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Section 578 of the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 (QHWRA) prohibits the admission of lifetime registered sex offenders to federally assisted housing. The regulations adopted by HUD to implement the statute became effective on June 25, 2001. A 2009 audit by the Inspector General found that between .05 and .07 percent of households living in federally assisted housing contain a lifetime registered sex offender. The IG concluded that HUD “did not accomplish the objective of the statute to prevent admission of dangerous sex offenders” and allowed the “same offenders who were deemed too dangerous for admission” to remain in HUD- subsidized housing.
In response to the audit, HUD issued notice PIH 2009-35(HA)/H 2009-11. The notice urges public housing authorities and private owners of federally assisted housing to: (1) include a question about the sex offender status of each household member on recertification forms; (2) verify the information on the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Database; and (3) if the recertification screening reveals that a lifetime registered sex offender is living in HUD-subsidized housing, “aggressively pursue” eviction or termination of assistance to the extent allowed by the lease and state or local law. QHWRA does not provide for eviction or termination of assistance on the basis of sex offender status. Nevertheless, in the wake of the HUD notice, public housing authorities might seek out lifetime registered sex offenders for eviction or termination of assistance. Many lifetime registered sex offenders did not commit a violent or coercive crime. A number of states require individuals who urinate in public, teenagers who engage in consensual sex, and children who expose themselves as a prank to register as sex offenders.
Perkins-Bey v. Housing Authority of St. Louis County, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25438 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 14, 2011)
The district court granted a voucher participant’s motion for preliminary injunction, finding a great likelihood that the PHA “violated his rights by discontinuing his Section 8 housing subsidy on the basis that he is required to register as a sex offender.” At issue was whether the participant violated his family obligations through his lifetime registration as a sex offender.
In the Matter of Bonseiro v. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development
HPD’s interpretation of the law was erroneous and invalid. Hearing Officer’s decision, which upheld a termination of a voucher tenant, was arbitrary and capricious. Case remanded to hearing officer for reconsideration.
Miller v. McCormick, 605 F. Supp. 2d 296 (D. Me 2009)
The court found that the Maine State Housing Authority could not terminate a Section 8 homeownership voucher on the grounds that the recipient is a lifetime registered sex offender.
Statutes and Regulations
HUD Notice H 2002-22 Screening and Eviction for Drug Abuse and Other Criminal Activity – Final Rule
The notice explains that “neither the statutory nor regulatory requirements specifically address sex offenders currently living in federally assisted housing.”
Letter from John Cahill, Regional Counsel for N.Y./N.J., HUD, to Ellen Davidson, The Legal Aid Society (Dec. 21, 2007)
HUD took the position that the bar against lifetime registered sex offenders applies only to applicants seeking admission to federally assisted housing.
Letter from HUD to N.Y. City Dept. of Preservation & Development (July 16, 2009)
HUD took the position that QHWRA mandates termination of tenancy or assistance to lifetime registered sex offenders admitted in violation of the statute, but does not allow termination of tenancy or assistance to tenants who become lifetime registered sex offenders after admission.
Office of Inspector General, HUD, Audit Report, 2009-KC-0001 (2009)
The IG found that between .05 and .07 percent of households living in HUD subsidized housing contain a lifetime registered sex offender. The report made a series of recommendations to HUD, including asking HUD to seek legislative and program rule changes to require termination of tenancy or assistance to lifetime registered sex offenders.
HUD Notice PIH 2009-35(HA)/H 2009-11 State Lifetime Sex Offender Registration
The notice states that HUD is exploring regulatory and legislative changes to ensure that lifetime registered sex offenders do not continue to reside in federally assisted housing. HUD urges PHAs to aggressively pursue termination of tenancy or assistance to lifetime registered sex offenders to the extent allowed by the lease and state or local law. The notice does create an exception for lifetime registered sex offenders admitted before the QHWRA final rule became effective on June 25, 2001.
HUD Notice PIH 2012-28/H 2012-11 State Registered Lifetime Sex Offenders in Federally Assisted Housing
This notice reiterates that owners and agents (O/As) and Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) are prohibited from admitting into federally assisted housing individuals subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a State sex offender registration program. The notice also states that O/As and PHAs must pursue eviction or termination for participants subject to a lifetime registration requirement who were erroneously admitted into a federal housing program after June 25, 2001.