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Circuit court upholds Section 8 precedent

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals declined today to overturn precedent on the due process rights of someone rejected from specific Section 8 housing.

In Marshall Fincher v. South Bend Heritage Foundation, No. 09-1964, Marshall Fincher sued after his Section 8 application for housing in a building owned by South Bend Heritage Foundation was denied due to a previous eviction. Fincher claimed he was denied due process of law or that SBHF breached a contract with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to which Fincher is a third-party beneficiary.

Fincher wanted the Circuit Court to overturn its precedent in Eidson v. Pierce, 745 F.2d 435 (7th Cir. 1984), but the judges declined because they found Eidson to be a well-reasoned opinion. That ruling found there is no legitimate claim to entitlement for people rejected from a specific housing unit.

“Under Section 8, even if a plaintiff proved that the landlord relied on false information in coming to its decision to deny the plaintiff housing, the plaintiff still would not be entitled to the housing so long as the housing went to another eligible candidate,” wrote Judge Joel Flaum. “Therefore, the due process hearing would be meaningless.”

Section 8 only provides landlords with a series of guidelines to apply when choosing between two eligible candidates and leaves the landlord with considerable discretion in making the final decision, he continued.

The Circuit judges rejected Fincher’s arguments to rely on a 9th Circuit case that was decided two years before Eidson because the 7th Circuit had already rejected the reasoning from that case in Eidson. They also declined to adopt rulings out of a New Jersey District Court or the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts because those cases tackled different issues than the one in Eidson. In the New Jersey case, the issue was whether an individual had a right to a due process hearing when she was denied eligibility for the Section 8 housing program in New Jersey. The Massachusetts case addressed a situation where the defendants were allegedly in violation of numerous state public housing regulations that set forth mandatory priority and preference categories.

“Because Eidson was a well-reasoned opinion, and no significant changes in the law have occurred between when we decided that case and now, we decline the invitation to overturn Eidson and affirm the district court on the due process challenge,” wrote Judge Flaum.

The 7th Circuit also affirmed the District Court’s rejection of Fincher’s claim that he can bring a suit as a third-party beneficiary of a contract entered into between SBHF and HUD. Fincher must point to specific regulations or contract provisions that are being violated in this case to give rise to this cause of action.
 

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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