Shamokin Housing Authority sued, faces HUD sanctions in suit
SHAMOKIN - Sanctions against the Shamokin Housing Authority (SHA) are possible over its refusal to provide federal housing subsidies to a tenant, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said in a letter last month.
The tenant, Brenda Everett, of Shamokin, meanwhile, on Thursday sued the authority and its executive director, Ronald Miller, in U.S. Middle District Court in Williamsport over the issue.
She claims SHA has withheld subsidies for the apartment she lives in with her two disabled daughters for the past nine months. She's asking the court for an injunction to process a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher she transferred from Harrisburg to Shamokin. She's also asking that her participation in the assistance program not be terminated prior to a hearing and due process consideration.
Everett also wants the authority to reimburse her for the subsidized portion of the rent to which she said she's entitled, as well as costs and attorney fees and any further relief the court sees fit.
Court documents show Everett lives with an adult disabled daughter and a minor disabled child.
She was a participant in the voucher program through the Harrisburg Housing Authority (HHA), but said she moved out of the city because of a high incidence of criminal activity near her residence.
The Harrisburg authority helped Everett transfer the voucher to Shamokin, which issued a voucher to her on Aug. 24, That same day, Everett made a request for SHA to inspect her apartment. She said that did not occur.
Two weeks later, SHA sent a letter to Everett saying the agency was revoking the subsidy based on a report from the U.S. Postal Service that her adult son, Khaalid Muhammad, was living with her. Simultaneously, SHA issued a notice to Everett's adult daughter, saying her subsidy was also ending for the same reason.
Everett said in the complaint that for months prior and at that time, Muhammad was renting from the same landlord, Junior Fairweather, but at a different Shamokin apartment.
Everett had a grievance meeting with Miller on Oct. 9 and SHA sent a letter confirming that the information provided by the post office on Khaalid Muhammad's residence was erroneous, but the subsidy was not reinstated, according to court documents.
Among the exhibits in the complaint presented by Everett are three letters sent to SHA by HUD, copies of which went to Everett's attorney, Joseph DeCristopher, of North Penn Legal Services, Sunbury.
In each letter, Dennis G. Bellingtier, director of the Office of Public Housing in HUD's Philadelphia Regional Office, disputed many of SHA's reasons as to why the vouchers were denied, such as a claim that her income is over the limit and that she received a large cash award for the Special Needs Education Trust for her younger daughter.
In each letter, the agency directed SHA to reissue the voucher from September to the present.
In the last letter, dated May 10, HUD threatened action if the matter is not resolved.
"In light of SHA's persistent refusal to comply with the program regulations, this office is reviewing its options, including the possibility of imposing sanctions against SHA if it continues to operate in violation of its contractual obligations with HUD," it reads.
On Monday, the court granted a in "forma pauperis motion" to Everett, allowing the case to proceed without filing fees or court costs to her, due to her limited income, since she is forced to pay a full rent payment and care for her two disabled daughters, the court said.