Public Housing Tenants Must Remain Drug-Free Or Face Eviction

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 this past Monday that public housing tenants could be evicted for their housemate’s off-premise drug use, overturning a 1988 injunction by a U.S. District Court judge.
In 1988 Congress passed a law making public housing tenants responsible for any criminal activity engaged in by any member of the tenant’s household, or a guest or other person under the tenant’s control, on or near public housing premises. Such criminal activity is cause for termination of tenancy.
The appeals court ruled that the policy adopted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1991 legally aimed at “preventing tenants from turning a blind eye to the conduct of a household member or guest.”
Dissenting Judge William Fletcher said the regulation “deprives innocent people of property that was not involved in any crime and punishes innocent people for crimes that they did not commit and could not prevent.”
For more information, please contact Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director at (202) 483-5500.