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Law School Case Brief

Yesler Terrace Cmty. Council v. Cisneros - 37 F.3d 442 (9th Cir. 1994)

Rule:

Public housing tenants ordinarily may be evicted only after a grievance hearing before the public housing authority (PHA) that administers their residence.  42 U.S.C.S. § 1437d(k). In cases of eviction for drug-related or certain other criminal activity, PHAs may omit the otherwise mandatory grievance procedures, but only if the Department of Housing and Urban Development determines that state court eviction procedures satisfy the elements of due process as defined in 24 C.F.R. § 966.53(c).

Facts:

Plaintiffs Yesler Terrace Community Council, a non-profit corporation, and Eric Bolden, a public housing tenant, filed an action against defendants Henry G. Cisneros, in his official capacity as Secretary, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and HUD itself, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief on the ground that defendants violated the federal rules on low-income housing and other related laws. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants determined that the Washington state court eviction procedures satisfied the basic elements of due process, thereby allowing state public housing authorities to evict tenants accused of criminal activity without first affording them an informal grievance hearing. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the district court granted. Plaintiffs appealed.

Issue:

Was an informal hearing necessary before an eviction process could be administered by a public housing authority?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The appellate court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded the matter for further proceedings. The court ruled that when the defendants determined that the Washington state eviction procedures satisfied the basic elements of due process, defendants promulgated a substantive rule. However, they did so without notice and an opportunity to comment, as required by 24 C.F.R. § 10.1. Therefore, because the rule was promulgated in violation of defendants' own regulations, the rule was invalid.

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