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Wife Wins Claim to Section 8 Voucher Against HPD

HPD terminated abusive husband’s Section 8 rent payment voucher. A wife and her husband lived in an apartment together until February 2014 when the wife alleged that her husband attempted to rape her. At the time the husband was receiving a Section 8 rent payment voucher from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. After obtaining a restraining order, the wife requested that HPD transfer the Section 8 voucher to her pursuant to the federal Violence Against Women Act. In June 2015, HPD held a hearing to terminate the husband’s voucher. The wife was not notified of the hearing. In February 2016, HPD notified the wife that her husband’s voucher was terminated entirely. The notification contained no information on how to appeal.

The wife sued HPD alleging a violation of due process, disparate treatment under the Fair Housing Act and the City’s Human Rights Law, and arbitrary and capricious actions by HPD. In response, HPD argued that the wife had no property interest in her husband’s Section 8 voucher, and that the wife had no claim under the Fair Housing Act because the claim did not concern a “dwelling” within the scope of the Act.

U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero ruled in favor of the wife and denied HPD’s motion to dismiss. Judge Marrero noted that while the law is unsettled on whether a spouse has a property interest in her husband’s housing voucher, the Violence Against Women Act and HPD have established procedures to allow a spouse to seek a voucher if HPD terminated the husband’s voucher. Judge Marrero ruled that the procedures established a sufficient property interest to defeat dismissal. Judge Marrero also ruled that HPD’s administration of Section 8 vouchers subjected the agency to the Fair Housing Act, which covers a wide variety of discriminatory housing practices and which broadly accorded tenants standing to challenge unfair housing actions.

A.S. v. Been, 228 F.Supp.3d 315 (S.D.N.Y. 2017).