviction on a charge of forgery of a check and a business burglary from 1990 (17 years ago);
H - I Stated as dismissed – from 1990’s;
M - N This is a matter from the 80’s (some 27 years ago) and the burglary was of a business and the drug conviction was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals;
O - P These two matters happened when Applicant was a teenager some 47 years ago and are certainly to0 old to be relied upon as an indicator of current threats or recent criminal activity.
Please note that there is not one single conviction involving a crime against an individual.
II. THE REASONS FOR WITHDRAWING APPLICANT’S APPLICATION WERE ARBITRARY AND CAPRICIOUS AND THUS IN VIOLATION OF ESTABLISHED FEDERAL AND TEXAS LAWS AND REGULATIONS
Both the Federal and Texas Administrative Procedure Acts prohibit government agencies from engaging in any action which is arbitrary and capricious and which adversely affects a citizen. See Title 5, United States Code, Sections 701-06.
III. THE DALLAS HOUSING AUTHORITY IMPROPERLY ADMINISTERED THEIR APPLICATION AND WAITING LIST PROCEDURES AND CRITERIA, TO APPLICANT’S SUBSTANTIAL PREJUDICE.
It is respectfully submitted that the Fair Housing Act requires that a Public Housing Authority (hereinafter, “PHA”) must comply with the mandatory regulations and guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing. See Title 24, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 982.153.
The waiting list which Appellant was placed on ignores the requirements of Title 24, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 982.153, in that Applicant was not placed on such a list on a priority basis; that no determination was made of whether Applicant pays more than 50% of his income for rent (he pays 65%) and whether Applicant was living in substandard housing at the time he made application. Also, it is manifestly unfair to have a person thinking that they are actually on a list for housing, when in reality, Applicant was only on a list to be considered for housing. The effect was for Applicant to rely upon the Dallas Housing Authority solely for housing -- had a determination been made at the initial submission of his application that his criminal record could disqualify him, Applicant would not have needlessly suffered while being housed in a substandard apartment and wasted almost a year waiting on “his housing”.
IV. AT A MINIMUM, APPLICANT IS ENTITLED TO A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION UNDER THE FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING ACT.
It is respectfully submitted that even should Applicant be deemed to be a threat to other residents at a Dallas Housing Authority facility due to his criminal history, a reasonable accommodation is both justified and warranted in his case and Applicant should be afforded a single family dwelling without neighbors who are clients of the DHA. It is manifestly unfair to subject a person who has not been involved in criminal activities for a noteworthy period to live in poverty, when such poverty only leads to desperation, possibly making criminal activity his only means to survive. The ends of justice and that of society in general would have been best served in accommodating Applicant’s efforts to be a law-abiding individual.
It is respectfully submitted that the decision to withdraw Applicant’s opportunity for housing was not justified in the premises and that his application should be reinstated or alternatively, Applicant should be provided with a single family dwelling.
Justice requires no less.
DATED: May ___, 2007 ________________________
DON VICTOR HARBOLT,
5110 Bryan Street, Apt. D
Dallas, Texas 75206