United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
A. RUSSO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Heather Huff and Terry Blakely filed suit against defendant
Marion County Housing Authority (“MCHA”) alleging
deprivation of their Fourteenth Amendment rights in violation
of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs move for partial summary
judgment as to liability, leaving the issues of damages to be
determined at trial, and equitable relief. Defendant filed a
cross-motion for summary judgment on all claims. Oral
argument was held on June 19, 2018. All parties have
consented to allow a Magistrate Judge to enter final orders
and judgment in this case in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 73
and 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). See (doc. 10).
For the reasons set forth below, the motions are GRANTED in
part and DENIED in part.
Statutory and Regulatory Framework
Department of Housing and Urban Development
(“HUD”) funds the Housing Choice Voucher
(“HCV”) program and “pays rental subsidies
[to] eligible families [allowing them to] afford decent, safe
and sanitary housing.” 24 C.F.R. § 982.1(a)(1);
see also 42 U.S.C. § 1437 et seq. This
program is sometimes known colloquially as “Section
8” housing. See Visintini v. Hayward, 2009 WL
2413356, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 5, 2009). State or local
government entities administer HCV programs through public
housing agencies (“PHAs”). 24 C.F.R. §
982.1(a)(1). Eligible participating families are responsible
for securing a private landlord willing to rent a unit that
meets the program housing quality standards
(“HQS”). 24 C.F.R. § 982.1(a)(2). If their
unit is approved by the PHA, the participating family enters
into a lease agreement; concurrently, the administering PHA
enters into a Housing Assistance Payment (“HAP”)
contract with the landlord in accordance with HUD
regulations. 24 C.F.R. § 982.1(a)(2). Subsequently, the
PHA “must pay the housing assistance payment promptly
when due to the owner in accordance with the HAP
contract.” 24 C.F.R. § 982.451(5)(i). To remain in
the program, participants must comply with specific
“family obligations” as defined by relevant
regulations. See 24 C.F.R. § 982.551. For
example, participants must: supply the PHA with all required
information; allow the PHA to inspect units “at
reasonable times after reasonable notice;” follow the
terms of their unit's lease; and promptly notify the PHA
of an eviction. See 24 C.F.R. § 982.551(b)-(i).
a PHA as defined by 24 C.F.R. § 982 and charged with
administering the federally subsidized HCV program to low
income individuals and families in rural Marion County.
Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 2 (doc. 44). Plaintiffs, at
various times, participated in MCHA's HCV program. MCHA
is governed by a Board of Directors, which establishes
official policies. Mathews Decl. Ex. 1, at 31 (doc.
Plaintiff Terry Blakely
Terry Blakely has been an HCV program participant since 2004,
using a voucher administered by MCHA. Blakely Decl. ¶ 1
(doc. 42). In late August 2017, Blakely began
house-sitting for her daughter while she attended a funeral.
Id. at ¶¶ 3-4; Blakely Dep. 13-17
(doc. 40-21). Blakely returned to her residence
briefly on September 4 and 11; she returned permanently on
September 29. Id. at 17-20.
the period Blakely was away from her residence, MCHA
attempted to schedule two inspections of her unit.
Rena-Doxier Decl. Exs. 22 (doc. 40-22); 23 (doc.
40-23). Blakely did not receive either notice with
sufficient time to be present for the scheduled inspections.
Blakely Decl. ¶¶ 5-6 (doc. 42); Blakely
Dep. 20-21 (doc. 40-21).
October 3, MCHA issued Blakely a notice terminating her from
the HCV Program with an “effective” date that
same day. Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex. 24 (doc. 40-24).
MCHA based the termination notice on a violation of family
obligation #6: “The family must allow MCHA to inspect
the unit at reasonable times and after reasonable
notice.” Id. The notice stated Blakely
“was sent two (2) letters regarding inspection. Both
times [Blakely] was not present in the home.”
Id. MCHA concedes the termination notice was
“not in compliance with MCHA policy of providing 30
days between the date of the notice and the termination from
the HCV program.” Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 6 (doc.
October 10, Blakely went to MCHA to complete her annual
recertification paperwork and her caseworker informed her she
had been terminated from the HCV program. Blakely Dep. 26
(doc. 40-21). Blakely requested a hearing that day;
however, MCHA did not hold a hearing. Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex.
25 (doc. 40-25); Blakely Decl. ¶¶ 9-10
(doc. 42). Blakely then contacted an attorney, who
reiterated her request for a hearing in a letter dated
October 17, 2017. Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex. 26 (doc.
40-26); Blakely Dep. 27 (doc. 40-21)
again did not hold a hearing. Instead, MCHA scheduled and
conducted an inspection of Blakely's residence on October
27, 2017. Blakely Decl. ¶¶ 10-11 (doc.
42); Marshall Dep. 30 (doc. 45-2); Mathews
Decl. Ex. 6, at 30 (doc. 45-6). On November 1, after
the inspection was complete, MCHA rescinded the notice of
termination. Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex. 28 (doc. 40-28).
Plaintiff Heather Huff
the mother of three children and has held an HCV from MCHA
since 2002, with the exception of a brief period during 2016.
Huff Decl. ¶ 1 (doc. 41). In April 2016,
Huff's landlord issued a notice terminating Huff's
tenancy without a stated cause. Id. at ¶ 6.
Huff's landlord “wanted to remodel [the] unit, and
they gave [her] a no cause eviction, ” and explained
she “had done nothing wrong, it was nothing
personal[.]” Huff Dep. 18 (doc. 40-5). Huff
notified her MCHA case worker and requested a move
voucher. Huff Decl. ¶ 7 (doc. 41).
MCHA required Huff's lease to include a standard HUD
addendum, which necessitated that her landlord provide a
cause for terminating her lease. HAP Contract § 8.d(3)
(doc. 53-1); see also Gonzales Dep. 33
10, Huff's landlord issued a second notice terminating
her tenancy; however, this notice was issued for
“cause” with a June 9 effective date. Rena-Doxier
Decl. Ex. 8 (doc. 40-8). Huff contacted her MCHA
caseworker regarding the “for cause” termination
and again requested a move voucher. Huff Decl. ¶ 8
1, MCHA issued Huff a notice of termination from the HCV
Program. Id.; see also Rena-Doxier Decl.
Ex. 9 (doc. 40-9). The termination notice stated
Huff's eviction by her landlord was “FOR CAUSE
TERMINATION” and her termination from the MCHA program
was “DUE TO EVICTION BY LANDLORD, ” with an
effective date of June 9. Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex. 9 (doc.
40-9) (capitalization in original). The June 1
termination notice afforded Huff ten days to request a
hearing on her termination from the HCV Program. Id.
That same day, Huff requested a hearing in writing, and the
request was granted with a hearing scheduled for June 8.
Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex. 10 (doc. 40-10); Rena-Doxier
Decl. Ex. 11 (doc. 40-11). Because the June 1
termination notice did not comply with MCHA policy,
MCHA's executive director instructed Huff's case
manager on June 2 to “[r]emove the termination on
Heather Huff, ” and explained to the caseworker in an
email she could not “terminate [Huff] until after a
court order eviction has occurred or a hearing has taken
place.” Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex. 13 (doc. 40-13);
see also Mathews Decl. Ex. 2, at 21-22 (doc.
45-2); Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex. 11 (doc. 40-11).
20, Huff entered into a stipulated move out agreement with
her landlord where she agreed to vacate the premise by July
15. Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex. 14 (doc. 40-14). On July
1, MCHA issued Huff a second notice of termination from the
HCV program effective July 15, and listed four family
obligations Huff allegedly violated. Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex. 15
(doc. 40-15). Specifically, MCHA alleged Huff
violated family obligations:
• #7 The family is responsible for any HQS (Housing
Quality Standards) breach . . . beyond the normal wear and
tear caused by any member of the household or guest.
• #9 The family must give MCHA a copy of any owner
eviction notice including lease violation notices within 3
business days of receipt.
• #13 The family must promptly notify MCHA in writing
within 10 business days if any family member no longer
resides in the unit.
• # 16 The family must not commit any serious or
repeated violation of the lease[.]
Id. (emphasis removed).
8, Huff again requested a hearing, although one was never
scheduled. Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex. 16 (doc. 40-16).
Huff declared she never received a response to her hearing
request. Huff Decl. ¶ 17 (doc. 41). MCHA
maintains it did not initially schedule a hearing because
Huffs “attorney could not be reached to confer on an
agreeable date.” Mathew's Decl. Ex. 1, at 5-6
(doc. 45-1). MCHA asserts the decision not to hold a
hearing going forward was based on “a mutual
agreement” with Huffs attorney to afford Huff an
“opportunity to remedy” one of her family
obligations; MCHA further contends Huffs hearing was
“never denied, but it was delayed while MCHA worked
with Ms. Huff's attorney to remedy the HQS violations so
that she would not be terminated.” Id. at
8-13; 19-21; 23-24. In their opposition to MCHA's motion
for summary judgment, plaintiffs take issue with MCHA's
characterization and rely on Huff's former counsel, who
testified: “[I]f we had a denial, at least we would
have an opportunity for a hearing. But we couldn't even
get a denial from them. That was the frustration of dealing
with the Housing Authority - we were in limbo, so we never
got into details about the termination.” James Dep. 21
(doc. 40-18). MCHA also maintains it was attempting
to find a suitable hearing officer should Huff fail to remedy
her HQS violations. Mathew's Decl. Ex. 6, at 11 (doc.
15, Huff and her children moved out of their home, without
having received a move voucher from MCHA. Huff Decl. ¶
18 (doc. 41) Unable to afford rent without a HAP
subsidy, Huff and her children were homeless. Id. at
¶¶ 19-21. They put their belongings in storage and
stayed with family, friends, and in a motel. Id.;
see also Huff Dep. 44-46 (doc. 40-5).
August 2016, Huff's attorney again contacted MCHA to
request a hearing, informing MCHA that Huff and her children
were homeless. Rena-Doxier Decl. Ex. 19 (doc.
40-19). Huff was unable to find housing to accommodate
her entire family: her two older children stayed with her
parents allowing them to remain in the same school; Huff and
her youngest child stayed at a friend's house in Salem,
Oregon, and slept in their living room. Huff Decl.
¶¶ 19-21 (doc. 41).
October 10, MCHA issued a move voucher to Huff. Mathews Decl.
Ex. 6, at 12 (doc. 45-6). Over two months later, on
December 15, Huff entered into a new lease and was reunited
with her two older children. Huff Decl. ¶24 (doc.
41); Huff Dep. 43 (doc. 40-5).
judgment is appropriate if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, affidavits, and admissions on
file, if any, show “that there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the [moving party] is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
Substantive law on an issue determines the materiality of a
fact. T.W. Elec. Servs., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors
Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987). Whether
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return ...