(CN) - A sex offender who was denied housing assistance must go back to court to determine whether he has a right to help with his rent, the D.C. District Court ruled.
Because of his 1991 rape conviction, William Long must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He first registered in December 2000, nearly a year after his release from prison.
Long applied for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Housing Choice Voucher Program in 2001. He did not conceal his status as a sex offender, and the D.C. Housing Authority accepted him into the program.
The District of Columbia passed a law that banned lifetime sex-offender registrants from the program, DCHA tried to terminate Long's participation in the program, but the hearing officer ruled in Long's favor.
However, DCHA Executive Director Adrianna Todman overturned the decision.
Despite the ruling, DCHA recertified Long for the housing program one day before his housing assistance payments were scheduled to cease.
Long still sued DCHA and Todman, claiming violations of his due process and statutory rights. DCHA agreed to continue his housing assistance payments while the legal action was pending.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled that before the merits of Long's claims could be decided, a full hearing must take place regarding his rights to assistance.
"The Court believes that the issue of whether Congress intended, through the cited provisions of the Housing Act, to create a new substantive individual right for participants of the program, such as Mr. Long, against termination of their assistance on grounds that violate the statute and its implementing regulations deserves a full briefing," he wrote.
Therefore, he denied the parties' motions for summary judgment and remanded the case so they could "address this important issue."
Contreras added that the defendants did not violate his due process rights and that their decision was not barred by a 2007 hearing officer's decision in Long's favor.
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