Settlement Approved in Seattle Section 8 Case

     (CN) – The Seattle Housing Authority agreed to change certain Section 8 housing policies after voucher holders settled their class action alleging that the agency discriminates against residents who are disabled and have children.
     Lead plaintiffs Markeletta Wilson and Marie Townes said the Seattle Housing Authority illegally required Section 8 voucher holders to show custody documents before allowing children to live with them, and that it barred relatives from living together.
     Their 2009 class action also claimed that the housing authority did not provide disabled voucher holders with reasonable accommodations.
     Wilson sought to represent a subclass of disabled voucher holders who were terminated from the Section 8 program, and Townes sought to represent holders who were required to prove custody of their children.
     The Seattle Housing Authority denied any illegal activity, but the parties were able to reach a settlement agreement, which U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman preliminarily approved on Tuesday.
     The judge found the settlement “was the result of serious, informed, non-collusive, and arms-length negotiations” and that the agreement “falls within the range of reasonableness and possible approval.”
     As a result of the settlement, the Seattle Housing Authority will make certain policy changes and grant new termination hearings to class members on request.
     Among the changes, the authority may “consider extenuating circumstances to extend the time period that a guest, including a related adult, is allowed to stay in the subsidized residence.” It must also now notify voucher holders that a judge can review their terminations.
     The court will hold a fairness hearing on the settlement agreement on Jan. 9, 2012.

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