Court slaps Boston Housing Authority; orders it to restore man's housing voucher

In unusually harsh language, the Massachusetts Appeals Court today ordered the Boston Housing Authority to restore the Section 8 housing voucher of a man who physically could not have attended hearings it held on his case because he was in jail at the time.

The court found the authority violated its own regulations for how to hold hearings and misled Melvin Furtick on whether he could appeal its rulings, telling him could not, when its own guidelines said he could.

The overarching mission of the BHA is to provide housing assistance to poor and low-income individuals. ... In its rush to recapture Furtick's section 8 voucher, the BHA seems to have lost sight of its mission here. The seasoned Housing Court judge pointed out the big picture to the BHA and suggested a reasonable settlement of this litigation (a hearing for Furtick). ... The BHA ignored the advice, opting to pursue this case to the bitter end, a confounding decision in light of the serious procedural unfairness apparent on this record.

When Furtick won a lower-court order for a new hearing to explain why he missed the other hearings - which he claimed he was never even notified of - the BHA appealed, arguing the issue was between the man and the landlord who kicked him out, not the BHA.

Nonsense, the judges said. Furtick, who is elderly, physically disabled and mentally ill, got evicted and forced into a homeless shelter because his Social Security payments alone were not enough to pay his rent. Of course the BHA had a role to play in what happened to him, the court said.

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    Comments

    Good for the court

    By on

    However, am I missing something here? The Boston Housing Authority recinded the voucher, but the guy is living in Salem.

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    And

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    occasionally in jail...

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    Nice guy! He blew up a house once!

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    Police: Threat leads to husband's arrest
    By Alan Burke Staff Writer
    November 3, 2011

    SALEM — To some, it might have sounded too fantastic to be anything but an idle threat when a man allegedly told his wife, "I shot you once, and I blew the house up, and the third time will be a charm."

    But Melvin S. Furtick, 61, of 1000 Loring Avenue, Salem, was arrested on charges of domestic assault and attempting to commit a crime once police heard of his record. His wife explained that Furtick had indeed shot her in 1969 and in 1970 he blew up their house. "Furtick spent seven years in Concord State Prison for these crimes," according to the log.

    Three years ago, however, the couple reunited. But the wife told police yesterday afternoon that the relationship has never been stable. She added that once she went home, she would sleep "with one eye open." Police described her as "extremely upset and fearful."

    Arrested by Patrolman Lawrence Puleo, Furtick acknowledged that he had had an argument with his wife the night before, according to the police report. But when asked if he'd made threats, he declined to answer.

    http://www.salemnews.com/local/x459213492/Police-Threat-leads-to-husband...

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    Don't forget

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    And Hawaii! !!!!!

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    Territories?

    Like U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam ... Needs to be a housing authority in whatever place is chosen.

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    If it's a Section 8 voucher,

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    If it's a Section 8 voucher, a different housing authority can administer it, unlike public housing.

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    Read the lower courts decision...

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    The guy's voucher was terminated for violating his Section 8 participant obligations when he failed to complete his annual recertification because he was in jail for several months after pleading guilty to assaulting his wife.

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    The guy has also been on

    By on

    The guy has also been on assistance 30 years. He knew the drill. Recertification happens annually at the same time every year and includes verification of income and inspection of the unit. As far as I know, there are means of communicating with the outside world while in jail. He doesn't have a whole lot of excuse for not contacting BHA, unless he avoided doing so because he was in jail for threatening his ex-wife, which could put him at risk for eviction and/or termination from the program, especially if the incident involved drugs or alcohols. He had told his landlord where he was, but failed to also notify BHA. He claimed he had no one checking his mail (which I find hard to believe since it would have just piled up. What about bills? Notices about benefits? Really? He didn't ask anyone to bring in his mail?). My guess is that he was hoping he'd fly under the radar, get out of jail, and come back to his apartment with BHA being none-the-wiser about his time in jail. Seems like his ex-wife was living in the apartment unauthorized, which is also a lease violation on Section 8. I have no idea what the rules are for paying benefits while someone is not living in the apartment, but that could have been another reason for not contacting the BHA up front.

    The waiting lists for vouchers is 100 miles long. People wait years for assistance assuming they were able to apply at all because often the list is so long, applications are closed. I'm just finding it really hard to gather up sympathy who a guy involved with domestic violence, violated his lease (assuming the ex-wife was living with him, additional provisions violated if the actions that landed him in jail took place on the property or as a result of drug or alcohol use), and failed to notify BHA when after 30 years on the program he has been through the same process year after year after year. You don't spend 30 years on assistance and then suddenly forget to follow-up on benefit recertifications. He may be elderly, disabled, and mentally ill, but that doesn't mean he didn't try to game the system and then cried foul when it blew up in his face. This guy is a stellar example of why people a negative stereotypes about Section 8 tenants.

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    It's not called

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    "Transitional Assistant" for no reason. How else is one going to retire at the age of 30?

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    Retire?

    The guy is physically disabled enough to have Social Security Disability.

    They don't hand that out like candy. The waiting period is extensive, takes many visits and doctor visits, involves home interviews AND is rechecked every few years.

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    It a rather common practice

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    For people to sign up right when they turn 18, regardless of what the future may bring or what their current circumstances are. Its like signing your selective service card.

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    My reply...

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    My reply telling you to read the lowers courts decision was in response to you saying "Good for the court". In this case, not good for the court. This ruling essentially allows any Section 8 participant who is losing their voucher to bypass a housing authorities internal administrative processes for appealing a voucher termination and instead wait until the subsidy terminates and their landlord brings an eviction action for nonpayment. The tenant can then bring it up in their landlord's eviction action and ask for the court to reinstate the subsidy, completely bypassing the housing authorities program rules. The appeals court just made it almost impossible for a housing authority to effectively terminate a Section 8 voucher in accordance with their program rules, HUD regs. and relevant case law.

    This decision was inherently bad for housing authorities in MA.

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    Section 8

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    We need more of it - specifically, in all the wealthy suburbs full of loud-mouth section 8 advocates.

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