Using The Housing Authority Grievance Procedure

What is the Housing Authority Grievance Procedure?
It is a process for tenants of public housing to have complaints addressed. If you are a tenant of the Housing Authority, you may file a grievance with the Housing Authority regarding any action or failure by the Housing Authority to act that you do not agree with.
The most frequent reasons to file a grievance and request a hearing are: (1) the Housing Authority has charged you for a damage or repair for which you deny responsibility, (2) you disagree with the amount of rent you are being charged, (3) the Housing Authority has not made necessary repairs and (4) you received a termination or eviction notice.

Why should I file a grievance?
The value of the grievance procedure is that it lets public housing tenants resolve problems without going to court and without having the Housing Authority take them to court. The grievance procedure permits solution of problems and disputes that would normally wind up in court. It also permits you an opportunity to raise issues with your landlord – the Housing Authority.

How do I file a grievance?
If you have a complaint against the Housing Authority, you should file a written grievance with the management office at your project site and send a copy to the main office. Always keep a copy of the grievance that you file. You should file the grievance as soon as the complaint arises. Always act quickly.

What happens after I file a grievance?
The first stage is called a grievance meeting, informal conference or first level hearing. This is usually conducted by the housing manager of the project or the general housing manager in the main office. You have the right, before the hearing, to review all information the Housing Authority has in its files (for example, documents showing how your rent was calculated, complaints from neighbors, bills for repairs made).
You have the right to be represented by an attorney, housing advocate or any other person at this and every other stage of the hearing process.
At the hearing, you should explain your grievance and present any evidence; for example, a police report showing that vandals damaged your door and/or neighbors who witnessed the incident. You may ask questions of the Housing Authority. It might be possible to settle the dispute during the conference, but do not give in on the grievance just because the Housing Authority insists that they will not change the proposed action; there is no penalty for taking your grievance to the next stage of appeal.
After the informal hearing, the Housing Authority is required to prepare a written summary of the discussion at the hearing and to send you a copy. The written summary will state the housing authority’s decision and the reasons for the decision. It must also inform you of the procedures for appealing the decision.

How do I appeal the hearing decision?
You should file a written request for an appeal with the site management office and a copy to the main office as quickly as possible after you receive the first hearing decision. Write a short letter that includes your name, date, address, the reason for filing the grievance and a statement asking for an appeal. The next step is a formal hearing which must be scheduled promptly after the Housing Authority receives your request for an appeal.

What will happen at the formal hearing?
At the formal hearing, the case is heard by a hearing officer or panel of three hearing officers. By this time in the hearing process, you should be represented by an attorney or other advocate. The hearing officer is someone jointly agreed on by the Housing Authority and you and/or your representative. The hearing may also be heard by a panel of three officers, one chosen by you, one by the Housing Authority and one by the other two hearing officers.
The process at the formal hearing is similar to that at the informal hearing. The Housing Authority’s witnesses will testify, and you or your representative have the right to ask them questions and present your own witnesses and evidence. The hearing officer or panel will prepare a written decision. The decision must be based on the lease and all the laws that control the public housing program. If the subject of the hearing was an eviction, even if you lose the hearing, you will still be able to challenge the eviction in court. A hearing decision on any other matter is final and binding on you and the Housing Authority.

√   The Housing Authority grievance procedure is a way of resolving problems without going to court.
√   You must request a grievance hearing; it will not be scheduled automatically.
√   Except for evictions, all formal hearing decisions are final.