Collateral Damage: A Public Housing Consequences of the 'War on Drugs'

Lahny Silva, 5 U.C. Irvine Law Review 783

(January 2015)
Collateral Damage: A Public Housing Consequences of the 'War on Drugs'

This article hopes to add to the existing scholarship and advocacy regarding exclusionary federal housing policies. It is meant not only to supplement the collateral-consequences literature by identifying and examining additional issues in the administration of federal housing policy, but also to draw attention to the inequities inherent in the current system. More specifically, this Article explores federal termination policies and the way in which they are administered by local public housing authorities (PHAs).

The author argues that federal law grants an unwarranted amount of discretion to PHAs in assessing cause for exclusion from the program and also fails to provide sufficient statutory and regulatory guidance in the enforcement of PHA lease agreements. Reviewing alleged “drug-related criminal activity” lease violations through a criminal law lens may assist PHAs in making appropriate termination decisions. With this, the author recommends that a framework be established requiring PHAs to meet a statutorily mandated burden of proof prior to a “drug-related criminal activity” termination. This standard ought to focus on such activity through a criminal law frame.