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Sex Offender Bring Case to Court Over Being Denied Housing Assistance

A man was convicted of sex crimes, including rape, sodomy and sex abuse. He was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of six to eighteen years for the rape and sodomy convictions and two to six years for the sex abuse convictions. According to the State Division of Criminal Justice Services website, he is designated as a Level 2 sex offender who is subject to lifetime registration under the State’s sex offender registration program. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the man is an inmate at a Correctional Facility, where he returned for violating parole after having been previously released from prison.

By letter, the man requested that the State Housing Authority provide him with an application for housing and an application for a Section 8 certificate. In the letter, he claimed that he was disabled, homeless and currently incarcerated, but that upon his release in the near future he would be in need of housing. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the State Housing Authority responded by a letter enclosed with the Guide to Applying for Public Housing, a public housing application and a Guide to Section 8 Housing Assistance. The letter stated that no Section 8 application was enclosed because The State Housing Authority was no longer accepting Section 8 Program applications since the waiting list had been closed since May 15, 2007 except to applicants that met certain emergency criteria.

The Section 8 Housing Assistance Program is a federal program administered by local public housing authorities (PHAs); the State Housing Authority administers the program. The Section 8 Program is a voucher program that makes housing more affordable to very low-income families by subsidizing private landlords, thus allowing the families to obtain housing at below market prices. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides funding for the Section 8 Program to the local PHAs. There are two categories of housing assistance in the Section 8 Program: tenant-based and project-based. In the tenant-based assistance, families choose where they want to live, and if the unit is approved by the local PHA, the PHA contracts with the owner and makes rental subsidy payments on behalf of the family. In the project-based assistance, the subsidies are paid by the PHA to assist families in specific housing developments.

Individuals who are subject to a state’s lifetime sex offender registration requirement are prohibited from obtaining federal housing assistance. Under the State Sex Offender Registration Act, there are three levels of registration based on the offender’s risk of reoffending. Level one sex offenders are deemed to have the lowest risk of reoffending; they are required to register for a period of twenty years. Level two and Level three sex offenders respectively are deemed to have a moderate and high risk of reoffending and are both subject to lifetime registration.
A PHA may periodically close the Section 8 Program waiting list to applicants because the demand for housing often exceeds the housing available. A Nassau County Sex Crimes Lawyer said the PHA may accept applications that meet certain criteria while the waiting list is closed. The State Housing Authority Section 8 Program waiting list was closed and was briefly reopened. When its waiting list is closed, the State Housing Authority accepts only applications that meet the criteria of one of three emergency categories. The emergency categories are for victims of domestic violence, intimidated witnesses referred by the district attorney or families or individuals referred by the Administration for Children’s Services.

On his next letter, the man again requested that the State Housing Authority provide him with a Section 8 application. In the letter, he outlined his medical conditions as open heart surgery without providing documentation.

In his next letter, the man appealed to the State Housing Authority to review his Section 8 Application arguing that the State Housing Authority’s denial of his Application because he was not a victim of domestic violence violated the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA). A Queens Sex Crime Lawyer said he contended that his well- documented disability afforded him the right to apply for and be placed on the waiting list for the Section 8 Program. He claimed that the State Housing Authority discriminated against him because of his disability. He also argued that his being kept off the waiting list was a violation of his due process and equal protection rights under the United States Constitution.

Discrimination by a public entity against an individual is prohibited under Title II of the ADA. Subject to the provisions of the subchapter, no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by such entity. To state a claim under Title II of the ADA, the petitioner must allege that he is a qualified individual with a disability. The petitioner must also allege that he was either excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of a public entity’s services, programs or activities, or was otherwise discriminated against by the public entity and he must prove that such exclusion, denial of benefits, or discrimination, was by reason of his disability.

The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals by the recipient entities of federal funding. No otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. To state a claim under the Rehabilitation Act, the petitioner must allege that he is an individual with a disability and he is otherwise qualified to receive the benefit. The petitioner must also allege that he was denied the benefits of the program solely by reason of his disability. The program receives federal financial assistance.

The man has failed to sufficiently allege a claim under either Title II of the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act because his petition contains no documentation of his alleged disability and, as evidenced by the State Housing Authority’s letter, the man’s Application was not denied based on his alleged disability but because the Section 8 Waiting list closed except for Victims of Domestic Violence. Further, the man claims that his rights under the due process and equal protection clauses of the United States Constitution have been violated because the State Housing Authority blocked him from the Section 8 waiting list and because the list should be made available to people with disabilities by brief mention without supporting facts or law. To state a claim for procedural or substantive due process violations, the petitioner must first show that he has a property interest. He must have a legitimate claim of entitlement to it. To state a claim for an equal protection violation, the petitioner must show that he was discriminated against by a government entity on the basis of being a member of a protected class, such as race, national origin or gender.

The man has failed to show that he had either a legitimate property interest or has been deprived of a legitimate property interest in a position on the State Housing Authority’s Section 8 waiting list. The mere anticipation of a position on the waiting list does not establish a property interest of which the man has been deprived by the State Housing Authority. Therefore, the man without a property interest that has been deprived by the State Housing Authority has failed to state a claim for a due process violation.

The man has also failed to show that he has been discriminated against on the basis of one of the protected classes under the equal protection clause, such as race, national origin or gender. He has failed to show that the State Housing Authority denied him access to its Section 8 waiting list on the basis of his claimed disability. The State Housing Authority lawfully closed its waiting list to disabled and non-disabled individuals unless their application met the criteria of one of the three emergency categories. Therefore, the man without a showing that he was discriminated solely on the basis of his disability has failed to state a claim for an equal protection violation. Further, the man’s claim is doubtful because, even if the State Housing Authority accepted his Application, as a lifetime sex offender under the State’s sex offender registration program, he is prohibited from obtaining Section 8 Housing Assistance.

Victims of violence particularly women and children are being protected further by the law. To be aware of the support and aids available for domestic violence victims, contact the offices of Stephen Bilkis and Associates and talk to the team of NY Domestic Violence Attorneys. For appropriate criminal legal actions to consider, approach any of the New York Criminal Lawyers of the firm.

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